by Henry Farrell on July 13, 2003

I went to see _Pirates of the Caribbean_ last night, and really can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s as much fun as movies can get. Johnny Depp is a revelation as Captain Jack Sparrow, moving like a fey, drunken “Keith Richards”: who hasn’t gotten his land-legs; Geoffrey Rush is nearly as good. The plot is hokum of course, something about cursed Aztec treasure and blood sacrifice, but you don’t notice while you’re watching; you just go along for the ride.

By coincidence I’m reading a really fun book which also features sinister Aztec relics, Alex Irvine’s _A Scattering of Jades_. “Selecting on the dependent variable”:, I’ve come to the conclusion that all forms of popular entertainment with Aztec treasures are _ipso facto_ good. _Jades_ is Irvine’s first novel, but it’s really very difficult to tell. He’s maybe a little too obviously influenced by Tim Powers, but that isn’t a bad influence to have – and _A Scattering of Jades_ stands up to comparison with Powers’ best work.* Closing the circle of reference, Powers has also written a pirates’n’zombies novel, _On Stranger Tides_, which reads in places like a more literary version of _POTC_. Somehow, somewhere, it all connects together …

* Imo Powers’ best novels are _The Anubis Gates_, Last Call and _Declare_, if yer interested.


1 07.14.03 at 1:02 am

Keith has always been a great hero to me and I felt that pirates of the 18th century were sort of rock and roll stars. Who better than Keith Richards to be your inspiration? Pepe LePew – I always liked him. LOL


pathos 07.14.03 at 2:14 am

I wasn’t following this post at all until I realized that I was thinking of Pirates of Penzance, which is something altogether different.


Allan Connery 07.14.03 at 2:35 am

“all forms of popular entertainment with Aztec treasures are ipso facto good.”

Yes. Further evidence is Donald Westlake’s novel Dancing Aztecs.


Henry 07.14.03 at 2:51 am

Not one that I’ve read, although I’m a big fan of both Westlake-as-Westlake and Westlake-as-Stark. Is it one of the Dortmunder books, or a stand-alone?


tew 07.14.03 at 3:55 am

The movie has some pacing problems, for sure, but my god, Depp is fantastic.

One of the things that I *really* liked about the movie was that the plot has the cursed pirates entirely obsessed with food. This reminded me of the late 90s changes to the theme park attraction, where animatronic pirates formerly chasing young girls now chase young girls with plates of food. These changes got a lot of press back then, a big PC brou-ha-ha. Every time Geoffrey Rush fondled an apple, I had a big grin on my face, thinking of this.


Jurjen 07.14.03 at 9:37 am

Scuttlebutt has it that Depp was heavily channeling Paul Whitehouse (notably the Ken “Suits you, sir!” persona from the Fast Show) in his role; anybody care to confirm or deny that assessment?


Bryant 07.14.03 at 2:53 pm

A counterexample: Clive Cussler’s Aztec Gold.


Allan Connery 07.14.03 at 6:05 pm

Dancing Aztecs is a stand-alone, written in Westlake’s persona, published in 1976. Still available in the used-book market, and very funny.


kenrufo 07.15.03 at 2:06 am

I couldn’t agree more – Pirates was utterly enjoyable. Depp is amazing as Sparrow, Orlando Bloom is becoming quite the charismatic hero. Plot was nothing new or surprising, but really, the film was what it was based upon – a really fun ride.

After the disaster that was T3 (last weekend’s viewing experience, a very miserable viewing experience), I had given up hope for a while. Nice to know Hollywood – and Disney – can still pleasantly surprise me.

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