Pirates of the carribean: fear and loathing on the seven seas
I heard a story that Billy Murray once told Johnny Depp "if you play the part of Hunter S. Thompson, the part will never leave you."
Watching Pirates of the Carribean one can say that in Depp's case, Murray was right.
This is a good thing, however. Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow as if Thompson himself was on a magical, pirate-infested acid trip.
If this review seems like it is more about Depp than the movie itself, that's because Depp is the movie. He's a puppetmaster to the actors around him (not to take away from Geoffrey Rush's stellar performance as Barbossa), as all the characters spend the movie reacting to Depp's Sparrow.
Pirates is a true action/adventure in that the requisite background love story pales in comparison to the true tale at hand, it becomes almost an afterthought to the main adventure.
And what an adventure it is. Swashbuckling (what would a review of a pirate movie be without that word?), cursed treasure, sword fights, a nasty monkey, the undead (quite resemebling the deadites from Army of Darkness) and a main character that is not quite good, yet not quite bad. Think Bruce Willis's John McCLane - sure, he can be a bit of an ass, but he's funny and honorable in all the right places. You find yourself rooting for him, even though the romantic part of the story dictates that you root for Orlando Bloom (pretty as always), there's a part of you (ok, maybe it's just me) that wishes the fair Elizabeth would have run off with Sparrow instead.
In comparing the movie with its namesake ride, I would have to say the fun factor of the film is much like an amusement park ride itself. I almost wanted to say Wheeeeeeee! at the end, the movie was so much fun. I got the same creepy yet awe-struck feeling at the scenes in Pirates that resembled the best parts of the park ride - when the village is being pillaged and the scruffy-looking pirates are laughing and singing and grinning those black-toothed grins as you stare, somewhat bemused and somewhat disgusted.
Anyhow, back to Depp. He is one of those rare child/teenage actors whose face is no longer synonymous with the character he started out as. While you look at some of those stars who started out young in goofy tv series and you forever see them as nothing more than an extension of that character, Depp has gone well past that "The guy from 21 Jump Street" stage. He is an incredible actor, who takes every single character he plays and melds with that part until he becomes it. He is Edward Scissorhands, he is Ed Wood, He is Captain Jack Sparrow.
I don't know if Pirates would have been half the fun ride it is if someone else played Depp's part. No one else could fuse Hunter S. Thompson and John McClane and come up with such a loveable scoundrel.