Category Archives: pirates of the caribbean

The Lone Ranger 2013

The Lone Ranger ~ When the film was over I turned to The Bride and said that if Walt Disney was alive and found out his company had obtained the rights to make a Lone Ranger movie he would be so happy, and if he’d seen what his company had done with it – it would kill him.

I have a long association with the Lone Ranger, although I can’t remember where it began. I recall the cartoons of the 1960s by Format Films. The Ranger wasn’t quite a superhero, but the bizarre Ralph Bakshi meets “The Wild Wild West” style of these shorts mesmerized me. I also remember being introduced to the radio show at an early age, and seeing Clayton Moore in reruns of the 1950s series. And when I learned that he was related to the Green Hornet, to me, that just made the Lone Ranger even cooler.

In the superhero movie boom (a firecracker compared to recent decades) of the 1970s, they tried badly to put the masked man up on the big screen, but that ended horrifically with the mess known as The Legend of the Lone Ranger. That dud, along with the bad publicity of not allowing Clayton Moore to wear the mask in public, was enough to bury the character for years to come.

This 2013 movie production, starring Johnny Depp as a mentally ill, delusional Tonto, along with Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski, his behind the scenes pals from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, just seems like a bunch of guys got drunk, had money to burn, and decided to ‘play’ Lone Ranger. And the kid who had all the toys wanted to play Tonto as an idiot.

I’m sorry. I just can’t abide this rape and mutilation of beloved childhood characters. First, we are meant to sit through another longwinded origin story. Let’s get this straight, if an origin story can be told in two sentences or less – we don’t need to see it. Just say it, and get on with the movie’s story. This is one of my biggest pet peeves with superhero films. Stop wasting time with origin stories. Superman’s origin was told in seconds at the beginning of every episode of the George Reeves TV series. DC Comics of the 1970s featured a one paragraph origin of the title hero on the first page of every issue. Let’s go back to that.

I can’t understand the premise of making this movie honestly. Was the point to destroy a lot of trains and ruin childhood heroes? Poor Armie Hammer is given very little to do, hardly any of it heroic, as the title character. What he does do is kill, which is something the real Lone Ranger would never do. The writers made Butch Cavendish into a cannibal, and not subtly either. I personally thought this should have had an R rating, just for that.

The only thing worse than Butch’s cannibalism would be the way Johnny Depp chews up scenes and spits them out like steaming vomit. Taking his character cues from Kirby Sattler’s painting, “I Am Crow” rather than the character Tonto, Depp is unforgivable. From his halting stereotypical speech to the dead bird on his head, his Tonto is an absolute disgrace.

I hated this movie, and I hated even more that my childhood heroes were destroyed in the making of it. I will get through it. There are still the movies, TV series, cartoons, and especially the radio shows to preserve the legacy. I will survive this travesty, but will the Lone Ranger?

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ~ If you like Johnny Depp doing his dirtiest at doing a drunken gay Keith Richard as Captain Jack Sparrow – you will love this. I like this movie on its own, but as a sequel, or more accurately one part in a franchise series of movies, it doesn’t work.

If you look at the first Pirates flick, Captain Jack was almost the antagonist there with Kiera Knightley and Orlando Bloom in the hero roles. Jack Sparrow is an intriguing pitstop or obstacle they must overcome. His phenomenal popularity has shoved the character into the spotlight with the next two films and yes, here in the fourth. If you don’t know the history, he rolls into that role quite easily in Stranger Tides, but he shouldn’t, in my opinion.

That said, and previous Pirate films aside, this is a pretty good action flick. Be warned though, there are some rather disturbing imagery for the little ones. I was surprised at the genocidal treatment of mermaids in a movie by the company that gave us The Little Mermaid. Sorry, but that thought was never far from my mind while watching the movie. Worth seeing, but not fantastic, nor as good as the first Pirates of the Caribbean, but way better than the second and third.

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French Fry Diary 270: Animator’s Palate, Pirate Night

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice ~ I am not a Nicholas Cage fan, and usually the words “starring Nicholas Cage” translate for me as ‘skip this film.’ I liked him in Leaving Las Vegas of course, and Wild at Heart, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High where he barely spoke, and I am probably one of the few folks who will admit to liking him in Ghost Rider – but for the most part, I think he’s crap. He’s a one note, one joke actor who got lucky with one or two roles and has a talented family to help him along, nothing more.

All that said, I really enjoyed his latest flick The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It’s a different kind of Disney vehicle. Rather than build a film around a ride a la Pirates of Caribbean, this time Jerry Bruckheimer and company have constructed a movie around an animated short from 1940’s Fantasia, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” starring Mickey Mouse. What at first, like the ride idea, sounds ridiculous actually comes off rather well. And surprisingly, the sequence in the film that reenacts the cartoon is one of the weakest, and yet still holds up.

This is a pretty simple and clichéd fantasy story. Merlin vs. Morgan le Fay in ancient times continues today on the streets of New York City with their seconds-in-command and their apprentices. Nicholas Cage is Merlin’s apprentice, charged with finding the next Merlin, Jay Baruchel, who just wants to impress his potential girlfriend who he’s crushed on since he was a kid. The relationship between Cage and Baruchel is a warm lock, like quarreling brothers who really do care about each other.

Alfred Molina, who is becoming more and more chameleon-like in Gary Oldman fashion, brings the heat as the bad guy. Tony Kebbell does a hilarious take on a Criss Angel-type magician. The girlfriend, Teresa Palmer, is kind of bland, but the rest of the cast makes up for it. And there is far too little Monica Bellucci. The special effects are top tier, and the ending is a bit predictable if you’re paying attention.

This was a pleasant surprise, might be intense in some places for the kids, but definitely family fare. Also look for hidden Mickeys and other references to the original cartoon. Lots of fun, recommended.

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French Fry Diary 35: The Just Fries Phenomenon

Summer Three-Quels III

Fact – filming began before the script was finished. You know where under the rating they list things like ‘cartoon violence, some rough language, sexual content’? Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End should have had these words in there as well: “Filming began before script was finished.” Maybe add the word “Beware” just in case.

I love the first PotC flick, great adventure, great romance and great characters. Initially when I saw the second one I also loved it … until after I went back and watched the original afterwards. Number two was still a pretty good movie but lacked most of what its predecessor had. Mostly it lacked the romance, and that was sorely missed. There was also a good deal of unnecessary gross-out working against it with Davy Jones and his crew, and the overall dental hygiene of most of the pirates. Not that it wasn’t a great flick, it just paled in comparison to the original. It’s what I call the ID4 Effect, you don’t realize it’s a shitty movie until you’re leaving the theatre, cuz while you’re on the rollercoaster, it’s a lot of fun.

Number three, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, doesn’t even have the advantage of the ID4 Effect. You are well aware you are watching a shitty flick throughout most of the movie-watching experience. There are meaningless plot twists, plot twists that are obvious to even the most green movie-goer, special effects for no apparent reason, and most insulting of all – special effects that should be great, but you can’t even see!!!

The saddest part of all is that all three movies were written by the same folks. To me that only means one thing… that the good movie in the trilogy must have been a fluke. Avoid Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End at all costs. If you must know what happens, trust me they all live happily ever after, except the bad guys, they get what they deserve. Hmmm, at least they got that part right.