Jedis, Pirates, and Random Ten

Yesterday was the 30th Anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars. I realize it's kinda cheesy to admit to still liking the Star Wars movies, but I think if you asked most men my age, they'd tell you that the original trilogy had a profound impact on their childhoods, and that-- deep down-- they still have some fond memories of watching the movies, playing with the toys, bashing their little brothers' heads in with a stick during a "lightsaber duel." I'm not about to go to a convention or start writing fan fiction or anything like that, but I still kind of appreciate those movies. They make me nostalgic for a time when encounters with aliens seemed totally feasible, when "good guys" and "bad guys" were easy to distinguish, and when someone else combed my hair for me.

We went and saw the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie yesterday-- which tries so hard to be Star Wars, but doesn't seem to have had the same impact on America's 7-year-old boys. That's too bad-- Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Bill Nighy, and Keira Nightly are better actors than Harrison Ford, Mark Hammill, Carrie Fisher, and that guy inside R2-D2. But if you like the Star Wars movies, chances are you like the Pirates movies too. Also, Emily assures me that the movies are quite entertaining if you're madly in love with Johnny Depp.

I like Johnny Depp well enough, and I didn't think the movie was bad by any stretch. The acting's good, and the huge explosive special effects scenes are really exciting and well-done. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff between ships firing at each other and swashbucklers swinging from mast to mast is kind of... dull. And while I realized going into the movie that I was going to be seeing magical sea creatures and ghost pirates, there were times when some of the exposition coming out of the characters' mouths really strained credibility.

There was a scene in the third Lord of the Rings movie where the good guys are planning some type of attack or assault or something, but they realize they're hopelessly outmanned. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, one of the characters says something like, "Oh, did I neglect to mention that there are a bunch of ghost soldiers nearby who will help us?" Then they go and get the ghost soldiers, and go on to win the battle, and the whole situation is so poorly set-up and so obviously convenient for the heroes that it effectively pulled me out of the movie as I started thinking things like, "You know, if they'd referred to these ghost soliders in an earlier movie, or even hinted at their existence prior to the very moment the narrative needed them to exist, I wouldn't be rolling my eyes right now." Anyway. A lot of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie felt like that to me. Lots of convenient, lazy exposition in order to rescue our heroes from the dire circumstances the filmmakers invented for them.

The last hour or so is pretty bitchin', though. Lots of well-choreographed fighting and impressive, natural-looking CGI effects. It's not a bad way to spend an afternoon by any stretch.

Anyway, here's my Random Ten, which I didn't get around to doing yesterday:

Solomon Burke-- "Don't Give Up on Me"
Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean-- "Hips Don't Lie" (shut up-- it's good workout music)
Everclear-- "So Much for the Afterglow"
Prince-- "Soft and Wet"
O.A.R.-- "Love and Memories"
New Order-- "Bizarre Love Triangle"
Shane McGowan and Sinead O'Connor-- "Haunted"
Pete Yorn-- "Life on a Chain"
John Cale-- "Fear is a Man's Best Friend"
Bob Dylan-- "Like a Rolling Stone"

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