“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

“You Can’t Take Me and Throw Me Away”

Treasure Planet

Adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island [another classic literature book that I have never read], it features a bit younger Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the leading role of Jim Hawkins, Tony Jay (previously Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame) as the Narrator at the beginning of the film, comedian Martin Short as the robot B.E.N, Emma Thompson (later to be Mrs. Potts in the live action Beauty and the Beast) as Captain Amelia, David Hyde Pierce as Doctor Delbert Doppler (well-known by most people as Dr. Niles Crane from Fraiser; I’ve never watched the show, but I recognize him from the commercials), and Laurie Metcalf as Sarah Hawkins (recently she has portrayed Sheldon Cooper’s mother in The Big Bang Theory). It is a rather cool idea, to set a pirate movie is space, though we’ve seen elements of it in other films (piracy exists in Star Wars), but the film brings a bit of warmth as the ships remain fashioned out of wood, rather than encased in metal as most sci-fi films. It is another Disney movie that combines CG and traditional animation.

I first saw this movie in theatres with my best friend when we got out of school early before break (a man joked that we were playing hooky). And upon re-watching, I remember thinking that Jim was a “cool” character, being a rough and tumble, slightly bad boy. Flying a hoverboard, to a teenager, is thrilling with just a hint of danger. His clothes played to that image as well, longer hair in the front, a ponytail and earring, oversized jacket and boots. And I also discovered that I kind of like the score to the film; there are a few Celtic elements that pique my interest, but the “adventure theme” is just what you want, the strings and brass passing off to build tension and combing for the triumphant arrival. There’s also a bit of electric guitar for Jim’s adventures, rebelling just a little from traditional orchestral scores. Still not enough to outrank Lord of the Rings, How to Train Your Dragon, or even some of my favorite Disney musicals.

The prologue opens with a space battle: notorious pirate Captain Flint looting another merchant ship, then disappearing without a trace. Legend states he hid all of his loot in one place, in the farthest reaches of the galaxy: Treasure Planet. Young Jim Hawkins is amazed by the stories and adorably informs his mother that Treasure Planet is real and we can just tell that he dreams of finding it. We’re next informed that twelve years have jim flyingpassed and witness Jim take off on a hoverboard of some sort, weaving about bits of machinery. He’s clearly ecstatic, until robotic cops catch up. He’s taken home to his mother’s inn, filled with a variety of odd creatures. Sarah Hawkins is overworked and we can tell times have been difficult and she’s not terribly pleased to have her teenage son brought home by cops, again. She had just been telling a family friend, Dr. Delbert Doppler, that Jim was turning around. The cops inform her, and Jim, that one more stunt will land him in juvenile detention. Then the stupid bots call him a loser. Sarah just doesn’t want to see Jim throw away his entire future; Jim’s retort is “what future?” We find out, from a conversation between Dr. Doppler and Sarah, that Jim is very bright, but he took his father leaving them as a boy very hard (as has been pointed out, that is rare for a Disney movie, for a parent to have left, instead of died).

Mean while, Jim is on the roof and watches a spaceship crash land. He rushes to help the hurt passenger. The old creature, a Billy Bones, mutters about a cyborg after his treasure. Jim helps him into the inn, where Bones collapses and dies, handing a wrapped object to Jim, breathing a final warning “beware the cyborg!” Another ship lands and Jim rushes his mother and Dr. Doppler out of the inn as pirates crash in. When they have a moment to turn back, the inn is in flames. They are able to recover at Dr. Doppler’s large home. Jim unwraps the object to reveal a sphere. Delbert cannot decipher its meaning, but Jim fiddles with it for a minute, finally revealing a map. That leads to Treasure Planet. Jim is instantly excited and tells his mother that all of their problems are solved. He admits that he has screwed up and let her down, “but this is my chance to make it up to you.” She refuses at first to let him go, but when she asks Delbert for help, she instead finds the professor eagerly packing. He will finance the expedition. Between the two men, Sarah gives in.

rls legacy

Delbert, for some odd reason, wears a clunky spacesuit to board the ship, the RLS Legacy (RLS for Robert Louis Stevenson). She’s captained by Captain Amelia and her trustworthy first-mate, Mr. Arrow (those of you who don’t know, ships are typically referred to as “she”). Neither of them trust the crew that Delbert hired and keep mum on the exact nature of their expedition. Jim is forced to hand over the map, to be kept locked in Captain Amelia’s stateroom and he will be the new cabin boy, under the watchful eye of Mr. Silver. Mr. Silver, the cook, is a cyborg, piquing Jim’s interest. He drops subtle hints, thinking that Silver is the one who attacked the inn (if you’re sharp-eyed, you’d recognize the shadowy figure). Silver puts him off, and we’re distracted for a moment by Morph, a very cute pink blob that can morph into anything. Silver dismisses Jim so the lad can watch the launch. A few quirks about ships in space; they require artificial gravity, and solar sails to catch light, instead of wind.

The crew is decidedly unfriendly, picking a fight with Jim, but Silver steps in. He finds out that Jim’s father wasn’t the teaching type; he was the leaving type (we see a flashback, featuring one of two songs from the soundtrack, I’m Still Here). So, Silver will watch over Jim, keeping him busy so as to not get into trouble. And Jim thrives under Silver’s attention and we’re treated to endearing moments like Silver covering a sleeping Jim with his large coat. Yet, Silver’s interest in the boy is not entirely out of charity; he’s leading the crew in a mutiny later and needs to keep Jim from finding out. The ship encounters a star going super nova, then falling into a black hole. Jim’s job is to secure the life lines. But one of the crew, a creepy spider called Scrupe, cuts Mr. Arrow’s line, then pins blame on Jim afterwards. Captain Amelia doesn’t seem to blame Jim personally, stating that they all know the risks of sailing. (Dr. Doppler was also helpful to Amelia in rescuing the ship, utilizing his knowledge of astrophysics.) But Jim is disheartened anyway. He mentions to Silver that for once, he thought he could do something right; he still screwed up. Silver consoles the lad that he has the “making of greatness,” he just needs to take the helm of his own life and chart his own course. And when Jim has the chance to really prove himself, Silver hopes he’ll be there, to catch some of the light. Jim falls into Silver and lets a few tears fall. Silver hugs the lad after a moment.

Trouble brews when the rest of the crew confronts Silver. He passes off his kindness to the boy, assuring them that the lad means nothing to him and he won’t let anything get in his way of finding Captain Flint’s “loot of a thousand worlds.” Unfortunately, Jim was playing with Morph and ended up in a barrel in the galley and heard everything. Silver finds him a few minutes later and discerns that Jim heard. Jim acts, stabbing Silver’s robotic leg with a knife (yeah, this Disney hero wields a knife, and later a gun), running to the Captain’s stateroom. He, Delbert, and Captain Amelia manage to escape the ship after Silver’s mutiny begins. Jim is charged by Captain Amelia to guard the map with his life, though Morph gets a hold of it. Jim has to jump out of their skiff to retrieve it and faces off with Silver for a moment. Silver has the lad in his sights, but can’t pull the trigger; he really has a soft spot for the boy. Amelia is hurt when they crash land the skiff onto Treasure Planet. Delbert looks after her as Jim scouts about (they’re a bit of an odd pairing, he being a humanoid canine creature, and she a humanoid feline creature; but they’re both smart and Amelia is sassy).

Jim feels like he’s being watched; indeed he is, by B.E.N: Bio Electronic Navigator, a chatty robot with a few screws loose. He is missing his memory bank, but manages to give Jim a few clues about the treasure. Jim also discovers that the map he grabbed, was Morph playing. He has to sneak back aboard and get the real map. B.E.N accompanies Jim and causes the teen a few problems, but does ultimately aid in Scrupe being lost to the galaxy. When they get back to their hideout, they find Silver waiting. Amelia and Delbert are captured and Jim gives in to Silver’s demand to save them; on one condition, he is the one to use the map. Considering Silver can’t work it, he has to agree. Jim goes along with the pirates, following the course the map lays out until they come to cliff. While the pirates argue, Jim works out B.E.N’s clue and opens a portal, revealing Flint’s secret for how he could attack ships and then vanish. The portal leads them to the treasure and while the pirates begin gathering the loot (and silently setting off an alarm), Jim makes for Flint’s old vessel. The skeletal captain is holding B.E.N’s memory chip, which is helpful so the robot can remember the booby trap. Flint didn’t want anyone getting a hold of his treasure, so the entire planet is rigged to blow. The countdown has started.

Silver’s crew is vaporized for the most part, but he catches Jim trying to get the ship flying again. Jim pulls a sword on his friend, but Silver lacks his typical smile, sternly informing Jim he’s come too far to let the boy stand in the way of his treasure. Tension is broken for a moment when a blast from the machinery knocks them off the ship. Silver tries to keep a hold of the ship and his treasure, but Morph informs him that Jim is about to fall. Silver continues to hold onto the ship and tries to reach for Jim, but he has to give up the treasure to save the boy. They somehow manage to make it back to the portal, where B.E.N is waiting with Amelia and Delbert aboard the Legacy. They being their final escape, but there’s not enough time, particularly when their main mizzenmast is damaged. Jim cobbles together a makeshift hoverboard with the idea to go back and change the portal’s location to get them out of there. And his plan works, until the makeshift parts start failing. He sinks closer to the explosion until he can jumpstart the engine and he’s racing back, hitting the button at the last possible moment. He high-fives Silver and whoops in delight.

Captain Amelia commends Jim’s unorthodox, but effective plan and tells him she will recommend him to the Interstellar Academy. Delbert congratulates him, and mutters jim and silver hugthey won’t tell his mother about the life-threatening bits of their adventure. Jim discovers Silver a few minutes later, attempting to steal the last skiff. He aids Silver, but turns down the man’s offer to go with him; following Silver’s earlier advice to chart his own course. Silver is proud of the lad, telling the lad he’s glowing; “you’ll rattle the stars,” he tearfully encourages. They share a last embrace and Silver tells Morph to keep an eye on Jim. One last token, Silver tosses Jim a handful of treasure, for his mother to rebuild her inn. The movie ends with the inn being rebuilt; Amelia and Delbert are married, with four children; the cops show up with Jim, showing off his new uniform. Bonus features reveal that Jim went on to become a captain. Where You Are closes out the film.

I personally feel like this a hidden gem of Disney’s. Like I’ve been experiencing with a few other movies lately, I’ve forgotten how well I like this movie. I was just the right age to really connect with Jim and his desire to prove himself. I think that’s a concept that still rings true today. I loved the bond that Silver and Jim created, with Silver becoming a father-type figure to Jim, helping guide him just when Jim needed it the most. He taught Jim to be proud of hard work and doing a job well and praised the teen when he did something special. I think Silver having a more gruff exterior helped facilitate Jim’s acceptance of him; he didn’t need another well-intentioned person in his life scolding him about his decisions. I enjoyed Captain Amelia’s banter and appreciated the fact that she was female, and the fact that no one batted an eye that she was female and a captain. So, for me, this ranks above Hunchback of Notre Dame; I love Hunchback‘s music, but I’d rather watch the story of Treasure Planet again. Still can’t top some of the other Renaissance hits (and that’s mainly due to nostalgia credit).

Who was your hero as a teenager? (We’ll go with fictional characters) What element did you most relate to? As always, open for further questions or comments.

Up Next: Winding down with a few of Disney’s most recent films, starting with Tangled

Geeks Are Adorable

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

A 2001 release, it was Disney’s first animated science fiction movie and has a different animation style than previous releases, relying more on CG, Atlantis was also inspired by the writings of Jules Verne [I have not read any of his works; my brother might have]. It features Michael J. Fox as the lead character, Milo Thatch; David Ogden Stiers returns briefly as the brusque, portly museum director, Harcourt; James Garner as Rourke; Cree Summer as Kida (while the name is unfamiliar, I recognize the voice as Valerie Gray in Danny Phantom and Max Gibson in Batman Beyond) and Leonard Nimoy is Kida’s father (yep, bit surprised myself).

The prologue takes place in ancient Atlantis and shows how the city was lost to the sea; the “why” not described, yet. Kida’s mother is called to the large crystal. Next, we’re introduced to Milo, practicing his presentation for a expedition involving Atlantis. It shows both how “nerdy” he is, but also how passionate. The board of directors at the museum are annoyed and purposefully change his appointment time so they can decline his request without meeting him; but they have no problem using him to repair their boiler, though it is certainly not part of his job description. Milo returns home to find a strange woman flouncing about his apartment. Miss Helga Sinclair represents a Mr. Preston Whitmore, who is interested in what Milo has to say. Turns out, Whitmore was best friends with Milo’s grandfather and wanted to find out if Milo had the same spirit and drive in order to settle a bet. He does. Perfect! He can use Mr. Whitmore’s assembled team; they’re already retrieved the Shepherd’s Journal, a tome that details the location of the lost city.

The team is comprised of Commander Rourke, Lieutenant Helga Sinclair; Molliére, or “Mole” considering he is their digging expert and slightly disturbing obsession with dirt;Audrey Ramirez, a young sassy mechanic; kindly Dr. Joshua Sweet; munitions expert “Vinny” Santorini; their cook is “Cookie,” whose food does not look edible; and communications officer Wilhelmina Packard. And the writers do a nice job of introducing and expanding the characters, so they become a whole cast of supporting characters that we want to learn more about. Their sub has a very 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea vibe (considering it is Verne’s’ inspired) and they begin their venture to Atlantis. This hidden city is guarded by a Leviathan, surrounded by a graveyard of ships from “every era”; Milo imagines that it would be a simple carving meant to only scare intruders. Nope. And not a full-blooded creature either; it’s actually a machine that still moves like a living creature. To me, the creators were delving into the steampunk vibe a little, which I am alright with. The main characters escape and continue their trek. We, the audience, catch brief glimpses of darting figures from time to time.

Milo is originally excluded and teased by the rest of the crew; being a nerd as many of us are, not the most socially adept. But he proves himself, fixing a boiler and working tirelessly. He’s eventually brought into the group and we discover most people’s backstory and a sense of camaraderie grows. Then, their camp is attacked by a sort of lightning bug, that lights the whole place on fire. In the ensuing chaos, after which Rourke calls “Sound off, who’s not dead?,” Milo is separated. We get a better look at the figures; people wearing large masks, one of whom removes her mask and heals Milo. The crew discover Milo and the figures run off. Milo gives chase, ultimately ending up in a lush underground cavern, a floating island surrounded by magma, in the center. They have come to Atlantis. The figures; Atlantians we know now, reappear and Milo is able to speak with them, actually, going through a variety of languages. Rourke announces that they are peaceful explorers and Kida, the leader takes them into Atlantis. (There is a small aside between Sinclair and Rourke hinting that crew may not be entirely peaceful). Milo is geeking out, which is adorable, Michael Fox brings a wonderful quality to Milo; eager and excited, but wicked smart.

milo thatch

When Kida brings the crew before the her father, the king; the king is not pleased. The outsiders threaten their way of life. Kida argues that their way of life is diminishing; these people may be able to help, may be able to unlock secrets f the past in order to save the future. The king orders the crew to leave; Rourke counters with one night. Rourke then volunteers Milo to speak with Kida so they may obtain their objective; some sort of power cell the Atlantians are rumored to possess. Kida takes Milo around the city and ultimately to an underwater cavern with writing n huge columns. The Atlantians are not able to read their written language, so they are excited to have Milo translate. But the couple are greeted with guns upon their arrival back at the entrance (Milo already knew that his friends were mainly in the hunt for the paycheck, but the betrayal still stings). Rourke reveals he had the missing page from the Journal about the mysterious crystal, the “heart of Atlantis” all along. Milo argues that the crystal is the Atlantians life force, it’s the only thing keeping them alive. He finally gives into the Rourke’s demand to help when the commander threatens Kida.

They burst into the throne room and Rourke demands the king’s help. He refuses and a hit from Rourke knocks him down. Doctor Sweet stays behind while Rourke figures out the puzzle of where the treasure chamber lies. He, Helga, Milo, and Kida venture down. A glowing crystal, surrounded by carved faces on stone hovers overhead. Kida is drawn to the crystal, telling Milo all will be fine, then she floats up and crystallizes. She descends and is taken hostage by Rourke. Milo guilts his friends into staying, but Rourke still leaves, blowing the bridge behind him. As the heart of Atlantis departs, the Atlantians crystals dim. Back in the throne room, the king dies from injuries from Rourke, but he passes on his crystal to Milo, explaining that “in times of danger, the crystal will choose a host, one of royal blood, to protect itself and its people (this is what happened to Kida’s mother in the prologue).” The crystal “thrives on the collective emotion of all who came before” and in return, provides power, longevity, and protection. He tried to use the crystal to expand their borders and create weapons. It grew to powerful to control, it overwhelmed them and led to their destruction. The king begs for Milo to return the crystal and save Kida. Milo accepts the challenge and rallies the Atlantians. He figured out how their flying fish machines operate and catches up to Rourke in the volcano cavern.

Proving that he does have a touch of crazy, Milo and Vinny act as a distraction so Sweet and Audrey can attempt to cut Kida loose. They have to abandon their efforts when Helga dumps a torpedo at them. Milo leaps onto the balloon, managing to make the balloon drop. Helga dumps the excess weight, but Rourke demonstrates that he will do absolutely anything to win, including throwing his lieutenant off a hot air balloon, twice. It’s “nothing personal,” he argues. Well, that comes to bite him when Helga manages to get a shot off, echoing his sentiment, blowing the balloon. Milo went after Rourke, their fight leading to the container holding Kida. An axe hit from Rourke cracks the window and Milo uses the glowing piece of glass to cut Rourke. He begins crystallizing and Milo thinks he’s free, but Rourke rises again. He’s tipped into the whirring propeller of the balloon…and no more Rourke. Milo shoves the container out of the way of the impending crash of the balloon. He risks his life further, jumping off a flying fish the ensure Kida arrives back at Atlantis after the crash triggers the volcano. They make it back to the city and once Kida is out of the container, she rises and triggers the guardian totems; the erect a bubble of protection as the lava covers it. They’re encased, for a moment, but the solidified magma cracks and Atlantis is safe.

Atlantis

Kida, no longer a crystal, descends into Milo’s arms. Later, the crew is preparing to depart, laden with golden treasure from Atlantis. They return to the surface as heroes, decked in fine clothes, sitting in Whitmore’s house, going over their story to the press. Rourke and Sinclair are declared “missing,” as is Milo, who elected to stay in Atlantis. He does pass along proof to Whitmore; an Atlantian crystal.

There was a sequel, with poor animation and a storyline of a few short adventures. I was not impressed. Actually, re-watching this movie, I’m reminded that I kind of liked it. I like the characters; Milo is adorable. I love a geeky hero [part of the reason I love TNT‘s Librarian series; can I have that job, please?] I actually liked Helga Sinclair as a badass woman. Kida is a good heroine as well, being more action-prone than Milo, but also kind. Of course I want to punch Rourke in the face because he’s a scumbag mercenary. And influenced by a post on pintrest (which I sadly cannot locate at the moment…I’ve got a lot of fandom posts, because that’s how I use pintrest), I can see the similarities between Atlantis and the original Stargate movie and TV series (and also now being familiar with that TV show a bit; you can thank my best friend). The “A”s are practically the same. I just accept it all as part of that type of story; with a geeky main character that gets involved in action. It’s even a bit like Indiana Jones in that respect. So yes, overall, I enjoyed the movie and would willingly watch it again.

 

Hopefully I will get back into the swing of posting, at the very least once a week. There are a few more Disney movies I want to cover (I really like a few of the newer ones; we’ll get there soon), then into some live action and some of my favorite categories and onwards. Once again, let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Up Next: Lilo and Stitch