May 20, 2011

‘Pirates’ steals the show again…

Posted in Between Us column, Entertainment, Movies at 6:40 pm by dinaheng

Ahoy, ye mateys! A new tale of Captain Jack Sparrow is on the horizon with a cast of familiar and new characters that anyone looking for a good summertime popcorn movie is going to love.

 “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the fourth installment of the Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ “Pirates” franchise, set sail into theaters May 20 with Johnny Depp reprising his role as the crafty and humorous Captain Jack Sparrow. 

Joining him in the cast are Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa, Kevin R. McNally as Joshamee Gibbs, Penelope Cruz as the female pirate Angelica, and other newcomers to the franchise.

“I think these films have repopularized the pirate legends,” says Geoffrey Rush, who returns as the devious, self-serving Barbossa. “Before, it was Long John Silver and Peter Pan who kept the history of that period alive. Now that we’re so surrounded by social media, Tweeting and the like, the idea of being free on a boat in the sea, in your own world, is especially appealing.”

Rush, whose portrayal of speech therapist Lionel Logue in “The King’s Speech” helped to propel that film to win this year’s Oscar for Best Picture, relishes the challenge of continually playing disparate characters.

“One aspect of the profession that I enjoy the most is finding diversity in the parts,” says Rush, a multi-award winning Australian actor whose credits include “Shakespeare in Love,” “Quills” and  “Finding Nemo.” “The rulebook is different with different genres to play a character, and keeps you on your toes a bit.

“It’s not often that you get to play a character over a number of films. I like that Barbossa has been able to morph and keep evolving.”

In “On Stranger Tides,” the captain who put together the meeting of the nine pirate lords in the last “Pirates” film has betrayed the pirate brethren and gone to work for King George as a pirateer.

“He’s getting older, is disabled, and looking for a good retirement package, but as always, has his own agenda,” Rush notes. “Barbossa has a fluid control of the English language as a way of controlling people. ‘Being spat out of the mouth of hell ‘ is a vivid image for him.

“In reality, he operates on a level of fear, connivance and deception. He breaks the rules for self-serving purposes, but is smart enough to charm people into thinking they’re special to him.”

Rush says working on a Jerry Bruckheimer film means having the luxury of resources to tell the story.

“These are heavily crewed, big budget films,” Rush says. “There’s been an evolution with the release of the summer movies that’s created heavy competition. Jerry always tries to keep ahead of the game on a creative level, not just on an executive one.

“With the four chapters of this pirate story, he’s done a courageous thing — exploring new characters and cultures, tackling the mythological aspects of sea monsters and sea gods — and not just making it a swashbuckling storyline.”

Bruckheimer, one of Hollywood’s most successful movie and television producers, says every good film starts with a good script. While the first three “Pirates” films brought in more than $2.6 billion at the worldwide box office, the producer says it was time to take the franchise in a new direction.

“We ended our trilogy and wrapped up those characters (played by Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley),” says Bruckheimer, whose films have run the gamut from “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Crimson Tide” to “The Rock” and “National Treasure.” “We wanted to give the audience something fresh and new. I like stories that are intriguing, that surprise you, and that move you emotionally.”

The list of credits at the end of “On Stranger Tides” seem to go on forever, telling the tale of how many people it took to bring this film to the screen. The movie, which was filmed on the Hawaiian islands of Kauai and Oahu, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, and London, has more than 1,100 visual effects that bring the pirate world to life.

Bruckheimer, who usually has 40 films in development at any given time, says, “You’re lucky if you have two made a year. Some scripts come to the forefront and the studios get excited about them.”

As fans might expect, Bruckheimer’s company is already working on a fifth “Pirates” script. Spoiler alert — If you sit through that long credit roll at the end of the film, you just might see…

But in the meantime, this installment of “Pirates” is a fun swashbuckling ride that’ll make you forget anything outside the theater you’re sitting in. After all, what’s a good popcorn movie for?

Land ho, me hearty!

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