“Why a Spoon?”

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

A 90s action take on the Robin Hood legend, it was a favorite in my house until the Russell Crowe version came out. It features an all-star cast, headed up by Kevin Costner (decorated for Dances with Wolves – have not seen) as Robin, Alan Rickman is his equal as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Morgan Freeman as Azeem, Christian Slater is Will Scarlett, Brian Blessed as Lord Locksley, Michael Wincott (he’ll later show up as Rochefort in Three Musketeers) as Guy of Gisborne, and Michael McShane (I recognize him as funny Professor Keenbean from the Richie Rich movies) as Friar Tuck. The theme from the film is now used by Disney promotions on their DVDs (no, this is not a Disney film).

The background to the opening credits is the Bayeux tapestry, an embroidered cloth that depicts the Norman conquest. This rendition is set in 1194 and starts in a prison in Jerusalem. English war prisoners are tortured and the guard turns to another man, claiming he stole something, of which the punishment is to lose a hand. Another prisoner speaks up to spare the man, but they’re both unchained. He does not flinch from the sword, displaying “English courage.” At the last minute, he pulls back, causing the guard to lose his hand. He fights his way out, aided by a Moorish prisoner. The three make it out, but the leader’s friend is killed topside. With his dying breath Peter requests his ring be taken back to his sister and the man is to promise to protect her. The two men left introduce themselves as Azeem, the Moor, and Robin of Locksley. Since Robin saved his life, Azeem will follow him until the debt is repaid.

Back in England, Lord Locksley is writing a letter to find out what has befallen his son in the Holy Land. He’s interrupted by his servant Duncan and another man who says that his family is in danger. The Lord rides out, to find a crew of men in white cloaks (who look disturbingly like the KKK) waiting for him. They’re headed by the Sheriff who gives Locksley the choice, join us, or die. Locksley declares “never” and rides to meet them.

Four months later, Robin and Azeem land on English shores at the White Cliffs of Dover. Robin is so pleased to be home, he kisses to ground. He keeps trying to send Azeem home, but the Moor is determined to fulfill his oath. Azeem is an educated and wise man; he stays a few steps behind Robin, stating it is safer to appear his slave in this land than his equal. He maintains his prayers, even when Robin is fighting the Sheriff’s men, led by Guy of Gisborne. Robin does defeat the men and sends Gisborne back to the Sheriff with the message to stay off his land. Unfortunately, Robin arrives home to find the castle burned and his father decaying in a hanging cell. Old Duncan, now blinded, reports that Locksley was accused of devil worship and supposedly confessed to the crime. Robin now will not rest until he has avenged his father, swearing it in blood.

Gisborne reports to his cousin, the Sheriff at Nottingham castle. An eye is watching through the wall and we shortly meet its owner, Mortiana, a creepy, creepy witch. I do not watch how she scries for the future, nope. But she foresees that the Lionheart (Richard) is proceeded home by the son of a dead man (Robin). The Sherriff asks if that will affect their plans. She’s seen their deaths, at the hand of a painted man, who they determine is the Moor traveling with Robin [um, did Gisborne even see the guy? How do they know this?].

Robin next visits Peter’s home to deliver the news to his sister. He’s brought in to see “Maid Marion,” who has changed since they were kids. A masked guard attacks and when Robin holds their hand over a fire to relieve them of their sword, a feminine scream emits. This is the real Marion, who is a cousin to King Richard. She remains at her ancestral land to take care of the people and only sees Robin as the spoiled son of a lord who used to bully her and burn her hair. She insists that she does not need Robin’s protection. Their conversation is interrupted when Gisborne and his men approach. Marion urges Robin to leave and forces him to by claiming he stole her horse. Robin, Azeem, and Duncan escape into Sherwood forest, which is supposed to be haunted. ‘Tis not haunted, ’tis overrun by bandits. Robin must fight Little John to cross the river; he ends up dunked a few times, but they laugh and become comrades.

After we witness the Sheriff’s true devotion to the Old Ways; he was raised by the witch rickman sheriffat his parents’ dying wish, he attempts to charm Marion (she knows not to trust him). Meanwhile, Robin visits the church to gather information. The bishop stands by the story that his father was a devil worshipper. Robin does not believe it (nor does Marion or anyone who truly knew the man). On his way out, Robin runs into the Sheriff and cuts his cheek. The Sheriff’s yells “I’ll cut your heart out with a spoon!” Later, Gisborne inquires “why a spoon?” “Because it’s dull and will hurt more, you twit!” (Such a memorable line!)

Robin now plans to lead the outlaws of Sherwood forest. Will Scarlett doesn’t trust him and some of his fears are founded when the Sheriff begins terrorizing the people, looking for Robin. The Sheriff is puzzled why the people love Robin when their love causes the Sheriff to hurt them and tax them. Robin steals from the Sheriff and redistributes to the poor. The Sheriff is so put out, among canceling kitchen scraps and merciful beheadings, he “calls off Christmas.” Robin and the outlaws of Sherwood continue to attack wagon trains of the Sheriff, including one containing Friar Tuck. He is, at first, wary of the outlaws and tries to make a run for it, but soon settles in and preaches beer. Guy of Gisborne has no luck catching Robin and eventually cries to his cousin. His cousin soothes him, then stabs him, remarking, “at least it wasn’t a spoon.”

Marion and her servant Sarah are out riding one day through the forest when two of Robin’s dimmer men attempt to attack them. The two women fend for themselves, but Marion insists on seeing Robin. She catches him bathing, but once he dresses he shows her around the village. He has collected blood money that the Sheriff intended to use to buy the barons and unite them against Richard. His father taught him that nobility is not a birthright, it’s action. Robin is trying to live up to his father’s example after parting with him before the Crusade in anger. Robin also shares the tale of his father seeking comfort with a peasant woman after Robin’s mother’s death. Robin was an angry and hurt twelve-year-old boy and his father gave up the woman to please Robin. As Robin sends Sarah and Marion on their way, he asks Marion to first, look after Duncan. And second, get word to Richard about the events in England. She agrees, for Robin’s sake.

The Sheriff continues his plans, Mortiana advising him to use the Celts to take care of Robin. The barons are not willing to blindly follow the Sheriff, since he can’t produce the promised payment. To secure his throne, he must wed royal blood. He intends to marry Marion. Mortiana had suggested the same idea, after revealing that she is actually the Sheriff’s mother (the Sheriff had discovered her spying on him and demanded answers). She had killed the babe of the real Sheriff (and probably killed the parents later as well). If her son lies with the royal line and a child is produced, her blood will eventually end up on the throne.

Marion drafts the note to Richard and insists that Sarah accompany the messenger. The messenger later knocks Sarah out and the note ends up in the Sheriff’s hand and also revealing that the bishop works for the Sheriff. The Sheriff has Marion abducted from her home and holds her captive at his castle. Duncan runs to get Robin, not knowing he’s been followed. The blind man inadvertently leads the Celts and the army to the camp, where the army lights the camp on fire. Several men, and a boy, are captured and Robin is presumed dead after he falls from a burning rope.

The Sheriff offers Marion to spare the captive children’s lives, as a wedding gift. He shows her Robin’s cross as proof that the man is dead. He then tortures the rest of his prisoners to find out if the hero really is dead. Will Scarlett has no love lost for Robin and offers to be a double agent; he can get close to Robin and if Robin doesn’t trust him, then the Sheriff needn’t worry. The Sheriff still has him lashed, to make it believable.

Robin is not dead. And he correctly suspects Will when he returns to camp. When asked why he hates Robin so much, Will reveals that he is the son of the peasant woman Robin’s father had spent time with. He is Robin’s half-brother. Robin is so pleased to have kin, he embraces his brother and swears that he will finish the fight he started. He comes up with a plan. Azeem knows how to make black powder (historically inaccurate for that time period; yeah, BBC’s Robin Hood also got that wrong), so he and the Friar set barrels of it around the scaffolding. Other men sneak in weapons and get into position. Will is flaming arrowrecognized and captured at the public hanging and gets tied to one barrel. The Sheriff orders the executions to begin, starting with Little John’s son. The first plan is now out the window, but Robin has to act. He shoots the rope strangling the boy, revealing himself to the guards. But Azeem is ready to light the powder kegs. Many awesome explosions and arrows flying, the theme plays in the background. Little John crashes into the scaffolding. Robin shoots a flaming arrow (the scene that’s in every promo) to save Will. Marion screams for Robin and he’s off to rescue his lady. Azeem rallies the English to fight back against the Sheriff’s troops, then joins Robin inside the castle.

Mortiana insists that the Sheriff wed and bed Marion immediately; the time is ripe. The bishop hurriedly performs the ceremony, while Azeem and Robin pound on the door. – There’s so many things wrong with that scene, mainly ‘let’s show a woman married against her will and what follows.’ [I know somewhere there is a medieval law that forbade women being married unwillingly.] Mortiana goes to stop the men and encounters Azeem. She stabs him, but he impales her in return. Robin takes an alternate route, swinging in through the window. The bishop rushes out, only to run into Friar Tuck who assists in packing his gold, then pushing him out a window. Robin and the Sheriff face off, the Sheriff gleefully using Robin’s father’s sword against him. Marion helps distract the Sheriff a little, but mainly stays out of the way. John eventually has Robin pinned; when he rears back for the fatal blow, Robin pulls out a dagger and stabs the Sheriff. It’s a slow death, the Sheriff even pulling out the dagger. When we think it’s all through, Mortiana pops back up (where did she come from, wasn’t she dead?). But Azeem to the rescue again, finally breaking in the door and throwing his sword. He has fulfilled his vow to save Robin’s life.

Robin and Marion kiss and we next see their wedding. When Friar Tuck gets to the “speak now” part, a man commands them to hold. Everyone turns; it’s Richard! (Cameo by Sir Sean Connery!) His only objection is that he gives away the bride. He thanks Robin, Lord Locksley, for without him, Richard wouldn’t have a throne. Very well, Friar Tuck announces them man and wife. The couple may kiss.

My take: the action is good, I mean, explosions make everything more exciting (when used in moderation). The Sheriff’s and Robin’s duel is not my favorite sword fight, but still decent. Alan Rickman plays an excellent villain; he’s just smarmy (a bit like Snape, though the Sheriff ranges between quiet and deadly and loud and demanding). Mortiana is creepy and can we get a decent portrayal of a complex witch? Are they all supposed to be creepy and pure evil, or simply funny? [I do have a fantasy series in very early development stages that will involve women using magic, so it’s topic that I take interest in]. Azeem is a well developed character, a bit ahead of the English characters in his thinking. Marion and Robin are a bit flat, and I wish they had delved more into the connection between Will and Robin.

There are funny bits, some superb one liners (mainly Alan Rickman’s). There are creepy bits. I don’t believe the Celts were well represented, but that was a standby enemy for storytellers to use for that time period; oh, the murderous Celts, wild animals they are. The Romans built Hadrian’s Wall for a reason. Sean Connery playing King Richard was cool. Though it was odd that Prince John was never mentioned; I guess they wanted to make the story more insular, keep it as trouble within Nottingham. Watching it now, as an adult, having come to age with growing special effects, I say “it’s okay.”

Next Time: Some humor with Men in Tights

Merry Olde England

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Nigel Cawthorne introduces his book Robin Hood: The True History Behind the Legend stating “some historians say that Robin Hood has no place in history, that he is a figure of myth made up by medieval balladeers. However, there are indications that such a person did exist and several real people may have contributed to the legend.”  [Still an academic at heart; I want books from his bibliography.]  I vaguely remember one of my Scottish romance series referring to Robert the Bruce as Robin Hood. The story of Robin Hood has evolved over time as has the character, starting as a simple thief and eventually becoming the “steal from the rich and give to the poor” persona we know and love today. It is set in a historical time period and brings light to the conflict between Saxon peasants and Norman nobles (who invaded the land…the whole William the Conqueror, 1066 business.) Sir Walter Scott draws attention to that conflict in his Ivanhoe [you know you’ve taken Historical Development of the English Language when you understand the bit about dialect in the beginning]. Robin Hood appears in Ivanhoe, briefly.

Alright, enough history, on with the movie!

It stars Errol Flynn, a swashbuckling star of the thirties, Olivia de Havilland (who starred alongside Errol in several of his films, and was in Gone With the Wind) as Maid Marian, and Basil Rathbone (famous as Sherlock Holmes) as Sir Guy of Gisborne. It was directed by Michael Curtiz, who would later direct Casablanca and White Christmas. The opening writing states that the film is “based upon ancient Robin Hood legends” and places the story in 1191.

It opens with word that King Richard, on his way home from the Crusades, has been taken prisoner by Duke Leopold of Austria (that did happen). Prince John seizes control of the throne and taxes the peasant Saxons to collect “ransom” money. He and his henchman, Sir Guy toast to the hope that Richard never returns to England. Meanwhile, in the forest, a peasant, Much, shoots a deer (a real criminal act in that time; sections of land and forests were set aside for the royals to hunt. If anyone shot a deer, they’d be punished severely). Robin of Locksley and his trusty companion Will Scarlett, both in ridiculously bright capes, ride up and save Much from Sir Guy. Indebted, Much willingly follows Robin.

adventures_of_robin_hood_errol_flynn

Robin crashes the Sheriff of Nottingham’s feast for Prince John, stands up as a Saxon lord and argues that the Normans are mistreating their subjects. Lady Marion is in attendance as a royal ward and John attempts to arrange her marriage to Sir Guy. Robin charms John even when calling him a traitor, though the prince has the doors shut and silently orders his guards to attack Robin. Robin fights his way out and escapes, then calls together all the Saxon men who would follow him. Together, they’ll fight for loyalty to King Richard and take back their England. John declares Robin an outlaw. Sir Guy is free to capture and kill the pest.

In the meantime, Robin gathers more men to his cause, fighting Little John on a branch bridge with a staff. He loses, but they all have a good laugh about it. Later, they add Friar Tuck who is a great swordsman. With his band of merry men, garbed all in green and brown, Robin lays a trap for Sir Guy, the Sheriff, and the tax money. They spring it and take the loot to their hideout. Sir Guy and the Sheriff are divested of their fine garments and forced to wear rags. Robin treats Marion as a lady, though she has distain for him at first. Then he shows her the poor families that have been displaced by Sir Guy’s tax collectors. In good faith, Sir Guy and the Sheriff are led out; they must report their failure to John. Marion is also safely returned.

The trio of men: Prince John, the Sheriff, and Sir Guy, led by the Sheriff’s idea, plan an archery tournament as a way to draw out and capture Robin. Maid Marion will be the bait. Robin indeed shows, in disguise, and wins the tournament by his traditional split-the-arrow trick (which was actually performed by a professional archer). He tries to escape at the end but is overpowered. Sir Guy holds a tribunal, really more of a mockery of one. There were no witnesses to speak on Robin’s behalf, so he’s found guilty of all crimes and sentenced to hang. Marion, who has fallen in love with Robin, sends a message through her maid to the merry men. At the public hanging the next morning, they rescue him. That evening, Robin returns to the castle to climb up to Marion’s window. They exchange pleasantries and Marion admits she loves Robin; a few kisses, and Robin steals back out the window. He asked Marion to return to Sherwood with him, but she states that she will do more good watching for treachery amongst John and Sir Guy.

At a local tavern, a group of men are passing through. They briefly speak to a bishop in Prince John’s employ; the bishop overhears one of the men say “sire.” He leaves so he can report to John, which the men suspect. John, upon hearing the news that Richard is back in England, orders his brother to be killed, so he can be the new king. A disgraced knight offers to do the job. Marion is in the background and plans to get news to Robin. But Sir Guy guesses Marion’s loyalty and arrests her. John sentences her to death and Marion’s maid rushes off to get word to Robin.

The next morning, the group of men are riding and surrounded by the merry men. The leader reveals that he is a friend of Richard, so Robin lets him go, inviting him back to their hideout. On the way, the leader, disguised as an abbot, questions Robin on his actions. Robin reveals that he blames Richard for the trouble; his duty was to be home defending his people (historically, Richard barely spent any time in England. He was often on Crusade, or at his lands in France). At the hideout, Will Scarlett brings in Much, who he found injured in the woods. Much relays Marion’s danger and that a knight had orders to kill Richard. He handled the knight, but Richard must be found. The abbot casts off his cloak, revealing himself to be Richard. His other men wear the Templar cross. Robin has an idea.

They join the bishop’s retinue to get into the castle. Once there, the bishop starts the ceremony to crown John by asking him of his loyalty. Richard once more steps forward and a fight breaks out. Robin and Sir Guy duel (Basil was an expert swordsman). Sir Guy is ultimately bested and Robin rescues Marion. Prince John is deposed, Richard decrees that all Normans and Saxons will share the rights of Englishmen. He pardons the men of Sherwood and knights Robin. His first command is for Robin to marry Marion. The couple sneaks off to start their life and happily ever after.

After Disney’s animated adaptation, this would have been the next version of Robin Hood I learned. I also remember being really into swashbuckling films when I was in junior high (and being weird for knowing an actor from the thirties). This adaptation captures the carefree image of Robin; Errol laughs a lot. I feel it stems from a romantic view of history. I can handle the historical inaccuracies in this film a lot better than I handle them in BBC’s Robin Hood series from 2006. I chuckled when Will Scarlett and

1938 maid marion
I will admit, it’s pretty. But try keeping white clean! They used jewels to sparkle, not glitter.

Robin Hood first appear on screen with colorful capes. Maid Marion has a different gown on every scene she’s in (ladies had grand wardrobes, but not that much). Some of the styles are based on period gowns, but not the fabric. And oh goodness, the clashing of colors in the nobles. But, in the 30s and 40s, studios were not worried about being “historically accurate.” It’s like the Romanticism of the Victorian era; “oh, times were simpler then and people were happier.” No, medieval times were filthy and dangerous. (And in regards to BBC’s attempt: they almost did worse with the costumes…I’ll simply mention the hot pink sweater).

The sword fights were excellent, though the style was not exactly what was used in the medieval time; it was adapted more towards a fencing style. But that’s what Errol and Basil were good at. The arrows and the armor: while arrows can fit through the links in chain armor, not like that they don’t. And most men don’t fall over instantly dead from one shot. Again, it’s romanticized. Overall, it’s a fun watch, but not my favorite rendition.

Next Time: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

“Never Say We Die”

I apologize for the delay in posting, but I had a very busy weekend.  (I did manage to spend an hour or so on Valentine’s Day watching some of my favorite movie and TV show clips and eating a few pieces of delicious chocolate…fangirl through and through am I).  Now, wind in the sails for the next installment:

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Port Royal is now completely under the thumb of Lord Cutler Beckett and the East India Company; Beckett has declared martial law. He’s suspended the people’s rights and is persecuting anyone suspected of piracy or any connection to piracy. Mass hangings are underway, including a little boy, who begins singing.

“The king and his men, stole the queen from her bed. And bound her in her bones. The seas be ours, and fight the powers. Where we will, we’ll roam. Yo ho, haul together, hoist the colours high. Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die.”

Others join in and soon it’s the whole line of pirates. The wind changes and when Beckett is informed of the phenomenon (like he didn’t know, he’s sitting right there. Why his stooge felt it necessary to tell him…) he simply responds “finally.”

Next, we’re in Singapore. Elizabeth is singing the tune now, with different verses. She meets Barbossa, who has scheduled a meeting with Sao Feng. The crew of the Black Pearl sneak beneath Sao Feng’s bathhouse, which acts as his headquarters. Will was to sneak in and steal the charts they needed. Before entering the bathhouse, Elizabeth is forced to remove all her weapons; a great deal considering her slim build and Feng’s stooge takes great pleasure in ordering her to strip to just her shirt. Before Sao Feng, Barbossa informs the pirate lord he requires a ship and a crew. Sao Feng has Will brought out, well, out of the tub of water; he was caught trying to steal the charts; Elizabeth speaks before Will can be killed. Barbossa brings up that the song has been sung, a coin still rings, and the nine pirate lords must convene the Brethren Court. Sao Feng and Barbossa are two of the lords, Jack is a third. They must retrieve Jack from Davy Jones’ Locker. Feng argues that they do not stand a chance against Beckett and the East India Company; Elizabeth calls him a coward. They’re weapons are thrown to them by the crew below and a fight breaks out, complicated by the arrival of the Company. The pirates escape; Will and Sao Feng briefly making a deal; Will needs the Pearl to free his father and is willing to cross Barbossa and Jack for Sao Feng’s help. He gets the chart, and the boat and crew, getting them on their way.

There’s a short scene aboard the Endeavor showing that Norrington has been promoted to Admiral under Beckett; he receives an old friend for his new position: the sword that Will made for his previous promotion. In the background, Governor Swann is signing a slew of documents. Beckett’s displeasure of Davy Jones’ refusal to correctly follows orders leads him to take the chest aboard the Flying Dutchman to keep the captain in line. This is no longer Jones’ world; it’s Beckett’s. “I thought you would have learned that when I ordered you to kill your pet.”

The Pearl‘s crew has ventured into an icy region, attempting to decipher the charts to world’s end; they’re not as accurate as modern maps but they take you more places. The map is made of wheels that you twist, attempting to line up either words or designs or landmarks. There’s a saying about “flash of green.” Gibbs fills the uneducated in; there’s a phenomenon of a flash of green at sunset that signals a soul has returned from the dead. Not comfortingly, Barbossa comments, “it’s not getting to the land of the dead that’s the problem. It’s getting back.”

Will and Elizabeth are not speaking to each other. Elizabeth’s response is that once Jack is back, all will be well. That does not strike confidence in Will, especially about the state of their engagement. Tia Dalma offers advice to Will: “for what we want most, there is a cost that must be paid in the end.” Will has spotted that they are about to go over an edge. “Aye,” Barbossa states, “we’re good and lost now.” Again, not comforting. Will takes charge, ordering the crew to avoid the edge, but it’s too late. They brace for impact and fall.

We hear dialogue from the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride in the blackness between scenes. “Dead men tell no tales” echoes as we’re blinded by the Locker. There are numerous Jack Sparrow doppelgangers board the Pearl. Jack is hallucinating; driven mad by the emptiness of the Locker; all sand, the Pearl cannot sail, there’s not even a breeze. He blames his predicament on the thinking “give a man another chance.” (Not entirely sure who he is thinking of at that point) He washes his hands of the weirdness and swings off the ship, onto the ground. Oh, there’s a crab! Let’s throw it, and when it comes back, let’s lick it, for no good reason. After attempting to pull the Pearl, it begins moving. A whole host of crabs are acting like a wave and carry the Pearl through the dunes to the ocean. Jack gives chase to his ship and as the Pearl arrives at its destination, he’s standing atop the mast like he did when he entered Port Royal (complete with the same strain of music).

At the beach, the Pearl’s crew washes up. They’re surprised to see the Pearl moving and happy to see Jack. But Jack believes they’re all hallucinations. Until Elizabeth speaks up; that breaks him out of it. Then he’s not too keen on letting people who have betrayed him back on the Pearl, including Barbossa, Will, and Elizabeth. Except they are the ones who might have an idea on how to escape the Locker. Barbossa and Jack are back to bickering over the Pearl and Will confronts Elizabeth about her part in how Jack died. She claims that she didn’t have a choice; she had to sacrifice Jack to save them. It was her burden to bear, she couldn’t tell Will. He points out that he carried the burden anyway, he just didn’t know what it was. If Elizabeth makes her choices alone, how can he trust her? He can’t.

The Pearl comes across bodies, then boats of departed souls. Tia explains that they should be in the care of Davy Jones; that was his mission, to ferry the souls from one world to the next. But he has corrupted his mission. Elizabeth spots her father amongst the boats and for a moment, believes they’ve made it back. They haven’t; they’re still in the Locker. Which means her father is dead. At Beckett’s orders, Governor Swann explains. He had begun asking too many questions about the heart. He discovered that if you stab the heart, your heart must take its place and you become the next captain of the Dutchman. Elizabeth desperately tries to bring her father aboard, almost leaving the ship. Will stops her and comforts her, even asking Tia Dalma if there was a way. He’s at peace.

The ship becomes stuck in doldrums; they’ve little water left and if they don’t make it back to the living world soon, they’ll all die and be stuck in the Locker. Jack has had an opportunity to play with the map and comes across a new phrase: “Up is down.” His little hallucinations help him mull the phrase over until he realizes that sunset may mean sundown. If they flip the ship at sundown, down becomes up, meaning sunup. The rest of the crew catches on and a flash of green and it works! Then the five leads all pull guns on each other: Jack points at Elizabeth, who points at Barbossa, behind whom is Gibbs, Barbossa points at Will, and Will points at Jack. Barbossa states that he and Jack need to make for Shipwreck Cove for the Brethren Court. Jack would rather sail the opposite direction. They fire, only for their pistols to click; wet powder. Will comes up with the arrangement that Barbossa and Jack go ashore to re-provision the ship and leave him in charge of the Pearl, temporarily.

On the shores of their refueling island lays the carcass of the Kraken. They also discover one of Sao Feng’s men, dead in the water. Turning around, Sao Feng’s ship is nearing the Pearl. Back aboard, Will has led a mutiny to take control of the Pearl, with an agreement from Sao Feng; he needs it to catch the Flying Dutchman to free his father. Except the pirate lord reneges on his promise. Then Beckett’s men come aboard; Sao Feng had an agreement with them. Basically, at this point, everyone is betraying everyone else for their own goals and not telling anyone else; acting like pirates and whatnot. In the end, Elizabeth agrees to go with Sao Feng, perturbed that Will hadn’t told her about his plan to rescue his father (turnabout is fair play, Miss Swann). Will is put in the brig of the Black Pearl. Jack goes across ships to meet with Beckett aboard the Endeavor.

Beckett threatens to inform Jones of Jack’s return, thereby not squaring his debt with the tentacle fellow. But, if Jack fills in Beckett on the Brethren Court, its members, why the nine pieces of eight, and where they’re meeting, Beckett will keep his mouth shut and ensure Jack’s freedom. Except, Beckett has Jack’s compass, so why would he need Jack? Jack’s response is that Beckett needs an inside man. Then the pirate escapes back to the Pearl and they’re off for Shipwreck Cove. Will eventually escapes the brig and leaves a trail of dead bodies for the Endeavor to follow (they were delayed due to Jack damaging the ship in his escape). Jack is polite enough to not raise the alarm so he can speak to the whelp. Being insightful, Jack notes that Will does not trust Elizabeth; Will divulges that he feels he’s losing the woman he loves. Every step towards his father is a step away from Elizabeth. Ah, Jack has an idea. Let Jack be the one to stab the heart; he becomes immortal. He seems fine with the idea of only stepping on land once every ten years. He proceeds to knock Will overboard, with the compass (by breathing on him, his breath must really stink).

Meanwhile, Sao Feng believes Elizabeth to be the sea goddess Calypso, bound in human form. He agrees with Barbossa that they’re best shot at defeating Beckett is to free Calypso, something only the whole Brethren Court can do. Just as Sao Feng makes a move on Elizabeth, the Flying Dutchman catches up and fires on them. Sao Feng is killed, but manages to pass captaincy on to Elizabeth. Admiral Norrington is in charge of the Dutchman and that evening frees Elizabeth and her crew. He was shocked to see her among the pirates and dismayed to learn of her father’s death. He’s coming to realize he may have chosen the wrong side. While in the brig of the Dutchman, Elizabeth meets Bootstrap Bill, who is becoming more a part of the ship, punishment for helping Will earlier. Bill guesses who Elizabeth is and states that Will cannot free Bill if he wants to be with Elizabeth. When the crew is let out, Bill follows, and as “part of the crew, part of the ship,” he raises the alarm. Norrington cuts the line so Elizabeth can escape and is stabbed by Bill. Jones admires the Admiral’s sword and his crew intend to take the ship, but his heart is still in danger.

Jones is then called to the Endeavor to meet with Beckett, and Will. Will casually informs Jones that Jack is back, spoiling Beckett’s hold on that information; and showing Jones that he can’t trust Beckett. He also states that the Brethren Court intends to free Calypso, which infuriates Jones. He will lead them to Shipwreck Cove in exchange for Jones freeing Bill and Beckett guaranteeing Elizabeth’s safety.

Meanwhile, at Shipwreck Cove, the Brethren Court argues amongst itself. Elizabeth brings the news that Beckett is on his way to wipe out the pirates. She proposes fighting. Another argues they can hide in the Cove and outlast Beckett. Barbossa wants to free Calypso; if they do so, she may grant them boon. Jack points out that Calypso is a woman scorned, whose fury hell hath no, and thus not likely to grant boon to the Court that imprisoned her. He cannot believe he is saying it, but he agrees with Captain Swann; they must fight…to run away. Barbossa points out that an act of war can only be declared by the Pirate King. And the Pirate King is elected by popular vote amongst the Brethren Court; and each captain always votes for themselves. Jack unexpectedly votes for Elizabeth. She commands every seaworthy ship be made ready for war. Jack visits with the Keeper of the Code, Captain Teague; his father (cameo by Keith Richards from The Rolling Stones, and part of Johnny Depp’s inspiration for Jack Sparrow).

Jones visits Tia Dalma aboard the Black Pearl, confirming that she is Calypso and he did help the first Brethren Court is binding her to one human form. He loved her, but after he did his duty for ten years and was able to step back on land, she was not where he left her. But that’s her nature, would he love her if she was anything else? Then Jones corrupted his purpose and that is how he gained the tentacle face. Jones tries to claim that he has no heart, but before he leaves, he whispers “my heart will always belong to you.” Calypso will not have any mercy for the Court; punishment for imprisoning her.

The next morning is a parlay (director Gore Verbinksi provides the electric guitar solo; they were out of time and he was available and able to play) between Barbossa, Elizabeth, and Jack, and Beckett, Jones, and Will. Barbossa’s initial reaction is that Will was the traitor amongst the pirates. Beckett clears that up by revealing Jack the master orchestrator. Elizabeth warns Will that freeing his father is a lost cause; Will still doesn’t give up. Barbossa and Jack exchange words and Will and Jack switch sides. So, Jack is aboard the Dutchman per the overall grand scheme of things, still accompanied by his hallucinations. Over aboard the Pearl, Barbossa has gathered all nine pieces of eight from the pirate lords (they’re not coins, just bits and bobs the lords happened to have on them at the first Court, then passed down to their successor captains). Tia Dalma is bound and he begins the process to free her. Burn the pieces of eight and then say “Calypso, I release you from your human bonds,” as if by a lover. Surprisingly, Ragetti understands better than Barbossa. Tia grows and turns into a tower of crabs that rush overboard.

With Calypso gone and not likely to grant Barbossa’s favor, the pirates doubt they can win. They face an armada, with the Flying Dutchman at the lead. Elizabeth rallies the pirates. No, revenge won’t bring back her father and it’s not worth dying for. But what is worth dying for is the ability to tame the seas by the sweat of their brows and the strength of their backs. The other ships will look to the Pearl to lead them and they will see free men. “Gentlemen, hoist the colours.” Those flags are based on historical pirate flags (the music is once again awesome).

The winds blow and a storm bursts. A maelstrom swirls and the Dutchman and Pearl face off across the whirlpool. Jack escapes the brig on the Dutchman by thinking like the whelp and using leverage to pop the door off. He grabs the chest, then swings about the rigging trying to escape Jones and his crew. Over on the Pearl, Will has made his decision. “Elizabeth, will you marry me?” “I don’t think now’s the best time.” “Now may be the only time!” Elizabeth asks Barbossa to marry them (Will’s confused for a second) and he keeps getting interrupted by attacking sailors, so the couple exchanges their own awe kissvows. Then – the most epic kiss of all time! I gush every time I see it, or hear the music and remember the scene. Now married, Will swings over to the Dutchman, after seeing Jack in trouble. The masts of the two ships tangle. Will gets a hold of the chest, but Bill, not realizing who he’s attacking, stops Will. Elizabeth now swings over and faces Jones. He knocks her down and Will stabs him. But Jones cannot die. He twists the end of the blade sticking out of his chest so Will can’t remove it. He sees the emotions exchanged between Will and Elizabeth; “love, a dreadful bond, yet so easily severed.” Jack stops him, showing that he’s holding Jones’s heart, his broken sword poised over it. In retaliation, Jones stabs Will, ironically with Norrington’s old sword that Will crafted. Bill finally comes to his senses and tackles Jones, giving Jack the chance to position Will to stab the heart. Jones, now dead, falls into the whirlpool.

Barbossa orders the masts shot to save the Pearl. Jack pulls Elizabeth away from Will, the Dutchman crew is approaching, chanting “part of the crew, part of the ship.” They escape the sinking ship and are picked up by the Pearl. But the fight is not over, there’s still the Endeavor to deal with. It advances towards the Pearl, but the Dutchman bursts forth,

flying dutchman captain
Looking very much a proper pirate

decay falling from its hull (the sky is now blue again). Will stands at the helm, bearing a new jagged scar. The Dutchman and Pearl come along either side of the Endeavor, and fire. The ship is reduced to splinters, claiming Beckett, who simply mutters, “it’s just good business.” He understands why both ships turned on him. The armada flees; the pirates have won. They celebrate and throw their hats. Even Jack, though a minute later he sends Gibbs to retrieve it.

The crew of the Black Pearl (with added members Murtogg and Mullory) bid Elizabeth farewell, she is to join her husband on land for one night before he attends to his duties as the new captain of the Flying Dutchman. Barbossa refers to her as Mrs. Turner, a callback to how she introduced herself to him during Curse of the Black Pearl. She has her own call back with Jack, saying it would have never worked out between them, though she sincerely thanks him.

awe beach

I find the scene on the beach between Will and Elizabeth incredibly romantic. Will asks Elizabeth to keep the chest with his heart safe. They share a final kiss and he boards the Dutchman. A flash of green and sunset.

We find Jack strolling along a dock with two women (the two who slapped him last time he was in Tortuga), ready to show them the Black Pearl. But it is once again, gone. Barbossa has sailed off with it, leaving Jack a little dinghy. Barbossa intends to find the Fountain of Youth, but when he unrolls the map, the center part is missing, snatched by Jack. The ending scene, after the credits, is ten years later, a little boy singing A Pirate’s Life for Me, accompanied by his mother, Elizabeth. A flash of green and Will has returned.

pirates premiere
I’m the one wearing pirate garb; because it was a premiere for a Pirates movie. The other ladies dressed as one for a movie premiere in Hollywood.

This was one movie I attended the midnight premiere of, with a couple of my friends. When Will was stabbed, I cried. The friend sitting next to me whispered to our friend sitting next to her that I was crying. Our friend told her to just let me. That was really just the start of the fandom life. I have cried through several episodes of Supernatural, including the recent 300th episode. I feel it’s the mark of a good story and good character development when fans get emotionally attached to characters.

I have seen this movie several times and I still don’t completely understand everyone’s deals; who they made them with and for what. Ultimately, our heroes remain heroic in the end. The bad guy gets his just reward…which was awesome. I do not like Beckett; it is heavily suggested amongst fans that Jack at one point was hired by Beckett to transport goods, which turned out to be slaves. Jack refused and Beckett branded him. I get that Davy Jones and Calypso (who became Tia Dalma) were in love, and I can see that after all that time they still love each other deep down, and that after ten years, Jones returned to wherever and Calypso wasn’t there, but I guess I don’t quite understand why he went completely off the deep end. And if we look at the lyrics of “Hoist the Colours,” we find out that they tell the story of binding Calypso. “The king and his men” = the Pirate King and the Court. “Stole the queen from her bed; and bound her in her bones” = Calypso. As Barbossa claimed: “the seas be ours and fight the powers. Where we will, we’ll roam.”

Still hate the love triangle they played with at the beginning between Will, Elizabeth, and Jack. Will and Elizabeth, I’m rooting for you, but why can you not just talk to each other! Very glad they got back together in the end, my favorite part of the movie. But seriously. While I do prefer this movie to later sequels, I am holding to the view that the original was the best and honestly, no sequels were needed; I think it just complicated matters. However, the action was epic, as was the music and in due course, the story ended satisfyingly.

There are some incredible youtube videos you can check out:
The Piano Guys have a version of the theme they perform, as does Two Cellos. Taylor Davis and David Garrett both play violin versions of the theme. The Hillywood Show does a parody of the movies (they have a slew of other parodies you should check out!)

Fanfic Recommendations:
The biggest one I can give you is mypiratecat1’s works; they were written before the fourth and fifth installments, but give the main characters a happy ending and takes them into their future.

So next time, we’re on to the Robin Hood legend. What are your thoughts on pirate movies? Who’s your favorite character from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise?

“Yo Ho Ho, and a Bottle of Rum”

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

The middle film in the original trilogy, when Disney decided to expand on the success of the first film. Story wise, it mainly serves to set up the third film (they were filmed back-to-back). There’s great action, another great soundtrack (composed by Hans Zimmer), and the characters are nicely developed. But where Curse of the Black Pearl could stand on its own as a fulfilling story, this one needs At World’s End to tie up loose ends. Bill Nighy (he went on to play Minister Rufus Scrimgeour in Deathly Hallows, and he was the art professor in Doctor Who‘s episode on Vincent Van Gogh) joins the cast as Davy Jones, Stellan Skarsgård (he plays Bill in both Mamma Mia movies and is Dr. Erik Selvig in the MCU) is Bootstrap Bill, Tom Hollander (he appeared alongside Keira Knightley in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice) is Lord Cutler Beckett, and Naomie Harris (Eve Moneypenny in the more recent James Bond films) is Tia Dalma [those two characters barely look like each other…wow].

It opens on a rained-out wedding, Will and Elizabeth’s. Will has been arrested by a new batch of British soldiers for his actions in freeing Jack Sparrow. Lord Cutler Beckett is in command and also has a warrant for Elizabeth’s arrest, as well as James Norrington. Norrington resigned his post and is no longer at Port Royal. With our stars already in trouble, we cut to the Black Pearl, waiting outside some sort of prison. Coffins are being thrown into the ocean; a bird lands on one, then is shot off. A hand emerges, followed by Jack. Once aboard the Pearl again, he delivers his treasure, a drawing of a key. The crew is not initially impressed; it’s been some time since they’d done honest pirating and they want a more shiny reward. But Jack talks them around, though the crew also notices he’s acting stranger; for instance, his compass isn’t working.

Back in Port Royal, Beckett has a proposition for Will; in exchange for Jack’s compass, Beckett will grant the man letters of mark, pardoning him and allowing him to survive as a privateer for England. Cutting back to the Pearl, Jack ventures into the hold for some more rum and discovers an old friend: Bootstrap Bill, covered in barnacles. Bill congratulates Jack on getting the Pearl back; Jack informs him that his son, young William, helped in that matter. Bill is dismayed that Will has turned to a life of piracy, but continues with his message: time’s up for Jack. Davy Jones is calling in his debt. He passes on the Black Spot to Jack. Jack proceeds to wake the rest of the crew and informs them to head towards land.

Will visits his betrothed in prison and explains Beckett’s deal. Governor Swann doesn’t trust Jack to help Will and Elizabeth and wants to pursue other courses of action. There’s a funny bit when the couple speaks to each other, Elizabeth’s father standing only a few feet away and Elizabeth informs her fiancé “if it weren’t for these bars, I’d have you already,” startling her father. He breaks a light similar to Will had broken in his home in the previous film. Governor Swann later sneaks Elizabeth out of prison, intending to put her on a ship bound for England. His only concern is his daughter; he’ll help Will as best he can, but knows that the lad will most certainly hang and all the better for Elizabeth to leave Port Royal. Doesn’t seem like he completely approves of his future son-in-law. Their plan is ruined when Beckett’s man kills the friendly captain. Elizabeth snuck out of the carriage in the commotion and holds a pistol to Beckett. She tries to warn him of the cursed Aztec gold, but “there’s more than one chest of value in these waters,” Beckett informs her. She takes the letters, but Beckett warns her he will still want Jack’s compass.

elizabeth vs beckett

Will is eventually led to an island where the Pearl sits on the beach. He’s captured and taken before the natives’ chief: Jack. Jack speaks nonsense words with the natives and finally whispers “Save me” to Will, despite Will stating that he needs Jack’s help to save Elizabeth. Once Will is put with the rest of the crew in hanging bone cages, Gibbs informs him that while the natives view Jack as their chief and thus a god, there is a ceremony to free the god from his human form; the fire they’re building is for that purpose. Will takes charge; they must escape Jack plays along, insisting on more wood and when the opportune moment comes, he runs away. He’s caught and gotten ready for the fire. But the crew has been caught climbing the cliff (Mythbusters tested whether that could be done; the cage could not be swung the way its shown in the movie, but a crew can climb up a wall). Jack has another chance to escape. He joins his crew back at the Pearl; Will first insisted they couldn’t leave without Jack, but upon seeing the whole village of natives chasing the man, he quips “time to go.” They get safely away.

To rescue Elizabeth, Jack states they need to go upriver. They visit Tia Dalma, who informs Will “you have a touch of destiny about you.” To Jack, she cackles, “Jack Sparrow does not know what he wants.” When Will asks about the key, which Jack has told him ultimately leads to a way to save Elizabeth, Tia Dalma tells the crew about Davy Jones. He fell in love, but eventually, the love was too painful, so he cut out his own heart and buried it in a chest. The key unlocks that chest. She reveals Jack’s Black Spot, showing that Jones is after Jack. Since Jones cannot step on dry land except once every ten years, land is where they will be safe, so they will carry land with them. She gives Jack a jar of dirt. Then she casts for the location of the Flying Dutchman.

They come upon a shipwreck. Jack sends Will over, the lad’s plan is simple enough, cut down any in his path to the key. Oh, and if Will needs, tell them that Jack Sparrow sent him to settle his debt. Will eventually comes before Davy Jones as he offers the dying sailors from the other ship the chance to forestall judgment day by serving one hundred years on his ship: “do you fear death?” When Jones comes to Will, he asks his purpose. Will says what Jack told him. The captain visits the pirate aboard the Pearl. Their deal was Jack got to be captain for thirteen years; time’s up. Now Jack is to serve aboard the Dutchman for a hundred years. Jack wishes to further postpone that trip and haggles for how many souls is his worth. Answer, one hundred. Jones will keep Will for the time being. After their encounter, Jack orders Gibbs to head for Tortuga.

Elizabeth has apparently snuck aboard another ship, changed into men’s clothing and the crew finds her wedding dress. They first think it’s a sign from a spirit. Elizabeth comes up with the plan to use that notion to her advantage and direct the ship to Tortuga. There, Norrington comes forward under the guise to join Jack’s crew. Really, he wants revenge for the pirate ruining his life; his clothes are filthy, he’s drunk, he lost his ship, his crew, his position, everything. So those two men start a riot in the tavern. Elizabeth joins in and eventually knocks Norrington out when he becomes too annoying. She then tracks down Jack and asks about Will. Jack spins her the tale that in order to save Will, she needs to find the chest, revealing that his compass “points to the thing you want most in this world.” (This is where the line from the new Disney intro “we have our heading!” comes from)

Aboard the Dutchman there is confusion over an order for “Mr. Turner;” both Will and Bill respond and that confusion lets a canon drop on deck. Five lashes are issued to Will. Bill steps in to take the punishment. Davy Jones inquires why he would take the punishment; Bill responds “he’s my son.” Jones finds it poetically cruel and forces Bill to whip is own son’s back. Later, Will retorts he doesn’t need his father’s help, though Bill is urging Will to get off the ship. Will has sworn no oath to Jones and is not bound to the ship. Will tells him about his search for the Dead Man’s Chest, which a veteran crewmember (who is almost completely one with the ship) informs them don’t stab the heart. The Dutchman needs a living heart, or there will be no captain. We’re still left a little confused. But Will comes up with a plan; he challenges Davy Jones to the game Liar’s Dice. He wagers a lifetime of service in exchange for the key, which makes Jones reveal it’s hidden in his tentacle face. Bill jumps into the game and in the end throws it so his son will remain free. That evening, after Jones falls asleep at his organ, Will sneaks in and steals the key. Bill has a boat waiting for him and gives his son a knife. Will takes it with the promise that he will find some way to free his father; he won’t abandon him. [I think that’s a bit of a dig at Bill abandoning Will and his mother years ago]

Back in Port Royal, Beckett meets with Governor Swann. He warns the man that he has ships in pursuit of Jack, Will, and now Elizabeth. There could easily be a battle and the father can only imagine what will happen to his daughter. In exchange for possibly saving Elizabeth, Beckett wants Swann’s authority as governor, his influence in London, and ultimately, his loyalty.

 

dmc will
Gotta say, Will looks more like a pirate this time around (and I like it)

Will manages to hitch a ride on another ship, the same one Elizabeth used to get to Tortuga; he recognizes her wedding dress. But the ship seems to have struck a reef. That’s how the other ship was caught by the Dutchman. Davy Jones has discovered Will’s deception and forces Bill to watch as the Dutchman’s crew calls the Kraken and sends it to the other ship. Will does escape (at one point, sliding down a sail with a knife to slow his descent: Mythbusters also tested this but found that it didn’t work due to the ribbing in the sail; my argument with their test, the ribbing was done in a different direction in the movie, vertical compared to horizontal), briefly catching his breath on a piece of driftwood (a callback to his first appearance in the previous film), before eventually hiding in the front of the Dutchman. Jones orders for them to make for his chest, attempting to beat Sparrow.

In the meantime, Norrington overhears Elizabeth, Jack, and Gibbs discussing the letters of mark. Gibbs comments that if the East India Company controls the heart, they’ll control the seas, which is bad for every pirate. Norrington (I’m not sure why he does this aside from he’s still mad that Elizabeth chose Will over him) insinuates that Elizabeth is attracted to Jack. She’s appalled. Later, Jack notes that they are similar people, he and Elizabeth. She retorts that Jack lacks a sense of honor, decency, a moral center, and personal hygiene. Jack responds that Elizabeth will come over to his side, of piracy, because she’ll want the freedom. Elizabeth counters that Jack will want to be a good man; he’ll want the reward. They get very close to one another, almost seducing the other. They’re interrupted by coming upon the island.

Jack, Elizabeth, and Norrington go ashore to dig up the chest. Will arrives just as the chest is found, Elizabeth happily embraces and kisses her fiancé. He has to thank Jack for his reunion with his father aboard the Dutchman. Elizabeth realizes that everything Jack told her was a lie. Jack can’t let Will stab the heart, freeing Bill, because then who will call off the Kraken? He holds his sword to Will, Will returns the favor, and Norrington pulls out his sword; he can’t let Will stab the heart because he needs to deliver the chest to Beckett to get his life back. So, all three begin dueling each other. Ragetti and Pintel (the pirate comedic duo) steal the chest, Elizabeth goes after them and they’re soon fighting the crew of the Dutchman (with only two swords between the three of them; Will has Elizabeth’s). The trio of men end up at an old church with a water wheel attached, all fighting over the key. The duel takes them aboard the wheel once it’s broken away. It’s a great bit of choreography and I’m sure not easy to film.

wheel duel

In the end, Jack is able to open the chest and takes the heart and stuffs it down his shirt. When he gets back to the rowboat, he puts it in the jar of dirt. Norrington finds the letters, and spots the mess with the dirt. When Will finds the chest, Jack knocks him out to prevent him from opening it. Cornered by the Dutchman‘s crew, Norrington offers to take the chest and distract them so the others can get away. He eventually drops the chest, letting the crew take it.

Aboard the Pearl, Jack taunts Davy Jones: “I’ve got a jar of dirt! And guess what’s inside it!” [there’s another hilarious remix of this] Well, Jones orders his crew to open fire on the Pearl, send it back to the depths. The Pearl turns and flees; against the wind, the Dutchman is faster which is how it traps its victims, but with the wind, the Pearl has the advantage. Will wants to turn and fight and free his father. Jack smirks that it’s better to negotiate. When the ship shudders, his jar of dirt falls and breaks. “Where’s the thump thump?” The heart is gone. Jones lets the Pearl take the lead; he has his crew call up the Kraken. Will has seen this tactic before and takes charge. They’ll load the gunpowder…and rum, into the cargo net. He hands a rifle to Elizabeth, she better not miss [I forgot this part of the movie, which is sad, cause it’s awesome!].

Meanwhile, Jack has taken the only boat and is planning on escaping. But he catches sight of the plight of his ship and crew and checks his compass. Elizabeth spots him and mutters “Coward.” There’s a bit of chaos and confusion when the net is finally lifted and Will manages to catch his foot in the ropes. Elizabeth loses hold of the gun for a moment when a tentacle grabs her; Pintel and Ragetti save her. When she finds it, a boot is on it: Jack. He takes the rifle and shoots just as Will drops. The tentacles of the Kraken are wrapped around the barrels and they’re blown. Except they haven’t killed the Kraken, they’ve only made it angry. Jack gives the order to abandon ship. Elizabeth stops to thank Jack and kisses him (Will sees…and apparently that bit was not in Orlando’s script so they got a more genuine reaction). What Will doesn’t see is Elizabeth chain Jack to the mast. She claims to the six other survivors that Jack elected to stay behind. Jack frees himself just as the mouth of the Kraken comes over the side. He gets a whole bunch of spit shot at him, including his hat. Striking a hero pose, he snarks “Hello, beastie,” and is devoured.

Jones isn’t as pleased as he thought he would be with Jack’s demise. He checks the chest and finds it empty. He curses Sparrow. Actually, Norrington has the heart and delivers it to Beckett.

The crew of the Pearl hold a memorial for Jack at Tia Dalma’s shack. Will, seeing how upset Elizabeth is, and not completely understanding why, offers to try to get Jack back. Tia asks them how far are they willing to go? Will they brave the haunted and weird shores at world’s end? [title dropping the next movie] They all agree. So, they’ll need a captain who knows those waters. Boots come down the stairs…Barbossa is back. (The cast wasn’t aware it was Barbossa returning, so they’re surprise was genuine)

Overall, I still find this movie better than the fourth and fifth installments. As stated previously, I liked the character development. I still really can’t stand Jack (a bit too dishonest), but I can appreciate that they are showing different sides of him and showing a more genuine heroic streak. Norrington is still a bit of a jerk; I hate Beckett. He wants power for power’s sake and will use any means to obtain it. It was insinuated that he’s had a run in with Jack before and is most likely the one responsible for branding Jack as a pirate and possibly the reason Jack had to get the Pearl back in the first place, thus causing his deal with Jones.

I have mixed feelings about Elizabeth. What I dislike the most about this film is the ridiculous love triangle they felt inclined to include. It was shown that Elizabeth like Will from a young age, putting aside social barriers to befriend him and she only made the deal with Norrington in the first film to save Will. The whole flirting bit aboard the Pearl between Jack and Elizabeth is nonsense. Yes, it points out that underneath it all, Elizabeth has a pirate streak and Jack has a good streak and Jack is more likely to flirt with a woman that speak honestly. But what bugs me the most is how it hurts Will. A man who always tries to do the right thing. He finds out his long-lost and believed dead father is actually alive and bond in service aboard the Flying Dutchman; he’s angry for a little bit, but still decides to save his father, rather than leave him to his fate. While he does view Jack as a friend on occasion, the main reason he goes after the pirate is to save Elizabeth. I still like the fact that Elizabeth will join in the fight for her freedom, and Will’s. But she doesn’t tell Will what she did when the Pearl was taken and lets her fiancé stew.

Now, the action was amazing. They were ingenious in how the Pearl fought the Kraken, throwing in nice dramatic moments. The duel on the wheel was incredible and even just having a three-way duel was cool; two people sometimes joining to fight one, or all hacking away at each other individually. The featured cellist in the soundtrack was superb; a cello brings such warmth and emotion to a piece. The Kraken’s theme echoes the sense of something stalking the hero, waiting for the right moment to strike, then wreaking terrible destruction. Very cool to bring in the organ in such a manner, not only having it play a mournful tune, but also underneath the attack.

We’ll finish up next time with At World’s End

“Drink Up Me Hearties, Yo Ho!”

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

I adore this movie; love the storyline, the action, the soundtrack. It came out when I started high school; it premiered in Disneyland, home of the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride and was the first movie to premier in Disneyland. Major cast list includes Johnny Depp (the go-to actor for Tim Burton…I don’t watch Tim Burton films) as Captain Jack Sparrow, Orlando Bloom (Legolas in Lord of the Rings) as Will Turner, Keira Knightley (she had been in Princess of Thieves and as the handmaiden in Phantom Menace before this, but I think she got really popular after) as Elizabeth Swann, Geoffrey Rush (Shakespeare in Love) as Barbossa, Jonathan Pryce (Bond villain in Tomorrow Never Dies and the antagonist in What a Girl Wants) as Governor Weatherby Swann, Kevin McNally (appears as Frank Devereaux, the paranoid guy in Supernatural…I did not put those two together) as Mr. Gibbs, and Lee Arenberg (who later appears as Leroy/Grumpy in Once Upon a Time) is Pintel-one half of one of the comedic duos. Zoe Saldana (later stars as Nyota Uhura in the nuStarTrek movies and Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy) features as Anamaria.

Fun fact I discovered, the ship that was used for the Interceptor, Lady Washington was used in Once Upon a Time as Killian Jones/Captain Hook’s ship The Jolly Roger. Cool! The figurehead on the ship that brings the Swanns to the Caribbean bears the coat of arms of the United Kingdom and is the real figurehead of the H.M.S. Victory, which was commanded by Lord Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar and now serves as a museum and is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. Speaking of sailing vessels, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (based on the Aubrey Maturin series of novels by Patrick O’Brien) came out the same year…and the same year as Return of the King (my brother was not pleased that Return of the King beat out Master and Commander at the Oscars…I was pleased).

I appreciate that the prologue to the film was not narrated or an exposition scene; we start right in with young Elizabeth Swann singing A Pirate’s Life For Me. Gibbs tells her off, warning that it will bring about pirates. Elizabeth is excited to meet one, claiming it would be “fascinating.” Governor Swann does not approve of his daughter’s interest and Lieutenant Norrington doesn’t help matters when he informs young Elizabeth that he plans to put an end to piracy by giving any man who sails under that banner what they deserve: a short drop and a sudden stop (as Gibbs mimes, hanging). Out of the fog floats a boy on wreckage. He’s recued and Governor Swann puts Elizabeth in charge of him. The ship discovers the rest of the wreck, sinking and in flames. Gibbs says what everyone is thinking: pirates. Elizabeth takes in her charge and discovers he’s wearing a gold coin with a stylized skull, a pirate medallion. She tucks it away as her charge comes to for a moment, long enough to say his name is Will Turner. As they sail past the smoldering wreck, Elizabeth glimpses a dark skip with torn sails, and a skull and crossbones flag.

Eight years later, Elizabeth wakes from her dream. She pulls to coin out of its hiding place and tucks it away as her father enters bearing a gift, a new dress and corset to wear to the promotion ceremony. Norrington is now a Commodore. While servants lace Elizabeth into the new fashion (“women in London must have learned not to breathe”: as someone who has worn a corset, yes, there is a fine line between holding you and being too tight, and they do making breathing and sitting more difficult) Will Turner, apprentice blacksmith waits downstairs. He presents Governor Swann with his order of a new sword for the promoted Commodore. Governor Swann is pleased and passes along his compliments; looking at Will’s face, we know that it was Will who made the sword, not his master, “a craftsman is always pleased to hear his work is appreciated.” Elizabeth arrives downstairs and is very familiar with Will; they’re friends. Will is aware of the status difference between the governor’s daughter and an apprentice blacksmith. But once she leaves for the ceremony it is also plain that Will is in love with Elizabeth Swann.

jack sparrow entranceWe cut to Jack “sailing” into Port Royal; his little dingy is sinking, so not much actual “sailing.” While there is a big to-do going on up at the fort [in case anyone is interested, the fifes and drums are playing Rule Britannia at the start of the ceremony], he sneaks aboard the Dauntless, throwing the guards into a tizzy. When they ask his purpose in Port Royal and demand no lies, he informs them “it is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, pick up a crew in Tortuga, and raid, pillage, plunder, and otherwise pilfer my weaseley black guts out.” In the meantime, at the ceremony, Norrington speaks to Elizabeth. With this promotion, it throws light to the matter that he is not yet married to a fine woman. He views Miss Swann as a fine woman and wishes to marry her. The heat and confining nature of the corset take a toll on Elizabeth; she can’t breathe and passes out, falling over the edge and into the ocean. Norrington is cautioned to wait; it’s a miracle she missed the rocks. Jack and the guards see Elizabeth fall as well; the guards can’t swim so it’s up to Jack to rescue the damsel in distress. Underwater, the coin pulses and the wind changes. Jack must leave the gown behind to get Elizabeth to safety; once on the dock, he cuts away the corset when Elizabeth isn’t breathing…good thing he’s been to Singapore. Jack recognizes Elizabeth’s coin.

Norrington and his men have arrived and Governor Swann, seeing the nature of undress his daughter is in, wants to hang Jack. Elizabeth protests, he’s the man who saved her. Norrington offers congratulations, but reveals that Jack has been branded a pirate by the East India Trading Company and the tattoo marks him a Jack Sparrow. His effects include a pistol with a single shot and a compass that doesn’t point north. He is by far the worst pirate Norrington has ever heard of; “but you have heard of me.” When Elizabeth protests further, Norrington insists that “one good deed does not redeems a lifetime of wickedness.” With Elizabeth close to him, Jack holds her hostage and manages an escape.

He eventually finds himself in the blacksmith shop; the master is asleep. Jack sets about trying to break his manacles apart. A hammer doesn’t work, so he gets the wheel running and that does the trick. But Will has returned from his errands. He notices the hammer out of place and notices a strange hat. Before he can touch it, Jack slaps his hand away with a sword. The boy seems familiar, has he threatened him before? Will grabs his own sword and the duel plays out. At times it’s almost like a test; Jack compliments Will’s form and footwork. (The sword strikes seem to be timed perfectly to the soundtrack, or vice versa, anyway…it’s brilliant!) The pirate goes to leave, but Will throws his sword, hitting right under the lock so Jack can’t leave. He retrieves another sword and they’re back at it, around the wheel, onto a cart, and into the rafters.

smithy duel

It’s brilliant fight choreography: they got Errol Flynn’s sword master (in case it’s a genre you don’t watch, Errol Flynn is a famous swashbuckling actor from the Golden Age of Hollywood, most recognized for his portrayal of Robin Hood – I will be getting to that film not far in the future) Bob Anderson, who has also worked on The Lord of the Rings trilogy [he was working on the Hobbit trilogy when he died], several James Bond films, the original Star Wars films, and The Princess Bride. It’s creative, engaging, and shows off a lot of hard work. I love a good sword fight!

In the end, Jack cheats, pulling his pistol in an effort to get Will to let him leave. Will’s master sneaks up and knock Jack out as the soldiers arrive. Of course, he gets all the credit. That night, a dark ship sails into port and opens fire on the fort. The crew comes ashore and begins terrorizing the town. Will arms himself and joins the fray, fighting the pirates. Elizabeth’s maid urges her mistress to hide, while Elizabeth instructs her to run to the fort for help when she gets the chance. A band of pirates break into the governor’s mansion and two seek out Elizabeth; the gold calls to them. She’s got fire in her; she holds them off at one point with her bed warming pan and tries to pull out a ceremonial sword. She eventually invokes the right of “parlay,” which the Pirate Code allows her to speak to the captain.

Two of the other pirates find Jack in the dungeon. They remember him, but he’s supposed to be dead, they left him marooned. His comeback is that “the deepest circles of Hell are reserved for betrayers and mutineers.” One pirate’s hand turns to skeleton in the moonlight when he grabs Jack; “so there is a curse.”

Aboard the Black Pearl Elizabeth negotiates a cessation of hostilities with Captain Barbossa; “I want you to leave and never come back.” Barbossa is “disinclined to acquiesce to your request….means ‘no’.” Very well, she’ll drop the pirate medallion overboard. No! When Barbossa asks her name, Elizabeth gives them the surname ‘Turner.’ Barbossa agrees. But he doesn’t return Elizabeth. When she protests on basis of the Code, he responds that her return was not part of their bargain, she would need to be a pirate for the Code to apply, and ultimately, the Code is more of guidelines rather than rules.

The men of Port Royal discover that Elizabeth has been taken come morning. Will wants to rush right out, willing to even ask Jack Sparrow for help. On his own, he visits the pirate in jail. He offers to free the other man in exchange for help rescuing Elizabeth. Jack agrees only once he knows Will’s surname of ‘Turner.’ The pair sneaks aboard the Dauntless and when the Interceptor (the faster of the two ships) comes alongside so the British can board, they sneak over to that ship and sail away. Norrington pursues, willing to sink his own ship rather than have it in the hands of a pirate. Once safely away, Will asks Jack about his father; Jack had known that he was named for him. Aye, Jack knew William Turner, one of the few who knew him by that name, “everyone else just called him ‘Bootstrap’ or ‘Bootstrap Bill’.” Will’s father was a pirate, not the merchant sailor Will was meant to believe. Jack lets Will “hang around” with that information for a minute. The lad can either sail with a pirate or not, it’s his choice. Will agrees and they head for Tortuga.

The island draws inspiration from the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Jack is greeted by two women, both of whom slap him. He may have not deserved the first, but he probably deserved the second. They wake Mr. Gibbs and Jack buys the man a drink while he listens to a proposition. Jack is going after the Pearl; he has leverage now to convince Barbossa; Bootstrap Bill’s only child.

Aboard the Pearl, Barbossa hosts Elizabeth for dinner (it was either she dine with him in a dress he had onboard, or she dined with the crew, naked). When the captain encourages her to eat, Elizabeth fears the food may be poisoned. Barbossa admits they have no need to be killing her, yet. He tells her the tale of the gold coin she was wearing, cursed Aztec gold presented to Cortez to stop the bloodshed. Anyone who possesses one of the 882 pieces will be punished for eternity. The crew didn’t believe the curse and found the chest and spent it. Afterwards they came to realize that they are not living, so they cannot die, but neither are they dead. Moonlight reveals them for what they truly are, skeletal figures. Elizabeth is once again daring and brave and stabs Barbossa. Only it doesn’t affect him. They must reclaim all 882 pieces of gold, the last of which is the pendant, and repay the blood sacrifice. “You best start believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner. You’re in one.”

Jack is gleeful during a storm, they’re catching up to the Pearl. Will receives a few answers about Jack from Mr. Gibbs. He had originally been the captain of the Black Pearl, Barbossa had been his second mate. They’d gone after Cortez’s gold and Barbossa weaseled the location out of Jack. He led a mutiny and marooned Jack. The man apparently got off the island by wrangling a couple of sea turtles. The story ends there; it’s time for Will and Jack to go ashore. If the worst should happen, Gibbs and the crew are to hold to the Code: those who fall behind, get left behind. When Will comments there’s no honor amongst thieves, Jack points out, that although Will has a poor opinion on pirates, he’s well on his way to becoming one: he stole a ship from the Navy, sailed with a pirate crew, and is completely obsessed with treasure. “Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.” They’ve found Barbossa and his crew, Elizabeth standing behind a chest. Jack instructs Will to stay put and don’t do anything stupid; they’re to wait for the opportune moment. Will does not trust Jack, so he knocks the pirate out and swims around.

Barbossa throws the coin into the chest and slices Elizabeth’s hand, letting droplets of blood fall on the pile. The crew doesn’t feel any different, so Barbossa shoots one. He’s not dead. The blood didn’t work. Barbossa turns on Elizabeth, demanding who is her father, was he William Turner. No. Barbossa backhands her and she falls down the pile of treasure. Will finds her and they escape, grabbing the medallion back. The crew starts turning on Barbossa, but he keeps order and sends them back after Elizabeth. They run into Jack, who mutters “parlay.” The two captains confer; Jack knows why Elizabeth’s blood didn’t work, and he knows whose blood Barbossa needs. He tries to wrangle a deal with Barbossa to get the Pearl back, but they’ve come up on the Interceptor.

interceptor vs pearl

Will wants to know why Elizabeth used his surname with the pirates; she doesn’t give an answer. In regards to why she took the medallion eight years ago, she didn’t want Will to be a pirate. Will continues to struggle with the knowledge that pirate blood runs in him. He’s above deck with the Pearl comes in sight. He suggests lightening the load so it gives them more speed. It works, for a little while, but the Pearl runs out the sweeps on the cannons for added speed. Elizabeth suggests the idea to drop the anchor on one side, demonstrating her knowledge of sailing as well; they’ll swing around and be able to broadside the Pearl. Barbossa also turns his ship, so both now have canons facing each other; the Interceptor loads theirs with whatever they can find. Explosions abound, pirates swinging on ropes, boarding the Interceptor; it’s all rather exciting! Will and Elizabeth realize the other crew is still after the medallion; Will goes for it. But a shot from the Pearl brings down the Interceptor’s mast and damages the hold below. The ship is taking on water. Jack escapes the cell on the Pearl and swings over to the Interceptor, helping Elizabeth against a pirate. But she’s taken, as is the medallion by Barbossa’s monkey (named Jack). The Interceptor‘s crew is taken hostage and the ship is left to explode. Elizabeth fears (and we do for a moment) that Will was killed in the explosion, but he managed to swim out in time.

He boards the Pearl and demands Elizabeth’s release. He is William Turner, son of ‘Bootstrap’ Bill Turner (the spittin’ image of ol’ Bootstrap, sent back to haunt them) and if Elizabeth does not go free, he’ll use Jack’s one shot pistol and be lost to the depths. Barbossa agrees, but Will failed to mention how Elizabeth was to be set free. She and Jack are forced on a gangplank and will be marooned on the same island Jack was on last time. When Elizabeth asks Jack if they can escape the same way he did last, he reveals that contrary to the popular myth of sea turtles, he actually had spent three days waiting for the rum runners who used the island as a cache and was able to barter passage. Elizabeth has the start of an idea. First, they light a bonfire and sing A Pirate’s Life for Me, getting Jack nice and drunk. When he wakes in the morning, it’s to the smell of smoke.

“You’ve burnt all the food, the shade, the rum.”

“Yes, the rum is gone.”

“Why is the rum gone?”

“One, because it is a vile drink that turns even the most respectable men into complete scoundrels. Two, that signal is over a thousand feet high; the entire royal navy is out looking for me. Do you really think there is even the slightest chance that they won’t see it?”

“But why is the rum gone?”

(There is a hilarious remix video that was made featuring this bit)

The Dauntless indeed finds Elizabeth. She pleads with her father and Norrington to go back and rescue Will; he turned to piracy to rescue her. Her final plea to Norrington is for him to do it as a wedding present. She’ll accept his proposal if he rescues Will. On board the Pearl, Will asks that crew for more information regarding his father. Old Bootstrap never agreed with how they turned on Jack; he sent his coin off to Will, saying the crew deserved to be cursed. So Barbossa tied a canon to his bootstraps and threw him in the ocean. Ironically, it was after that incident that they realized they needed his blood to lift the curse. Now it’s Will’s turn to spill blood; but he’s only half Turner, they plan to spill it all.

Jack’s plan is to go in, convince the pirates to come out, so the Dauntless crew can capture (or kill) them, rescue Will, and Norrington will be a hero. The flip side, when he sneaks in and talks to Barbossa, is for the pirates to attack, overtake the British and now Barbossa will have two ships, the start of his own fleet. Jack will take the Pearl, sail under Barbossa’s command and give the other captain a percentage of his plunder. And in exchange, Barbossa presumes, Jack wants him to not kill the whelp, Will. “No, by all means,” Jack scoops up a handful of coins, “kill the whelp,” but wait until every last of Norrington’s men are dead. Will sees Jack palm one of the coins and realizes that this was Jack’s plan all along. Barbossa agrees, but sends his men on a walk…underwater. They sneak aboard the Dauntless and start slaughtering [reminder, it is rated PG-13].

In the meantime, Elizabeth has snuck off the Dauntless and back to the Pearl to rescue that crew with the hopes that they’ll help her rescue Will. They’d rather stick to the Code and retreat, so she heads into the cave alone. Jack has managed to get a sword to Will, because “honestly, it’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly stupid.” Jack goes after Barbossa, and Will gets free and goes after the other pirates. Elizabeth arrives to snark “if you like pain, try wearing a corset” and help Will. At one point (in the completely epic fight sequence that again matches the rhythm of the soundtrack) Jack stabs Barbossa. Tsk, tsk, Barbossa can’t die, remember. So he stabs Jack. The other captain chokes for a moment, then backs up into the moonlight and reveals he too is a skeleton. By holding on to one of the coins, he now can’t die either. The old rivals are back at it. Will reads when the opportune moment is and heads for the chest; Jack throws his coin, with a bit of his blood on it. When Barbossa pulls a pistol on Elizabeth, a shot rings out. From Jack’s gun. Barbossa thinks he’s lucky for a second, then Will drops the gold into the chest. The wound is now mortal. He falls down, dead.

Norrington has made it back to the Dauntless and with the curse lifted, Barbossa’s crew is no longer immune. The ship is back in the hands of the British (I have no idea why Governor Swann tries to be cool and mimics punching a pirate). Inside the cave, Will and Elizabeth almost share a tender moment, but they’re interrupted by Jack’s noise. They must be getting back to the Dauntless, and Elizabeth’s fiancé. Will missed his opportune moment.

Back at Port Royal, Norrington prepares to hang Jack. Elizabeth feels it is wrong, but her father states that Norrington is bound by law. Will, in some fancy new clothes, realizes what he must do, as a good man (and some urging from seeing Cotton’s parrot). He announces to Elizabeth, Governor Swann, and Norrington, that he has always loved Elizabeth. Then he makes his way to the scaffold. Elizabeth faints again as a distraction and Will manages to throw his sword to relieve Jack’s hanging. The two fight alongside each other for a minute (there is an awesome flip from Orlando, or his stunt double), but are soon surrounded. He’d rather throw his lot in with Jack and be a good man; his place is between Norrington and Jack. Elizabeth joins him. Jack uses the distraction to say his farewells: he was always rooting for Norrington, things would have never worked out between him and Elizabeth and Will…nice hat. This is the day they almost caught…and he trips over the edge. The Pearl is waiting for him (they decided the Code was more of a guideline). Governor Swann philosophically states that “on the rare occasion, pursuing the right course demands an act of piracy. Piracy, itself, can be the right course.” Norrington decides to let Jack go; they can afford to give him one day’s head start. To Will, “I would expect the man who made (such a beautiful sword) to show the same care elizabeth and will kissand devotion in every aspect of his life.” Essentially giving the new couple his blessing, and a warning; you hurt Elizabeth, I’ll kill you. Governor Swann is still a bit surprised at his daughter’s choice; after all, Will Turner is a blacksmith. “No, he’s a pirate.” She removes his hat and they share one of the best kisses ever! Music swelling, and I am swooning.

(There is an scene at the end of the credits, of the monkey sneaking back into the cave, stealing a coin, and turning back into a skeleton. He’s creepy.)

As I mentioned previously, this movie came out when I was in high school; it was a summer blockbuster that was fun and exciting. At that point, I wasn’t into Lord of the Rings quite yet, so I preferred Orlando Bloom in this role; the young, handsome hero who has a good soul and gets the girl. A story of how piracy could be cool; there’s two sides, Barbossa who wants to kill the innocent protagonists and Jack and his crew who want to keep people safe. And I already like swashbuckling films, so I was captivated by the sword fights. The soundtrack soon became a favorite of mine, with its driving rhythm. I’ve actually played selections from it twice, once in concert band and once at District Orchestra. It has also become a great running playlist for me (I ran Cross Country for six years in school), setting a good pace with some breathing spots.

Will Turner is my favorite character (yes, partly influenced by Orlando Bloom’s attractiveness). But he’s the hard working, respectful man that many women, including me want. The knight who was hasten to rescue the fair maiden, braving any dangers. Though Elizabeth earns points by taking matters into her own hands as well; she doesn’t sit idly by, she actively tries to escape more than once. She is the one to talk to the pirates to get them to leave. She manages to persuade everyone to do the right thing. Jack – he’s got too many plans going on for me to fully trust him, but by the end, we can see his heart is in the right place.

We’ll continue to dive into some of the other themes and plot points in the following two movies. I will save fanfic and music recommendations for the end of the original trilogy; I’ve seen the fourth and fifth installments and I don’t like them, so, I will instead put my focus into other series.

Questions? Comments? Your opinion on swashbuckling films?

Next Time: Dead Man’s Chest

“To Act on What I Know is Right, No Matter the Consequences”

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

Based on a video game [which I was not aware of that fact when the movie first came out, since I don’t play video games], it was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who had produced the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (up next). Jake Gyllenhaal (probably most famous for Brokeback Mountain, and due to be in Spider-Man: Far From Home) leads as Prince Dastan. Gemma Arterton (the Bond girl in Quantum of Solace) is Princess Tamina. Ben Kingsley (quintessential British villain) is Nizam, and Alfred Molina (who voices Viggo, an antagonist in Dragons: Race to the Edge [I knew his voice sounded familiar!]) is Sheik Amar.

The film opens with a rising sun, script fading in and out, “It is said some lives are linked across time. Connected by an ancient calling hat echoes through the ages. Destiny.” The prologue is narrated, giving a brief background on the might of the Persian empire, it had once stretched from China to the Mediterranean. [Yes, this movie did make me interested in the Persian empire for a little bit] The empire was fierce in battle, wise in victory; where they conquered, order followed, ruled by the principals of loyalty and brotherhood. King Sharaman, older brother to Nizam, already had two sons, Tus and Garsiv. But Fate led him to a third son, who was not royal in blood and thus had no eye on the throne, to complete his family. One day in the market, a man went after a young child for some slight. The boy was rescued by another who then led the guards on a merry chase (this is why he reminds me of Aladdin a bit), demonstrating early parkour. He is finally caught and about to have his hand cut off when the king puts a stop to it. Young Dastan is adopted by the king.

Fifteen years later, the Persian army is advancing to Alamut, a holy city, supposedly guilty of treachery; selling weapons to Persia’s enemies. Tus, as Crown Prince is to make the final decision regarding an invasion. Garsiv is headstrong and eager for any fight. Dastan, once he’s pulled away from wrestling, advocates caution since it is a holy city. Nizam urges that something must be done. Tus agrees to let Garsiv’s cavalry lead. Dastan sneaks his band of men to the side gate. Lots of cool action later, and the gate is open, decreasing the number of lives that would have been lost from a full frontal assault.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME
Brotherly love is my favorite

In the city, Princess Tamina sends her priests and advisors away, ordering tunnels to be demolished and sending one guard out with a sacred object. Dastan ends up battling the guard and picks up the object, a dagger. Tus wishes to cement the Persian’s victory with a marriage to Tamina. At first, she refuses, but then she catches sight of the dagger on Dastan, and agrees, only if her people will be treated with mercy.

King Sharaman is displeased at the attack of the holy city and comes to Alamut. Tus passes off a prayer robe for Dastan to present their father as a gift. Dastan owes Tus a gift for taking first blood, but Nizam argues that the city and princess are Tus’s gift. Dastan also has to inform the king of Tus’s wish to marry Tamina. Sharaman quietly advises his youngest son on how to balance his brothers; the bond between brothers is the sword that defends their empire. A good man would have done as Dastan did, minimize losses. But a great man would have prevented the attack that he knew was wrong. Upon seeing Tamina, who’s got some spitfire and refuses to be kowtowed by barbaric Persians, Sharaman declares that Tus has enough wives; Dastan, the Lion of Persia, may take less risks if he had someone waiting for him. Tamina will be his first wife. Dastan wants a drink. But the prayer robe that Dastan presented his father with starts smoking. Garsiv and other members are quick to shout that Dastan is a murderer. Dastan’s friend, Bis (the first young boy from the market), tries to get Dastan out, but he’s cut down. Tamina takes charge next.

The couple escapes; Dastan theorizes that Tus conspired to kill the king, since he was the one to give Dastan the robe. Tamina attempts to seduce Dastan and he ends up pushing the jewel on the hilt of the dagger…and goes back in time a few moments, reliving the fight. Tamina is desperate to get the dagger back and does not want Dastan misusing it. Dastan deduces that the dagger was the true reason for the invasion of Alamut. But he will need help. They will need to go to Avarat, for his father’s funeral, and find a way to talk to Nizam. Their best chance of evading Garsiv and the army is through the Valley of the Slaves. Tamina attempts to con Dastan out of the dagger again, and does succeed in knocking him out at one point. He wakes up to Shiek Amar and a band of thieves, including an expert dagger-thrower from Sudan. Dastan works out a deal, they regain Tamina (and the dagger) and the stories about the Valley of the Slaves turn out to be a cover for…ostrich races; a way to hide taxes from the Persian Empire. Amar tries to capture Dastan in order to claim Tus’s reward, so the couple have to make a run for it again.

They make it to Avarat eventually, their attitudes towards each other softening a tiny bit along the way. But when Dastan speaks to his uncle, he notices that Nizam’s hands are burnt, like Sharaman was from the robe. He recalls his father’s favorite story, how Nizam saved Sharaman from a lion years ago. Dastan doesn’t have the dagger, Tamina must have taken it. Dastan realizes that Nizam is the one at fault and tries to escape. Except he runs into Garsiv. The brothers fight, Garsiv refusing to listen to Dastan. The younger brother manages to get away. Now he must get back to Alamut; there is more sand there, and to warn Tus.

Tamina finally tells Dastan the full story of the dagger; the gods were angered by mankind and sent a sandstorm to wipe out the world (connotations of the flood story shared by many ancient cultures), but a young girl pled for humanity. They made her guardian of the Sands of Time and the dagger. All priestesses subsequently have been guardian of the secret. Tamina wishes to return the dagger where it will be safe, and sacrificing her life, as is her duty. Nizam has a trick up his sleeve, a group of deadly Hasassins (early band of assassins, does seem based in some historical fact, but not my area of expertise). He sends them after Dastan and Tamina.

All groups (for Garsiv has continued his pursuit of Dastan) converge at the temple in the mountains. Garsiv is kill by a Hassassin and Tamina is knocked out and the dagger is taken. Dastan, Tamina, and their few allies race back to Alamut. Nizam is pleased to have possession of the dagger and has it guarded by a Hassassin. Amar’s knife throwing friend, Seso, goes against the Hassassin. The effort kills him, but he manages to get the dagger to Dastan. he sneaks in to see Tus, having to stab himself to prove his story to his older brother. Tus experiences the power of the dagger himself, but before he can truly help his brother, Nizam slits his throat (the movie is rated PG-13). Dastan escapes again and now they have to head to the sandglass under the city.

In the commotion, Dastan dispatches the leader of the Hassassins, and he and Tamina finally share a kiss. Nizam’s plan is to let sand flow through the dagger long enough to change his actions saving Sharaman from the lion. But if he does that, the sands will overtake the world again. Dastan fights Nizam for the dagger, Nizam pushes Tamina away. Dastan grabs her, but she knows that he can’t regain the dagger if he’s holding on to her, so she slips away. Dastan ultimately manages to regain control of the dagger; he’s swept away to the past…right after the invasion of Alamut. He stops the men before they can enter the palace, revealing Nizam’s treachery. Nizam tries to pass the whole thing off, claiming Dastan is crazy, but he ends up pulling a sword on his nephew. The first is knocked away, but when Nizam goes to stab Dastan in the back, Garsiv and Tus act to defend their brother.

Tus apologizes to Tamina, but still feels like a marriage alliance would be best for both kingdoms, and suggests Dastan as her husband. He is both conqueror and savior. Dastan returns the dagger to Tamina (only he remembers the alternate timeline) and the film closes with a setting sun and the same script.

I do like this movie, but mainly for the action. It is packed with action and the parkour elements are an exciting addition. Dastan is a good lead, we’re invested in his outcome. Tamina, while she has spunk and is certainly willing to fight for what she wants, is often the damsel in distress. Nizam is a wonderful villian, playing the long game, until his starts his monologuing at the end, “Enjoy the gutter, Dastan, that’s where you’ll stay in my time!” I like the camaraderie between the brothers at the start and the end of the movie, but they seemed too quick to believe the worst in Dastan at a time when he needed them most.

What really helps me enjoy the story are the fanfictions that flesh out the family dynamics – that’s what fanfiction is for, after all!

Recommendations:

Two Steps Forward, All the Way Back by Thoughts of a Shadow; explores the aftermath of the movie and Dastan’s relationship with his brothers

Heart of Electrum by Jenn-Mel; explores how Dastan originally fit into the dynamics of the palace

Remains also by Jenn-Mel; another tag to the movie and how Dastan deals with everything

Beyond Broken by Crittle247; another tag delving into how Dastan handles the aftermath of his adventure

So, good action movie, a fun watch, but if you like some drama, check out the fanfics!  As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Up Next: Pirates of the Caribbean

“Everybody Wants to Live Happily Ever After”

Enchanted

Disney’s parody of its own movies. I’m sure most people recognized a good portion of the cast. Leading lady is Amy Adams (Lois Lane in the new Superman movies) as Giselle. Leading man is Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy) as Robert Phillip. James Marsden (Cyclops in the first X-Men trilogy) is Prince Edwaard, Idina Menzel (pre-Frozen) is Nancy Tremaine [possibly an homage to Cinderella’s stepmother?], Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew from Harry Potter) is Nathanial, and Susan Sarandon (Hollywood legend) is Queen Narissa. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz returned to produce the music. Pointed out on the Disney wiki site, “several actresses who have played character in Disney films have cameos: Paige O’Hara (Belle), Jodi Benson (Ariel) was Robert’s secretary, Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas), and Julie Andrews was the narrator [that, I could recognize the voice].

The film starts by entering the castle in the Disney logo and we find a storybook like the first Disney movies featured. The book opens in traditional animation, in the fantasy land of Andalasia. The land is ruled by an evil queen who dreads the day her stepson, Prince Edward will ascend the throne, marry, and his bride will take her crown. Away in the forest, lives Giselle, who has been dreaming of a prince and true love’s kiss (akin to Snow White, complete with woodland creatures, and a talking chipmunk named Pip). Her singing attracts said prince, who too is waiting for his true love to complete his duet. Edward is currently hunting a troll with his *cough* faithful companion, Nathaniel. In his distraction, the troll escapes and wants to eat the fair maiden. Giselle is rescued by Edward and they vow to wed in the morning.

Giselle arrives at the castle the next morning in a humongous white dress, eager for herEnchanted Wedding Dress wedding. But she is waylaid by an old hag who wants to bestow a wedding wish. She pushes the maiden into the wishing well. The hag transforms into the queen and tells her stooge, Nathaniel, that she is sending Giselle to a world where there are no happy endings (similar to the premise of Once Upon a Time). The fall through the well transports Giselle to modern Times Square, in live action New York City. Giselle is terribly lost and confused. Help arrives in the form of Robert Phillip and his daughter, Morgan. He’s kind enough to take Giselle home with him, but on the condition that she calls for help. His resolve softens when Giselle falls asleep.

Come the next morning, Giselle decides to tidy the apartment and calls for her animal friends. Instead of bunnies and squirrels, she gets rats, bugs, and pigeons. They do a Happy Working Song (akin to Snow White and the bubbles in the bathroom are reminiscent of Cinderella). Afterwards, she takes a shower, which becomes a problem when Robert’s soon-to-be-fiancée, Nancy arrives and presumes that her boyfriend has been cheating on her. To a modern woman, that’s what it looks like. Giselle does not endear herself to Robert when she makes a new dress out of his curtains. He wants her gone, but he has to go to work.

Edward and Pip (the chipmunk had seen everything) venture through the well to rescue Giselle. Edward “slays” a bus, then runs off in search of his bride. Nathaniel pops through a bit later, on orders from the queen to prevent Edward from finding Giselle; he’s followed by Pip. When he does not have any luck, Queen Narissa sends him three poisoned apples (another homage to Snow White). She plays to the notion that once Edward and Giselle are out of the way, she and Nathaniel will have a chance. Adult viewers know that Narissa is simply using Nathaniel.

At Robert’s office, he argues with Giselle over the nature of love. He’s a divorce lawyer and finds Giselle’s simplistic view of love childish. This stems from Robert’s ex-wife leaving when his daughter was little. They take a walk in the park to prevent her from causing more problems. He points out that one cannot marry someone after one day of knowing them; dates are what’s done, giving the couple an opportunity to talk and get to know each other. Giselle still insists that love doesn’t have to be complicated. If Robert doesn’t tell Nancy how he feels, how does she know? This becomes a full dance and song number, gathering people from across the park. Per her instructions, a pair of doves take a bouquet to Nancy.

A commotion is made at dinner that evening and Giselle lands on the news; Edward has discovered television and now has a clue to Giselle’s whereabouts. He finds a lot of wrong doors in the apartment building while Giselle and Robert continue their argument. Giselle has never been angry before. In the morning, Edward knocks on the door. Giselle (in another new dress) does not immediately want to return to Andalasia; she wants to go on a date with Edward, giving themselves an opportunity to talk. In the meantime, Narissa declares she is coming to the real world to deal with Giselle herself. She rises out of the man hole and shoots lightning at the billboards.

Both couples ultimately attend an conveniently arranged costumed ball. Giselle and Morgan bond more during a fun shopping excursion. Giselle shows up in a modern gown compared to the traditional gowns the rest of the guests are in. And the ball has a convenient tradition to have the gentlemen dance with a lady they did not arrive with. Edward dances with Nancy while Robert dances with Giselle. Nancy sees the look that Giselle has and retrieves her boyfriend. They share a kiss and Edward starts to lead Giselle away. The hag reappears, with a final apple, promising to take away Giselle’s pain; it would be like it never happened. Giselle takes a bite and passes out. Robert and Edward rush to her rescue. Nathaniel exposes Queen Narissa. Edward takes his stepmother to task; she will be stripped of her crown. Giselle can only be waken with true love’s kiss. A kiss from Edward does not work. Nancy tells Robert to try. That’s the ticket.

evil stepmother

The other attendees think the whole thing is a show. It gets more dramatic when Narissa transforms into a dragon (akin to Sleeping Beauty). Robert protects Giselle and Narissa is fine with taking him hostage. Giselle rushes off (removing her shoes), taking Edward’s sword to face off against Narissa. Narissa is ultimately defeated.

Everyone gets a happy ending. Nathaniel and Pip both write books, Pip in Andalasia and Nathaniel in the real world. Edward and Nancy end up together, Edward taking Nancy to animated Andalasia. Robert and Giselle end up together, starting a clothing company and being utterly adorable as a family.

Overall, I find it to be a cute movie; it’s fun to combine traditional animation and live action, and the idea of an over-the-top princess in modern-day New York is also fun. At one point, while re-watching the movie, it reminded me of a typical Hallmark plotline; girl falls in love with one guy, but after spending time with another who seems the complete opposite, realizes that the second man is the right one. (Don’t get me wrong, Hallmark movies are fun to watch, but I can take them for only so long). The songs are cute, Morgan is adorable and I love her interaction with Giselle. Her dresses are pretty 🙂

It’s just, part of it is simple: the good guys are good, the bad guy is bad. There are a few grey characters. Pip is annoying when he talks and I don’t think he really learned anything from his time being quiet. Nathaniel was a wonderfully complex character, but there is an instant dislike because watching him, I see Wormtail. Robert and Giselle both grow, but Edward doesn’t. Nancy is sort of just there, and happily pairs up with Edward in the end…no build up to why she’d willingly run away from her current life to instantly get married to an animated prince.

Though, it is funny that Disney paid homage to many of its own clichés, and even mentioned it’s a poor idea to marry someone you’ve just met (again, Nancy does this, so I don’t think they learned their lesson).

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Next Time: Prince of Persia