Release Date: May 3rd, 1985 Directed by: George Bowers Written by: Alan Wenkus, Gordon Mitchell, Ken Segall Music by: various Cast: Rob Morrow, Johnny Depp, Emily Longstreth, Toni Azito, Dody Goodman, Leslie Easterbrook, Hector Elizondo, Andrew “Dice” Clay, Karyn O’Bryan, Michael Bowen
Delphi III Productions, TriStar Pictures, 82 Minutes
“Oh, thank you, Baba Rama Nana!” – Shirley
Private Resort is the final film in the Private trilogy, which is comprised of three unrelated sex comedy films. It’s also my favorite of the three, just beating out Private School. However, I haven’t seen Private Lessons since the ’90s and should probably revisit it again for a review and to compare to the other two films.
This is a dumb, goofy, ’80s comedy with lots of raunchy sex jokes and random boob shots. So basically, this is something I loved as a kid back when this sort of stuff was still acceptable.
Sure, things like this were never considered “high art” but people generally enjoyed them because we enjoyed life back then and we also used our entertainment as a means of escape from the problems that come from reality. Everyone needs a break and comedy used to be a great medicine for negative emotions. Boobies are also a great medicine for that but you’re not supposed to admit stuff like that anymore.
Anyway, this stars Rob Morrow, who would go on to be the lead in Northern Exposure, and Johnny Depp, just after he was in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street and before he blew up from his role on the original 21 Jump Street.
The film also features Andrew Dice Clay in one of my favorite roles he’s played, Leslie Easterbrook, Hector Elizondo and a young Michael Bowen.
The story follows two young guys showing up at a beach resort in an effort to get laid. While chasing girls, they draw the ire of the hotel security manager, a jewel thief, a total dick that works at the resort and a buff womanizer.
It feels like half the movie is just zany, slapstick chase scenes throughout the resort’s grounds but I’m fine with that, as a lot of the gags are still funny and they still make me laugh. Granted, I don’t know how well any of this would play for modern audiences that didn’t grow up with these kind of movies.
Overall, this is mindless fun and if you’ve read enough of my other reviews, you know that’s something I’m a fan of.
Release Date: August 25th, 1999 (Spain premiere) Directed by: Roman Polanski Written by: John Brownjohn, Roman Polanski, Enrique Urbizu Based on:The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte Music by: Wojciech Kilar Cast: Johnny Depp, Lena Olin, Frank Langella, James Russo, Jack Taylor, Emmanuelle Seigner, Allen Garfield, Barbara Jefford
“There’s nothing more reliable than a man whose loyalty can be bought for hard cash.” – Boris Balkan
I don’t know what it is about this movie but I’ve probably watched it more times than anyone else I’ve ever met because it enchants me and grabs my attention. Something about it is cool, mesmerizing and weirdly soothing.
I also like that it blends supernatural, biblical horror with film-noir. Horror and noir were always a really good thing when paired up and a lot of those early RKO horror films that Val Lewton produced, showcased the blending of these genres exceptionally well.
This is directed by Roman Polanski, who made one of the greatest neo-noir movies of all-time with 1974’s Chinatown. Here, he takes some of that noir experience and adds it to a more contemporary film. And like Chinatown, this moves at a slow and steady pace but definitely not a boring one. The film is a slow burn all the way up to its finale, which I thought was pretty neat and satisfying.
The plot plays out like a game. You have a very rich publisher that hires a rare book dealer to track down the other copies of an extremely rare book that could very well be tied to the Devil. With that, he sets off on this adventure and crosses paths with a lot of mysterious people who have their own agendas, most of them being pretty sinister. The book dealer also gets assistance from a mysterious, unnamed girl, whose motivations are never clear. Later on, we also see that this girl has powers that make you wonder if she’s an angel or a fallen angel or even possibly a demon or some important biblical character.
There’s a Satanic cult, murder plots, twists, turns and serious curveballs that I didn’t see coming the first time I viewed this film. All the while, it does seem pretty clear that one of these people is pulling a lot of the strings.
The atmosphere of the film is one of the things that make this such a visually beautiful picture. While a lot of that has to do with the general cinematography, I think that the score by Wojciech Kilar is stellar and really gives this movie its life and energy while enhancing those visuals.
This is also one of my favorite roles that Johnny Depp has ever played and I thought that his fairly chill, almost understated performance was perfect for the tone of the story. I also thought that Frank Langella was magnificent and this is my favorite thing that he’s done besides Skeletor and Dracula.
The Ninth Gate was a movie that came out and seemed to be completely overlooked. Still, I know that most people haven’t seen it, over two decades later. It reminds me of the ’70s style of serious, religious horror. If that stuff is your thing, this should be right up your alley.
Release Date: December 6th, 1990 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Tim Burton Written by: Tim Burton, Caroline Thompson Music by: Danny Elfman Cast: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Robert Oliveri, Kathy Baker, Vincent Price, Alan Arkin, Conchata Ferrell, Caroline Aaron, Dick Anthony Williams, O-Lan Jones, Nick Carter (uncredited)
Twentieth Century Fox, 105 Minutes
“Hold me.” – Kim, “I can’t.” – Edward
This movie came out around my 12th birthday. But I didn’t get to see it in the theater because I was a kid that didn’t control his own life and it was also the holidays and back then, that meant lots of travel to see cheek-pinchers and older rotund family members that wanted to force feed me into a sugar coma. That’s not a snarky complaint, I actually miss those simpler times and those people, who have mostly passed on.
Anyway, I really wanted to see Edward Scissorhands but I didn’t get to check it out until it was available to rent at the video store. Once I did see it, I was blown away by it and even as a pre-teen, I remember thinking that Tim Burton had truly created something special and evolved really quickly as a filmmaker with this being just his fourth feature film after the previous year’s Batman, as well as Beetlejuice and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
As much as I had loved Burton’s previous work, especially Batman, it was this movie that really cemented him as my favorite director of this era behind Steven Spielberg.
This also cemented Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder as two of my favorite actors of the era, as both of them really transcend the screen and put in such beautiful and believable performances that it’s impossible to watch this film and not be emotionally effected.
Furthermore, this also features my favorite performance by Dianne Wiest, an actress I have loved for as long as I can remember. But in this, she really turns up the matriarch persona she is so well at playing. She’s so lovely, kind, has a tremendous heart and you find your own heart breaking, as she comes to realize that as much love as Edward deserves, maybe she made a grave mistake in trying to bring him into her world so quickly. And this realization is where the movie takes a turn and gets much deeper, much darker and much more meaningful.
At its core, this is a Grimms’-style fairytale set in the modern world. However, the modern world is presented in a way that’s sort of timeless. While it features things that were modern for 1990, the look of suburbia is done in a colorful 1950s style. This is one of the things I love most about the movie, as it takes the things that influenced Burton’s development and sort of blends them together. It gives the film a dreamlike, fantastical quality that couldn’t have been achieved had Burton just set this in a place that was blatantly contemporary for the year it was filmed in.
The film is also populated with so much talent and great performances from everyone involved like Alan Arkin, Robert Oliveri, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Conchata Ferrell, etc.
For me, though, seeing Vincent Price in this was truly special. He was a huge inspiration to Burton and myself, as well. This picture provided him with the perfect role to go out with honor and grace. And while he did a television movie after this, Edward Scissorhands was the legend’s true exit from film and his few moments in this were just beautiful and brilliant.
Edward Scissorhands is a close to perfect film. Sure, as I’m now older and hadn’t seen this in a long time, I do see some minor flaws, here and there. However, they’re not worth nitpicking over, as the film has held up tremendously well and the things it does perfectly far exceed the small things that might have been lacking.
Release Date: November 17th, 1999 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Tim Burton Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker, Kevin Yagher Based on:The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving Music by: Danny Elfman Cast: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Christopher Lee, Richard Griffiths, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gough, Marc Pickering, Christopher Walken, Ray Park, Lisa Marie, Peter Guinness, Martin Landau (uncredited)
Mandalay Pictures, American Zoetrope, Paramount Pictures, 105 Minutes
“Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.” – Ichabod Crane
This is one of my favorite Tim Burton movies and every time I watch it, it just makes me wish that he did more straight up fantasy horror films.
This is Burton’s take on the famous story by Washington Irving but it takes the Sleepy Hollow legend and makes it a lot darker and more badass than other adaptations. For many, the classic Disney animated version is probably the one they’re most familiar with. This Sleepy Hollow is very different.
I love that this is gothic horror at its core and you can see the influences of Hammer Films, as well as those Edgar Allan Poe movies with Vincent Price. In fact, Burton does more than homage Hammer, here, as he also includes some Hammer legends in the film: Michael Gough and Christopher Lee, to be specific.
This also features Ian McDiarmid and a visually obscured Ray Park, making it the only movie to feature Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and Darth Maul: Star Wars can’t even claim that.
Anyway, the film is led by Johnny Depp and I love him in this. He plays a sort of whimsical, awkward character and his version of Ichabod Crane shows early signs of what Depp would later create as his most famous character, Captain Jack Sparrow.
I love the humor in this movie and I don’t think that it would’ve worked quite the same way without Depp. Here we have a great investigator that has to get down and dirty… and often times bloody. The humorous bit is that he’s a germaphobe and winces every time he has to do something unsettling or gross. It’s a reoccurring gag throughout the film but it works every time and it isn’t overused.
Depp also has Christina Ricci to play off of and I always like when these two are together. I honestly wish that they worked together more often, as they have real chemistry and always tend to accentuate each other’s performance.
The rest of the cast is padded out with some immense talent between Christopher Walken, Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson, Martin Landau, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Lisa Marie and Casper Van Dien, who had just come off of the cult classic Starship Troopers.
I enjoy the look and tone of the film and my only real complaint about it is that it seems a bit too drawn out. The story is too complex and should have been refined and tweaked to bring the film down to around 90 minutes. It doesn’t really need more than that but at the same time it could’ve also used a bit more head chopping and action.
Apart from that, the only other negative is that the CGI looks cheesy in two parts but both of those moments happen really quick and it doesn’t wreck the film. I just found it a little bit jarring in those split seconds and it does pull you out of this period piece setting.
In the end, this is still pretty solid and it’s one of the highpoints of ’90s horror, as the decade came to a close and gave us a new millennium full of subpar, mostly shitty horror.
Rating: 8.5/10 Pairs well with: other gothic horror films around 2000, as well as other Tim Burton films with Johnny Depp.
From Filmento’s YouTube description: 2013 Disney summer blockbuster The Lone Ranger was directed by Gore Verbinski and starred Jack Sparrow himself Johnny Depp, and they clearly tried to recapture the success they found with Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, for some reason this time it didn’t work and The Lone Ranger ended up becoming the biggest box office bomb of all time, costing Mickey Mouse over 200 million dollars of lost cash. One of the biggest reasons for this is that they seemed to have forgotten the core qualities you need to keep in mind when making a massive blockbuster meant for all general audiences. In today’s Anatomy of a Failure, let’s see what those qualities are in order to see where The Lone Ranger went wrong. Here’s how to build a box office flop.
Also known as: P.O.T.C. 3 (promotional abbreviation), Pirates 3 (informal short title), Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (working title) Release Date: May 19th, 2007 (Anaheim premiere) Directed by: Gore Verbinski Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio Based on:Pirates of the Caribbean by Walt Disney, characters by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Stellan Skarsgård, Bill Nighy, Chow Yun-fat, Jonathan Pryce, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Naomie Harris, Tom Hollander, Keith Richards
Second Mate Productions, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Walt Disney Pictures, 169 Minutes, 128 Minutes (censored Chinese version)
“You will listen to me! Listen! The other ships will still be looking to us, to the Black Pearl, to lead, and what will they see? Frightened bilgerats aboard a derelict ship? No, no they will see free men and freedom! And what the enemy will see, they will see the flash of our cannons, and they will hear the ringing of our swords, and they will know what we can do! By the sweat of our brow and the strength of our backs and the courage in our hearts! Gentlemen, hoist the colors!” – Elizabeth Swan
One of the three films had to be the worst one of the original trilogy and well, this is it. Regardless of that fact, it’s still one hell of an adventure movie that hits the right notes and sends these characters off with a well-deserved bang.
Had this been the actual end, people would’ve had a much brighter and appreciative view of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. However, Disney’s gotta be Disney and they couldn’t leave well enough alone and stop while they were ahead.
Regardless of the films that followed, this was a close to prefect ending to the original three pictures and it brings everything full circle in a great way and finished the job of developing the main characters stupendously, making them some of the greatest characters in motion picture history, especially in regards to blockbuster cinema.
Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow is just as good as ever but the real treat of this movie is seeing the story of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan come to a close. Sure, they have a cameo years later, but this really ends their story, as I’m assuming the cameo won’t lead to anything now that Disney wants to do a female reboot of the franchise. *cough* Good luck with that, Disney.
I liked seeing how the characters of Will and Elizabeth evolved from children in the beginning of the first movie, to a solid, badass couple that essentially saved the oceanic world by the end of this picture. It’s especially great seeing how perfect Elizabeth evolved, as she leaves this chapter as an incredibly strong, independent woman that an entire armada saw as a real leader.
The original Pirates trilogy should be a primer on how to make a great female character that isn’t a cookie cutter Mary Sue. Maybe J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson should’ve watched these films before farting out the Disney Star Wars trilogy.
Anyway, this is the most over-the-top, insane Pirates movie of the lot but it all leads to an incredible final battle that sees the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman go to all out war while being sucked down into Calypso’s maelstrom a.k.a. a massive whirlpool.
I also really liked how they explored Bill Nighy’s Davy Jones even more, getting into his personal turmoil that shaped him into a monster and set him off on an extremely dark path. His story is handled with such great care, though, that it’s hard not to relate to him and his pain. But it’s also fantastic finally seeing him meet his end.
Additionally, I loved how this movie built up the already established mythos and expanded the Pirates universe pretty immensely. I didn’t necessarily dig every new thing they tried to do but it worked for this story and how it ended.
The thing that hits me the hardest in these films, however, is the story of James Norrington. What a fantastic and spectacular character arc! The guy goes through so much over the course of the three films, trying to do what he thinks is right, only to sacrifice himself, quite selflessly and courageously, for the woman he loves but knows he can never have. I fucking love that guy and he doesn’t get enough respect due to how he’s never really the biggest thing onscreen.
In the end, this is one solid movie (and trilogy) that is probably much better than it should have been. I have to tip my hat to Gore Verbinski’s superb direction, as well as just how great the actors were. I wish we could have more Pirates movies as good as the first three but that ship has most assuredly sailed.
Rating: 9.25/10 Pairs well with: the other Pirates of the Caribbean movies, especially the original trilogy.
Also known as: Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (working title), P.O.T.C. 2 (promotional abbreviation), Pirates 2 (informal short title) Release Date: June 24th, 2006 (Anaheim premiere) Directed by: Gore Verbinski Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio Based on:Pirates of the Caribbean by Walt Disney, characters by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Stellan Skarsgård, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Naomie Harris, Tom Hollander, Geoffrey Rush (uncredited)
Second Mate Productions, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Walt Disney Pictures, 151 Minutes
“There will come a time when you have a chance to do the right thing.” – Elizabeth Swan, “I love those moments. I like to wave at them as they pass by.” – Jack Sparrow
Man, this movie was so good and I found myself asking myself, “Why the hell don’t you fire up these movies more often, dummy?!”
While the first Pirates of the Caribbean flick is the best of the lot, this one is still a damn fine adventure movie with the right balance of swashbuckling, really cool lore and fun, complex characters that have immense chemistry with one another and superhuman levels of pure, unadulterated charisma.
The only real downside of this film is that Barbosa is only in it for about 5 seconds but if I’m being honest, you really don’t notice because everything before that ending cliffhanger is great.
The film picks up where the last one left off and we see Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan have their wedding day ruined by a government douchebag that wants to have them executed for helping Captain Jack Sparrow escape at the end of the first movie. This sets Will on a mission to find Jack Sparrow and to retrieve his magic compass for the shitty bureaucrat.
Pirates films can’t be that simple though, so we see our characters chase multiple MacGuffins for multiple reasons and we get a well-layered plot where everyone wants this film’s treasures for their own reasons. Jack wants to escape the curse of Davy Jones, Will wants to save Elizabeth and his father, Elizabeth wants to save Will, Norrington wants to redeem himself and Barbosa’s former stooges just want the treasure because they’re f’n pirates.
The film also introduces Bill Nighy as the physical embodiment of Davy Jones, one of the coolest onscreen villains in motion picture history, as well as the kaiju-like beast, The Kraken.
I’ve heard some people complain that the plot is too complex and hard to follow but I disagree. Each character is well-defined and their personal motivations are made pretty clear. And even though you feel you know them and understand them, there are still some surprises, twists, turns and double-crosses that only enrich the story and the series as a whole.
The film also has incredible special effects and it’s obvious that Disney didn’t waste a penny making this movie. Just the amount of time that had to go into Davy Jones and his crew must’ve been insane and a really painstaking process. But that hard work and time paid off, as the effects are near perfect and help to make this a more fantastical picture than the previous one.
This chapter in the series also brought in Hans Zimmer to score the music. While he uses the iconic themes of the previous movie, he builds off of them and provides his own brilliant original compositions that don’t betray the work done by the previous composer and in fact, enhances it.
There are so many stellar sequences in this film but the three-way sword fight between Jack, Will and Norrington is, hands down, one of the greatest swashbuckling moments in motion picture history.
Additionally, the whole cannibal island segment of the film was cinematic perfection. While it does get pretty slapstick-y, it doesn’t feel out of place or too hokey. I’ve said elsewhere that Depp’s Sparrow is his generation’s version of Chaplin’s The Tramp and that comparison seemed even more clear to me after revisiting this chapter.
Dead Man’s Chest is a great film. While it falls short of The Curse of the Black Pearl, it does so just barely. In fact, the only thing that really works against it is that it’s the first part of a two-parter and isn’t its own self-contained story.
Rating: 9.5/10 Pairs well with: the other Pirates of the Caribbean movies, especially the original trilogy.
Also known as: Pirates of the Caribbean (working title), P.O.T.C. (promotional abbreviation) Release Date: June 28th, 2003 (Disneyland premiere) Directed by: Gore Verbinski Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert Based on:Pirates of the Caribbean by Walt Disney Music by: Klaus Badelt Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Pryce, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Zoe Saldana
Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Walt Disney Pictures, 143 Minutes
“This is the day you will always remember as the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow!” – Jack Sparrow
I’ve wanted to revisit the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy for quite some time but as is apparent for those of you who read this site regularly, I watch a lot of stuff and usually cover film series in their entirety with one review per week scheduled in before moving on to another franchise. So since I had a lot on the docket before these pictures, it took some time to catch up and get reacquainted with them. Especially, since I’ve been working through all the major comic book movie film series.
I’ve also already reviewed the Pirates films after the original trilogy.
Revisiting this one was a lot of fun, though. I’ve always considered it the best film of the lot and I still think that’s true. It’s pretty much a perfect adventure movie that really hearkens back to the great swashbuckling films of yore, as well as the live-action blockbusters Disney made in the ’50s and ’60s.
This is highly energetic from start to finish without a dull moment or a wasted frame of film. And while the plot takes many twists and turns, this still feels less complicated than the other Pirates pictures. The objective of the film is made clear and this rich world is established and built up in a pretty effective way.
The film is well-balanced on every level between it’s world building, it’s character development, the adventure itself, the supernatural and fantastical elements, the comedic and jovial tone, as well as its big action sequences.
I generally enjoy Gore Verbinski’s directorial work but this is still his magnum opus. That doesn’t necessarily mean he peaked early, it just means that the guy has immense talent and he really made an exceptional film really early on in his career. Frankly, I’m surprised that he doesn’t actually direct films more often than he does.
Johnny Depp is the scene stealer in this picture but that should come as no surprise, considering how talented the guy has been from day one. Also, for younger fans, it may be hard to envision a world before Captain Jack Sparrow but seeing this character come to life back in 2003 was an incredible experience. Truthfully, no one else could have given us this Jack Sparrow and the character very much is Johnny Depp’s regardless of what was on paper before he took the role.
Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are also solid but my favorite person besides Depp is Geoffrey Rush. It’s like he was born to play a bastard of a pirate. His character, Hector Barbosa, is my favorite in the film series, as he has an incredible story arc despite his “death” in this picture. He grew to become just as important to these films as Depp’s Sparrow and he also became a more fleshed out, complex character with each new chapter in the film series.
Moving beyond the acting and directing, the film has incredible special effects that have aged pretty well, as we’re nearly twenty years into the future from when this was first released. God, that’ll make anyone feel old.
Out of all the movies in the series, this has the best story and it’s the best picture of the lot. It’s a movie that succeeded in what it set out to do and it’s perfect in every way.
I only wish it would’ve brought the swashbuckling genre back to prominence beyond just its own sequels.
Rating: 10/10 Pairs well with: the other Pirates of the Caribbean movies, especially the original trilogy.
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