a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Monday, July 10, 2006

It's Raining Pirates

I haven't seen this movie yet, but $132 million over the weekend (estimated; it might be more)? Wow.

Yeah, I know, the idea of box office records is dumb, because obviously any movie released now, with over 4000 theaters to play in (and over 8000 screens to be shown on) at today's high box office prices has an obvious advantage over movies released in the past.

In fact, the estimate is that ticket sales (about 20 million people saw it) were only slightly ahead of Spiderman's previous record pace (despite the fact that Pirates broke the record by about $18 million), just to show how much prices have gone up since then.

But still. Given the long running length (which cuts down on the amount of shows per day) and the mixed reviews that it got, it's an amazingly huge number.

Put it this way. It took in more money in its first three days than Mission Impossible III (which got similar reviews, if not better) took in in its first 9 WEEKS.

I've met its screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terrio Rossio, who are very nice, very bright guys who are extremely knowledgeable about storytelling and writing in general (if you haven't been to their site Wordplayer yet, go there now, and spend the day there).

So congrats, guys.

Sometime in the next 7 days, I will see this movie, and I will try to figure out why so many critics loathed it (though, given that I read several reviews in which the critic admitted hating the first one too, I'm hoping that many have simply lost touch with what makes a movie entertaining). If I hate it, I won't be afraid to say so, and I'll tear it apart.

In the meantime, feel free to post your general impressions of the movie in the comments, without getting too specific -- no plot spoilers yet!


At 12:08 PM, Blogger Random Brandon said...

It proves the power of a "four quadrant" film.

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Kip said...

I was able to have lunch with some Word Player people along with Ted and Terry on Saturday afternoon. Terry read the reviews coming in and then with a bit of glee revealed the projected numbers.

Yes he did have a cold dish ;)

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

I saw it over the weekend, and unfortunately had to leave the theater twice during the show so maybe my experience was incomplete, but I was not wowed by this movie. Although it seemed enjoyable enough. My wife and I saw the first Pirates movie twice in the theater because it was such fun.

The question is whether or not you are doomed from the start if your movie is part 1 of 2 and ends with many things unresolved? How can an audience feel entirely satisfied if they are left wanting at the end?

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Scoopy said...

It felt quite a bit like a long first half of a movie, which seems to be the case with most of these twofer franchise shoots, but I had a good time.

Loved Davy Jones and his crew -- I don't think I've ever enjoyed the nuances of CG so much. Loved all the little fishy/sea life touches on the crew. There was always some cool little action going on in the frame.

The first movie seemed to have something magical that covered the weaknesses. In this one, there was less of a twinkle and the weaknesses glared a bit, but I wasn't sorry that I saw it at all.

Ultimately, and perhaps more pragmatically, it shows how much money is out there at all times if you capture the public's imagination. Also, it really puts SUPERMAN RETURNS into sharper perspective -- you can make a profound movie that ALSO takes people on a thrill ride. They don't have to be separate presentations.

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

No matter what qualifications you put on the number, it's an impressive accomplishment ... Now let's see if they can take on the domestic all-time record

At 3:43 PM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i saw it and enjoyed it. i have to agree on the too long critique. also, it's disney guys, there's a ride at the park and all that, but it is not young child appropriate. i had my 10 year old niece with me and she needed some reassurance at some of the more (and i might add totally gratuitous) grusome parts...still and all, a rollicking good time arrrrr.

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Abe Burnett said...

OMG, I can't believe I'm the first one that has anything critical to say about the film! First, let me say that I did enjoy the film overall; I also really enjoyed Superman Returns, and generally enjoy most movies--regardless of obvious flaws or not. That said, I still have my limits, and Pirates 2 really pushed them in some instances. There was one particular part where I was incensed, literally PISSED-OFF, at a turn of events. Without ruining it for you, basically there comes a point, maybe 66 or 75% percent of the way through, where the filmmakers (writers, director, or producers--I'm not certain who deserves the blame) realized they hadn't had a good set-piece in a while or a good, balls-to-the-wall sword fight yet. So, what do they do? Set it up with due diligence? Nope. They just have all available characters pull out their swords and start fighting, all said characters becoming instantly oblivious to a MAJOR plot artifact that they've worked so hard for. Escapist is one thing, insulting entirely another. I was swearing at the screen and squirming in my seat in unhappiness. I would have to say that that point really started the downhill slide for the rest of the film; by the "end" (which I'm not sure can be legitimately called that since it seemed more like an abrupt break; like, "oops, we've run out of time...soooo, that's all folks!") I had a bitter taste in my mouth. Many of the characters had arcs that didn't seem true to their character, and with the addition of other UTTERLY preposterous events, I came away unhappy.

In contrast to Pirates 1, I'd say that I liked it better for the sole reason that it's pacing was better. The first Pirates had immense segments of boring, boring, yawn, yawn, boring, followed by excitement, humor, and fun; Pirates 2 did much better at keeping up its momentum. Still, the last quarter of Pirates 2 seemed like an outright hack job; to the extent that it felt like the screenwriters must've been asked to leave the room while the Pirate was butchered.

Just my 2 cents.

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Robin Kelly said...

I think the reviewers and the public are right. It was too long, too incoherent and unsatisfactory as a story. That's just a fact. But the CGI and action were spectacular and, let's not kid ourselves, for the vast majority of people that's all they need and all they want.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger glassblowerscat said...

Critics have lost touch with what makes a movie entertaining. This is why I never listen to Peter Travers anymore.

That said, Pirates wasn't perfect. Has its flaws. But the main thing I think we're all looking for out of it is a big, giant rush—a really wild ride. Despite some plot holes and underworked characters, it totally delivers.

At 8:21 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

Loved it. Not sure what was incoherent about it. It wasn't Antonioni.

It was a fun ride. Great F/X, Bill Nighy rocked, Stellan was great, loved the main 3. And I rather enjoyed the plot. If you're going to say that there wasn't one, you're a dope. There was almost TOO MUCH story going on, but I was easily able to follow it. Gore Verbinski also created some great scenes and some classic sequences.

Crymes - you can't get up twice to crap (I'd say the average crap is between 10-15 mins) and then complain about the movie about not being into the movie. You were into the bathroom.

Also, why the hell are poeple complaining about the ending? Did we bitch and say Empire Strikes Back sucked ass because there were some unresolved plot?? No, and it's the same here.

Christ, even Pirates 1 ended with unresolved issues when you think about it - The pirate got away and the English were going to go chase him. That's unresolved.

Also, stay past the credits for something cool.

At 8:26 PM, Anonymous phillip said...

Liked it but didn't love it. Not even close. A few things off the top of my head:

Too much plot. And not in a good way (JFK, Parallax View).

Too much exposition. Some of it surprisingly clumsy/forced.

Too much needless gruesomeness. And I say that as a longtime horror/exploitation fan. A lot of very young kiddies (dressed as pirates lol) were at the show I saw. I was really surprised by some of the violence and gore.

Too much Kraken.

But the biggest problem for me was that I felt the fawning loyalty and expectations of chilvarous behaviour that damn near everyone in the flick expected of Jack Sparrow wasn't justified. I know he's a Trickster type character but without ANY logical reason to trust him some of the other characters actions were bizarre.

**Strained sports analogy warning**

It was like Ryan Leaf deciding he wanted to play for the Chargers again and the owner, coach and fans heartily embracing him.

The eye candy was truly amazing, especially Davey Jones. There is literally nothing that can be imagined that cannot be credibly realized on the big screen. The weird or ironic thing is that now story seems even more important IMHO. I think, regarding special effects, the Law of Diminishing Returns is kicking in. Of course, I'm a wannabe writer guy not a wannabe CGI guy so my opinion is probably biased.

They did include the fireflies, swamp and little shacks from the beginning of the ride which was very cool.

Ted and Terry are two very generous guys and I'm glad this will make a lot of money and maybe give them a bit more power but, overall, I was underwhelmed.

At 8:43 PM, Blogger Brett said...

I liked it a lot (and surely the circumstances of my viewing helped tremendously... but I'll talk about that elsewhere and elsetime), but I didn't immediately love it love it love it the way I did with #1.

IMO the FX sequences pretty much ALL ran too long (too much Kraken-- absolutely), and some scenes just made no physical sense to me. hearing Elliot explain that they (he and Rossio) had tried to use a sort of "video game" metaphor for the storytelling actually made some of the odd choices seem more sensible to me-- their intent, apparently, was to create a movie which gave you different reactions and things to notice and consider upon repeated viewings, in much the same way that you can replay the same level of a video game over and over and never have it turn out quite the same way.

I was struck by the fact that Rossio reports the final script weighed in at 112 pages, yet the movie clocks 151 minutes. That extra length came in at someone's behest and permission, and methinks it wasn't the lowly screenwriters pulling those strings...

At 9:02 PM, Blogger Philip Morton said...

I think success is daunting, and with it comes a two fisted burden. One, that you suddenly aren't sure if you should trust yourself - because you can't exactly quantify how you got there - and two, you want to stay there and come hell or high water you will, holding onto it with all your might. In holding on, the danger is the loss of your own freedom as you're prone to be cautious and repeat what has already worked, so risk taking goes out the window and so does pure lean mean story telling - which got you there in the first place - it goes too as you now have the clout to hold on to all your 'darlings', even though some should be shot, drowned and sent to the bottom tied to the anchor.

At 9:06 PM, Blogger Philip Morton said...

The hardest thing to do is to trust yourself, be free, and listen to no one, particularly when you have immense pressures raining down on you. That spider man 2 and xmen 2 got it right is a testament to those creators.

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

I'd say that this feels much different than Empire. Empire wrapped up at the end, but we knew there was more to come. This movie seems to end abruptly, and I didn't sense an ebb in the story. I think at the end of Star Trek II there was a general feeling that this tale was over, but there was more to be done.

Pat, I do agree that I can't judge the movie fully without seeing it again, but I can see where things are going and get a general sense of the flow of the movie. I don't expect my opinion to change, but will be happy if it does.

The "it" factor wasn't there for me this time.

At 1:29 PM, Blogger citygirl said...

I thought it was good, but (even though it's a bigger film) not as good as the first one.

I know the object of sequels is to do it up bigger and better, but I think they went a little too over the top. Mostly, there were too many plotlines and agendas and a bit too much hopping on and off different ships.

Having said that though, it is quite a ride and only once did I feel that a scene was taking too long.


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