PIRATES OF THE
CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL
PIRATES OF THE
CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL (A-2, PG-13): British
Governor Swann (Jonathan Pryce) and his daughter, Elizabeth (Keira Knightly),
are traveling to Port Royal in the Caribbean. Their ship comes upon a young
boy, Will Turner (later played by Orlando Bloom), who is unconscious and floating
on debris. When they see the wreckage of a ship and recognize the work of pirates,
Elizabeth steals a pirate's gold medallion from Will's neck before he wakes.
Several years later, Elizabeth is courted by the debonair Commodore
Norrington (Jack Davenport) and Will has become an expert blacksmith who specializes
in sword-making. His love for Elizabeth remains undeclared but his devotion
On the day Norrington gets a promotion, the renowned pirate Captain
Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) swaggers into port, looking for a ship to steal (or
as he puts it, "commandeer"). His ship, the Black Pearl, has been stolen
by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who left Jack stranded on an island.
Captain Barbossa and his crew attack Port Royal looking for the
pirate's medallion so they can get a curse on the crew of the Black Pearl
lifted. When they kidnap Elizabeth because she is wearing the medallion, Jack
and Will commandeer a royal ship to rescue the girl.
From this point on, the action moves back and forth among the pirate
captains, pirate ghosts, Will and Elizabeth with much swashbuckling, sword fighting
and outright humor.
The curse has to do with the 822 medallions that were struck from
gold stolen by Cortez from the Mayan people. They must all be returned to the
pirates' chest and blood offered in a kind of atonement for the curse to be
Pirates seems right out of the Disney theme parks
and includes the song, "A Pirate's Life for Me." The film truly belongs to Johnny
Depp, whose Oscar-worthy performance borders on brilliant.
The mindful adult viewer will notice that there are lots of things
to talk about with young people, such as history and social justice (the theft
of gold from Mexico and Latin America, and its role in sustaining European economies
for centuries), increased marketing through video games and hamburger sales,
integrity (what it is and who is a person of integrity in the film) and law.
(Is a Pirate's Code binding or just guidelines?) Entertaining fun with action-adventure
violence; not for young children.
2: RED, WHITE AND BLONDE
2: RED, WHITE AND BLONDE (A-3, PG-13): Pretty as ever in pink, Elle Woods
(Reese Witherspoon) returns with her dog, Bruiser (a former stray), to champion
animal rights. As Elle prepares for her wedding to Harvard law professor Emmett
(Luke Wilson), she hires a private detective to track down Bruiser's birth mom
so she can come to the wedding, too. The detective finds Bruiser's mom in a
cosmetics lab in Boston. When Elle begins a rescue effort for animal rights,
she gets fired from her law firm.
Thus, she heads to Washington, D.C., all decked out in red,
white and blue, ready to take on the establishment. Elle lands a job with Representative
Victoria Rudd (Sally Field), who is willing to back a bill to stop using animals
to test cosmetics.
Alas, Elle's new co-workers do not take her seriously, but
she makes friends with Sidney (Bob Newhart), the doorman at her Watergate-like
apartment complex. Indeed, Elle's goodness, idealism and optimism are challenged
when she suffers political betrayal.
Though Legally Blonde 2 lacks much of the crisp writing and
timing of its predecessor, the charming Legally Blonde of 2001, this
sequel also has a message that is not so much about animal rights and PETA (People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) as it is about the simplicity of democracy
couched in Elle-speak: "If we let those who speak for us compromise our voice,
we're in for a bad haircut!"
Elle admits she forgot how to use her own voice because "one honest
voice can be louder than a crowd." Hear, hear. Never underestimate the power
of pink. Some mild sexual humor; a movie for those who believe in democracy
and are willing to question the power-brokers.
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (O, R): In the first film from this very profitable
franchise, The Terminator (1984), the rogue defense system, Skynet, sends
the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a cyborg organism, to destroy Sarah
Connor even before she gives birth to John. John is to be the future leader
of the resistance to Skynet's machines. (Skynet is the evil and alien self-aware
computer-defense system built by humans but now battling its creators.) Sarah
is saved by Reese, who was sent back from the future to save her. They sleep
together, before he is killed defending her from the Terminator. John is born
nine months later.
In Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), the Terminator returns
to save John, now 12, and his mother from Skynet's machines and prevent Judgment
Day, a violent, cataclysmic event that will destroy the human race.
In the new Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, John Connor
(Nick Stahl) is in his 20s and his mother has died. Though Judgment Day was
supposedly thwarted through the combined efforts of Sarah, young John and the
Terminator, John lives "off the grid" so no one can find him and rides his motorcycle
from town to town. He carries the weight of the future on his shoulders.
Then, in what seems like a coincidence, John meets an old friend
from junior high, Kate Brewster (Claire Danes).
Now Skynet sends T-X (a Terminatrix, played by Kristanna Loken)
to destroy John and anyone who will be associated with him in the future—including
Kate. The Terminator (still played by Schwarzenegger), an outdated model, reappears
again—this time sent from the future by the leader of the human resistance to
Skynet and its machines—and it's not John.
Film critic Roger Ebert expressed disappointment with Terminator
3 because it doesn't seem to explore the "big ideas" that helped make Terminator
2 a worthy film. It dealt thoughtfully with the consequences of violence
breeding violence, law and order and parenting issues.
But the script for Terminator 3 suffers from too many
writers trying too hard to make sense out of another convoluted storyline. Sci-fi
action and special effects cannot make up for the lack of coherent writing and
a weak plot. Besides, the only character in the story with a moral dilemma
is a cyborg.
Rather than ideas per se, Terminator 3 focuses on images
of the American flag (as did Legally Blonde 2), the irrelevance of the
police, invasion by aliens (the machines invented by American humans), and woman
as devil and savior. The destruction of the world (Judgment Day), John realizes,
is inevitable. But we (Americans) are meant to survive. There may be more
in this excessively violent film to talk about than meets the Terminator's eyeball.
JOAN OF ARCADIA
JOAN OF ARCADIA: CBS's new "supernatural drama"
is about Joan Agnes Girardi (Amber Tamblyn), a 16-year-old
"baptized Catholic" girl who encounters God in her everyday
life in not-so-everyday ways. At their first "meeting" she
tells God, "I'm not religious," and God says, "It's not
about being religious; it's about fulfilling your true nature."
One would think the writers have been reading John Paul II from
this kind of dialogue because it's not sentimental religiosity but theologically
informed, mature and contemporary. The conversation about "other worldly" things
such as the nature of God and divine providence entertains. You never know where
or in what human gender, race or age God will show up next.
Joan's father (Joe Mantegna), Arcadia's chief of police,
is involved in grisly police work. Mom (Mary Steenburgen)
cares for the family that includes 19-year-old Luke (Michael
Welch), who is confined to a wheelchair because of a car
accident, and 15-year-old science nerd Kevin (Jason Ritter),
who experiments with light and logic. During a conversation
with Joan he quotes physicist Michael Faraday (1791-1867),
who once said, "Nothing is too wonderful to be true."
Like St. Joan of Arc, Joan of Arcadia hears voices and God wants
her for a mission. Just what that mission is, we will have to wait and see.
This series looks like an evocative and promising drama by Barbara Hall, one
of Judging Amy's executive producers and developers.