24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Pirates of the Caribbean

Chat with 'Rango' director Gore Verbinski on Feb. 10

February 6, 2012 |  5:11 pm


“Rango” is an oddly philosophical tale of a little lizard, voiced by Johnny Depp, who finds himself wearing the sheriff's badge in a harsh outpost known as Dirt. The Gore Verbinski film is a mash-up of the classic western and a postmodern sensibility –- it’s far less cuddly or cookie-cutter than most animated features, which Verbinski says is by design.

So far, "Rango" has found success, whether at the box office or in awards season. The movie is nominated for an Oscar in the animated feature category, and it just picked up the top prize Saturday at the Annie Awards, presented by the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood.

Verbinski admits, though, that taking chances is never easy. "In a world of data of what works and what doesn't work, when a producer's intuitive responses are trusted less than research, I think it's forgotten that an audience wants something new," he said.

To that point: Verbinski and Depp are re-teaming for a revival of "The Lone Ranger," which would be something of a dusty counterpart to their three "Pirates of the Caribbean" films. Expect a wholly different take on the classic western radio and TV series.

So how did Verbinski come up with those loopy characters? And did the voice cast really wear costumes and meet on a set rather than a recording booth?

The director will join us at 11 a.m. Friday (Feb. 10) for a live chat about "Rango," the Oscar race and more. Sign up below:


'Rango' wins Annie Award for animated feature

Academy Award ballots are out; get your votes in

'Rango,' 'Kung Fu Panda 2' among those vying for Oscar

--Geoff Boucher

Photo: "Rango." Credit: Industrial Light & Magic/Paramount Pictures

Critical mass: 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' doesn't hold water with reviewers

May 20, 2011 |  4:18 pm


Disney's trio of "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies have grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. So it's a no-brainer that Johnny Depp would strap on Capt. Jack Sparrow's boots one more time for a fourth adventure, the newly released "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."

When we were last in these waters, critics threatened to mutiny, giving the franchise's third installment, "At World's End," the worst reviews of the series to date. Now that they've had some time to cool down, are they more welcoming of Depp's return to swashbuckling?


Times' critic Betsy Sharkey remains a fan of Mr. Depp and his oddball take on piracy, but she calls the rest of the movie "still not seaworthy, nor Sparrow worthy for that matter." According to Sharkey, the film's shabbiness is one of its biggest flaws. She writes, "If all that sounds like a promising place to work a lot of 3-D magic, then boy are you in for a major letdown. The Ds in this instance stand for dark and dismal and disastrously claustrophobic."

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Penelope Cruz reunites with Italian director Sergio Castellitto for new film

April 18, 2011 |  5:21 pm

Penelope Cruz has enjoyed a long and fruitful cinematic relationship with filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, and the actress is looking to make “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” magic happen again with a role in Woody Allen’s next film. Now she aims to add another director -– and country –- to her resume of repeat collaborations.

Cruz, who gets her biggest Hollywood turn to date with a starring role opposite Johnny Depp in next month’s "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," is set to reunite with Italian director Sergio Castellitto. She'll star in his war tale “Venuto al Mondo," and while there have been reports for more than a year of her involvement, Cruz says the movie is now a priority and that she hopes to make it one of her next projects.

In 2004, the Spanish actress starred in Castellitto’s melodrama “Don’t Move." In the auteur's new film, she'll play a single mother who brings her teenage son to Sarajevo, where the boy’s father died during the Balkan War. The film is based on an Italian bestseller.

The part is a switch for Cruz, who has until now mostly been sliding between Hollywood- and Spain-based movies. “I like that it’s a movie that’s not Spanish or English,” she told 24 Frames. "I love this part of the job that lets you become someone else with a different nationality.” She paused, “I guess I have to start studying Italian again.”


Anne Hathaway owes thanks to Penelope Cruz

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Penelope Cruz receives her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame earlier this month. Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

'Pirates of the Caribbean' runs out of treasure [trailer]

December 13, 2010 |  4:34 pm

From the moment Disney began contemplating a fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean,” there was a lot of talk about how the movie would scale down in budget and scope.

Judging by the trailer, Rob Marshall's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," which opens May 20, managed to do that without changing much about the big action sequences for which the franchise is known.

Unfortunately, Marshall doesn’t seem to have changed much else either. This time Jack Sparrow has a new quest searching for the fountain of youth, but it’s all in a very familiar context. Sparrow gets mouthy. Blackbeard swears vengeance. There’s swashbuckling, and supernatural elements, and nautical set pieces. Marshall has retained the spirit of Gore Verbinski, who directed the first three films, but without offering much reason for why there needed to be a new movie in the first place.

Should the Johnny Depp franchise have been retired after the last film, “At World’s End”? Jerry Bruckheimer has said he originally conceived ”Pirates” as a trilogy. He and Disney obviously changed their tune, but much of what’s here still just seems like the new packaging of old plotlines. The few changes that are attempted, such as swapping in Penelope Cruz for Keira Knightley, feel unconvincing. “Steady as she goes,” her character says. Too steady.

-- Steven Zeitchik




Did Disney pick a bad time to promote 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'?




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