Why the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Franchise Should Not Be Touched


By: Amanda Guarragi 

After nearly a decade, since Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was released in 2003, there has been confirmation from Disney that there will be, not one reboot, but TWO reboots, of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. One is a stand-alone film in the Pirates franchise and it is not considered a sequel, reboot or spin-off. Margot Robbie is set to star and Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson, is set to write the screenplay. The other film, is in fact, a spin-off, which was rumoured as a Disney+ series. It has a $100 million budget and is headed by Chernobyl creator, Craig Mazin and Ted Elliot (who wrote for the previous Pirate franchise), in order to take it in a fresh direction.

Here is the thing, Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most solid, live action, Disney adventure films, that they have in their library. The women in the franchise, have always elevated the story, especially Pirate King Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). The others that come to mind, are Anamaria (Zoe Saldana), Tia Dalma or Calypso (Naomie Harris), Angelica (Penélope Cruz) and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario). They have all made their mark on screen, there have been women at the forefront, in each of the Pirates films, so to make two spin-offs, that are female led, discredits the work these women put into their roles.

It is a franchise that cannot function without Captain Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann or Will Turner and I will stand by that. After having a marathon of the five films myself. I can honestly say, that whatever Disney attempts to do with these female led reboots, they will never come close to what they had almost 20 years ago. The way Disney makes their films now, is completely different than how they made them 20 years ago and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Their storytelling has changed and it seems that they cannot create a darker atmosphere for their films anymore. It is always light hearted fun and the characterizations are at surface value.

While watching The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), I felt an instant wave of nostalgia and I was surprised, that I watched this as a young child because the film is scary. It has this dark, eerie, ghost story feel to it, from the very beginning. Verbinski managed to hook you within the very first scene and make you want to learn all about Pirate mythology. The story is pretty haunting for a young child to watch, as the curse makes Pirates, who are aboard the Black Pearl, change into skeletons when there is a full moon. The special effects were so well done, it still blows my mind to this day, that everything was smoothly rendered. It was not a film for young children, whatsoever, but it is still in the Disney library.

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Courtesy of Disney, (left) Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom 

Dead Man’s Chest (2006) is my favourite out of the entire saga. It takes all we have learned from the first instalment and amplified it by 100. The action sequences, side deals and manipulation, made a great impression on so many people. The CGI for Davy Jones was exceptional and Bill Nighy gave a solid performance. Jones and his whole crew, were horrific sea creatures and it was so well done. Each movement that was rendered, felt so lifelike and authentic, that it still gives me nightmares. The battles between ships were also elevated and the design for ‘The Flying Dutchman’ was perfect. Not only was this a perfect sequel, but it had one of the best cliffhangers of the decade.

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Courtesy of Disney, (left) David Bailie, Mackenzie Crook, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley

It bumped the stakes going into the third instalment At World’s End (2007) and kept us waiting for an entire year. The score is probably Hans Zimmer’s best Pirate score to date because of the heart thumping undertones, that he used throughout for Davy Jones’ theme. It was really effective and it did not overpower the classic Pirates theme. Heading into the third one, Captain Jack Sparrow is in the depths of Davy Jones’ locker. While Will, Elizabeth and the rest of the crew head to Tia Dalma’s, to find out Commodore Barbossa is still alive. Everyone wants to save Jack and bring him back, but they need to travel to the ends of the world to go save him.

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Courtesy of Disney, (left) Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley, Johnny Depp 

At World’s End is such an exciting final instalment to the trilogy because it explores all the Pirate Lords, who hold one of the nine pieces. The Pirate mythology is so well thought out and presented in Singapore. Everyone is pretty much a Pirate in this film, including former Commodore James Norrington. Lord Cutler Beckett also became a fantastic villain with the East India Trading Company because he wanted to abolish piracy forever. We are also introduced to the Brethren Court in Singapore with Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun Fat), who is the Pirate Lord of the South China Sea. There were so many big players and moving pieces in this, which made for one of the most exhilarating third acts for a third instalment.

Gore Verbinski’s trilogy was so well written because they had a clear plan from the start. You could see the foreshadowing and where the story was going to go after each film. That is how you set up a trilogy. There was always anticipation for the next film because of how invested you became in these characters. The most impressive character arc, in this whole trilogy is Elizabeth Swann’s, she broke free from her role as Governor’s daughter, learned how to deal with pirates and the high seas, leading her to eventually become a Pirate Lord! Talk about amazing character development. If you really look at this trilogy, the focus may have been on Captain Jack Sparrow, but the underdog in all this, that truly stole the spotlight was Elizabeth Swann because you do grow to love her.

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Courtesy of Disney, (front) Keira Knightley 

The trilogy is perfect on it’s own. So when Disney pressed for a fourth instalment with On Stranger Tides (2011), nearly five years later, directed by Rob Marshall, it felt like it was an afterthought. At the end of the third one, they did allude to the fountain of youth and that Captain Jack wanted to travel there. They did leave it open ended but the only flaw in this film, was that Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann did not return with Jack. Instead we are introduced to Angelica (Penélope Cruz), who felt like a mirror of Jack, which was very fun to play with. It was also a Blow (2001) reunion for Cruz and Depp.

Courtesy of Disney, (left) Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz

In this journey, Captain Jack Sparrow loses his first mate Gibbs and has a run in with King George the Second, who insists that he should guide him on an expedition to the fountain of youth. We then see that Commodore Barbossa has joined the British navy and will join Jack. His old flame Angelica, has been impersonating him this whole time and Jack finds out that she is the daughter, of the infamous Captain Blackbeard (Ian McShane) who uses voodoo magic and wields the ‘Mythical Sword of Triton’ to control his ship, the ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’.

It was a fun movie and they did want to see, if they could make a side journey, without Will and Elizabeth but it just seemed empty without them. It is always great to explore different characters like Syrena (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), who was the first mermaid that we had seen in the franchise and to see various Pirates from mythology. It wasn’t the strongest Pirates film but we did get to know Jack a bit more, even though the writing for him in this one was weaker than the previous instalments.

The final and fifth instalment in the Pirates trilogy, was Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017), directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, which takes place six years after the fourth film. Will and Elizabeth return to save the franchise. It is now thirteen years after At World’s End and their son, Henry Turner is now aboard ‘The Flying Dutchman’ with his father. Apparently he knows of a way, to break the curse, that binds his father to the ship and needs to seek out Captain Jack Sparrow for help. In order to help his father, he needs the ‘Trident of Poseidon’ and ventures to ‘The Devil’s Triangle’.

Courtesy of Disney, (left) Kaya Scodelario, Johnny Depp and Brenton Thwaites

All the big players come back and we are introduced to yet, another Pirate, Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem), who is the undead Captain of the ‘Silent Mary’. Henry somehow joins the British Navy, in order to find the Devil’s Triangle and runs into Salazar. He then has a message for Jack Sparrow, that he is, in fact, going after him. Carina is on trial for being a witch, but is simply a young astronomer and horologist, who makes a quick escape and runs into Jack. It is a bit convoluted but the one thing the Pirates franchise does well, is develop their characters enough to make you like them.

Loose ends are definitely tied up, as the Turner family is reunited, Barbossa finds his long lost daughter and Jack is reunited with his crew, his ship and his love for adventure on the high seas. It was possibly the only way to end this franchise on a high note, while still leaving a little bit of mystery in the post credit scene, with the connection that Davy Jones and Will Turner share.

Courtesy of Disney, (left) Orlando Bloom and Lewis McGowan

The Pirates franchise as a whole, is a fantastic adventure franchise, when you see how they handle their characters. The original trilogy is done so well, that it definitely can make you forget the final two instalments. It is such a great franchise and I think a reboot, spin-off or even a sequel is not the greatest idea because the momentum is gone. It will always be treasured and I think developing new, original, adventure films with women at the forefront is the better way to go. We all know that everyone will be comparing these reboots to its predecessor and that’s harmful for female led films.

Disney has changed drastically and has only been focusing on remaking the films they already have in their library. Yes, you can perceive it as making content for a new generation but I was raised on their older classics and I loved them just as much. Like many other films that shouldn’t be touched, this is one of them because I personally think it is too soon to flip this script and not have the original cast present because they are the ones that made it iconic. I highly recommend giving these films a rewatch because they do hold up years later.

Courtesy of Disney, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

Female Led ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ “Reboot” Moving Forward At Disney


BY: Amanda Guarragi 

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been a staple in the Disney library since Curse of the Black Pearl was released in 2003. Audiences were introduced to the fearless Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley), the blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and the drunken pirate himself, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) all three actors were at their peak and brought their characters to life. The franchise was financially successful at the box office, the five films in the saga have grossed over $4.5 billion at the worldwide box office.

The Pirates of the Caribbean films were nothing short of iconic. CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow gained Johnny Depp his first Oscar nomination in 2004, proving that he will forever be defined as that character. The love story between Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann is more than just Disney pirate lore, it’s a story that will be remembered by all forever because of how fun and adventurous their journey was. Orlando Bloom solidified his action adventure status with Pirates of the Caribbean and Keira Knightley truly outshined them all as Elizabeth Swann sailed towards her destiny as Pirate King.

These films ruled the high seas of the box office in the early 2000s and it’s one of Disney’s greatest franchises. So, here’s the question we’re all asking… “Why are you giving a beloved classic a reboot?” It doesn’t really make sense, since the last film Dead Men Tell No Tales fizzled with the storyline, even though it made $794.1 million at the box office. The original trilogy had a full story arc and they knew they story they wanted to tell. A Pirates of the Caribbean film without CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann or Will Turner is just not the same movie.

Earlier today it was reported by Disnsider that there would be a full on reboot with a female lead. Sources say that Karen Gillan is eyed to be the lead, but they are also looking for women of colour to be at the forefront in the film. According to Daniel Richtman, the story could possibly be centred around the Disney Parks attraction character, Redd, who is a meet-and-greet character. Jerry Bruckheimer is also set to return as producer on the project and Ted Elliot is as well to write the screenplay. The budget of the film, according to Disnsider, is $100 million and is being made for  theatrical release, instead of heading to Disney+ as a series.

Here’s the thing, Disney needs more original content involving a female lead that isn’t a princess. Their library is getting stale and making these reboots of their earlier films is just playing it safe at the box office. Instead of rebooting or remaking beloved classics that people grew up with, why not create an entirely new story with a female lead that could add to the Disney library? That’s the issue with reboots or remakes, there’s always going to be a predecessor that it will be compared to, even if it is a spinoff.

The time of CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow has come and gone. Everyone knows there’s no Pirates of the Caribbean franchise without him, and it’s extremely obvious that he won’t be involved in the reboot. So for the sake of clarifying what “reboot” actually means in this specific situation, it doesn’t actually mean a reboot, but a spin-off with an entirely new characters. I also don’t think a theatrical release would be beneficial to the pirate world, a series for this theme park character, would add some more family friendly content to the Disney+ streaming service.

Onward Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Onward the magical tale of two teenage elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) Lightfoot, who embark on a journey to see if there is any magic left in their city, all while spending one last day with their late father. Ian finds out he has magical powers (like his father) and uses his father’s staff and a magical stone, to bring half of him back for one day. Writer and director Dan Scanlon wanted to create a film based off of his own experiences with his brother and the loss of his father. It had the right heart but not the right execution. Even though the film centered around finding magic, it was severely lacking the Pixar magic we all know and love.

This was the first Pixar movie that I’ve been seriously disappointed in because of how dull they made Ian and Barley. Chris Pratt’s whimsical voice and Tom Holland’s nerdy babbling couldn’t save this empty journey. The sentiment was there, two brothers wanting to spend one magical day with their deceased father but the simple journey they went on had no payoff at the end of this film. The entire film Ian and Barley spent time with only HALF of their father, the bottom half. They couldn’t talk to their own father for the entire day, they only communicated through touch and morse code. Again, the sentimental value was there because Barley had spent a couple of years with their father but Ian never got to know him.

The animation was also unimaginative and lacked the Pixar touch. I keep saying Pixar because their rendering technology was far superior, before Disney even picked them up. It just didn’t feel like a Pixar film and I can’t explain why, it just didn’t, I can’t put my finger on it. You just know that you’re watching a Pixar film, instead of a Disney film, you can’t explain it, you just know. Pixar’s animation was so incredibly special when it began all those years ago, but now with Disney’s influence, I’m afraid the type of calibre films that we are used to from Pixar, will begin to fade away. I know that Disney bought Pixar in 2006 and they gave us such incredible films, but the more powerful Disney gets, I’m afraid that the creative licensing with the acquired subsidiaries will suffer greatly.

Onward tries to make a heartfelt film between two brothers. The little brother Ian, realizes that even though he grew up without a father, he still shared his life with a father figure and he finds that in his older brother Barley. The simple quest they were on, was way too simple and nothing really exciting happened. The magic was basic and lacked flare. Also, there was no connection to the father, who also had these powers. Ian and his father had a connection through magic, yet he never had an emotional moment with his father. There was a disconnect because there was no conversation being had between father and son.

As you watch this film and sit through the dry humour, you wonder if Ian and Barley will eventually get to see the top half of their father. The ending left a bitter taste in my mouth and I’m not one for spoilers, but it was infuriating to watch what happens to these brothers and their father. It could have been such a beautiful moment but it was ruined by a very strange moral choice based off of a new realization.

I wanted this to be better but the story lacked direction and meaning. Yes, it’s sentimental but when you throw it together and try to interfere those key emotional moments with humour that is so dense, it just ends up being a forgettable film. Other than a half magical man walking around, Onward was just another film on the slate with two actors that should have had more chemistry than they did.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Review

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was a wonderful sequel and Angelina Jolie was born to play this role. 

The beauty of this sequel, is that the writers believed in the story they wanted to tell and the execution was flawless. This is why telling stories from the villains point of view is important. The villain is always seen as the wrong one BUT there could be more evil people out there, than the villains we all know and love. There is a reason villains become villains and I think, as storytellers, it’s important for filmmakers to tackle that kind of narrative. In this case Maleficent was cast as a villain but the real evil was in the kingdom. 

They made Maleficent so powerful and the love she had for Aurora was heartwarming. No one else could have played this role so well and it’s because Angelina Jolie embodies the fierce queen that Maleficent is and she naturally gives off a maternal energy. This story was beautifully written and definitely pulled at the heartstrings. 

The film is about unity and loving your neighbour. It was beautiful to see all the Dark Feys, from all over the world showing their different powers and characteristics. The production design and the special effects were lovely and the woodland creatures from the Moors were so adorable. The visuals were stunning and I’m happy I was able to watch this in IMAX!