I was in a mall today about 2pm looking for storage containers, (I found a rockin’ trunk with wheels for $25 <http://www.containerstore.com/browse/Product.jhtml?CATID=62560&PRODID=62806&FEEDCNT=3>).
Anyway, when I was walking by a movie theater I notice that “Pirates of the Caribbean” <http://www.imdb.com/Title?0325980> was showing in 10 minutes. I grabbed some lunch and dove into the much needed air conditioning.
I was surprised, as a big budget adventure flick it rocked! Right from the start it felt good. I get a lot from the look of a film, the film stock, color balancing, or whatever makes for a movie’s “look.” The acting was solid, the effects pretty transparent, the action not overwhelming or too loud or long. The sets and makeup where spot on, dirty fingernails and the like making it seem more real somehow. It had humor, a good action story, and a good love story, with even some character development in the leads.
I always wonder when I see a film that works, what makes it work? I took a look at the main positions to see who led the project: It was directed by Gore Verbinski, a seemingly seasoned pro in commercials and some movies. The producer was Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s very active and the Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski. The people had worked together on “The Mexican” as well.
If I had to make something up, I’d say this worked because the main crew had worked together before, were pros in straight up Hollywood big time production, which you’d need to pull this movie off, and the cast was right on and appeared to be into the project. Depp did a amazingly creative job of creating a totally new kind of pirate. He’s sort of a drunk gay dirvish and Geoffrey Rush, who threw himself into the part totally and carried off the “Arghhs” convincingly. And I think it’s got legs. It was pretty full for a weekday afternoon and I heard a group of young teens saying how they’s seen it 4 times and were going again.
The writers, or adapters, didn’t take it too seriously as “art”, but went for quality fun. I think in the end that a good standard Hollywood action flick like this needs to a team on it that realizes what they are making and doesn’t stray into trying to do anything else. Then they get the right cast of pros who can work together to bring the characters to life that we all know, and have fun doing it. There is plenty of complexity, freedom and creativity within the formula. Some flicks like this seem like they are trying to reinvent the wheel, instead of making a great wheel.
What is it about them i still ask? Some of it is just the luck within chaos, like a reverse Titanic scenario.
“Trading Places” in the 1980s is a great example. There’s something these movies have that make them entertaining, sort of a *smooth*, palatable media, but not brain dead to be sure, there’s stuff there under the surface if you look. Usually a positive societal message lurks, hope lurks, overcoming personal difficulties lurks. Maybe some of it has to do with expectations? We aren’t at Sundance here, we’re just watching a regular ol’ matinee kinda movie so we want fun and a little creative.
And I think some has to be that pros usually made them so they have very few editing/sound/effect mistakes that distract from the content on the screen. This makes it literally easy to watch because in the language of film they are telling a simple story that you can just let wash over you and not be confused or agitated in a negative way.