Thursday, July 06, 2006
Yo Ho, Yooo hoo, Johnny!
Psst! Avast there! You come seeking adventures with salty ol' pirates, eh? Here be the review of the new Pirates of the Carribbean rehab changes, courtesy of Walt Disney Imagineering. Arrgh!
Despite the rather pirate-crazy crowd, Pirates of the Carribbean began as it always does - with throngs of screaming children, sweaty people, and the nauseous smell of fish from the clam chowder stand nearby. Lovely. However, once inside, at least the fish smell gives way to the musty ride smell, which is noticeably better since the rehab! Yay! for cleaning once in a while.
Once you drop down the first and second waterfalls though, the first thing you can notice is the addition of music cues from the soundtracks of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Score composed by Klaus Badelt) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Score composed by Hans Zimmer). Over 220 new speakers were installed, and all the original ride voice and soundtracks were digitally re-mastered. This mostly works brilliantly as new depth and tone is clear, but in some cases, the magic is gone - most notably gone is the lyrics in the 'Yo Ho Yo Ho' sing-a-long between drops.
The "Hurricane", "Captains Quarters" and "Treasure" scenes were all virtually unchanged except for a few new props used in the movie and some new pirates playing chess. (it got a guffaw out of me!)
As the boats float into the "Perhaps he knows too much - Dead men tell no tales" cavern that leads to main part of the ride, the tie-in-insanity really begins as a new projection effect appears on a smoke-mist "curtain" above the boats. Much like the sometimes-working smoke-mist curtain in Indiana Jones where rats fall onto the car, Davy Jones (the almost unrecognizable Bill Nighy) appears in the mist with his beard made of wiggling octopus tentacles. "Ah, but they do tell tales..." he says, inviting our boat, who is "brave or fool enough to face a pirate's curse..." to enter the caverns.
Next up, the 1967 pirate ship known as the "Wicked Wench" has NOT been remade into the Black Pearl seen in the movies. That's right - it's NOT. It seems Jerry Bruckheimer refused to allow WDI to use the Black Pearl likeness and name. While Johnny Depp has agreed to have his likeness used for the face skins on the new Jack Sparrow animatronics, Mr. Bruckheimer wasn't as generous with his personal movie trademarks. To which I say, Huzzah Jerry. Not for his greedy nature, but for the saving of our beloved Wicked Wench. It's bad enough Barbossa is on it. Sigh.
Yes, the familiar beloved animatronic pirate captain has been replaced by a new animatronic version of Captain Barbossa(Geoffrey Rush). This is the most questionable of the rehab items in my mind. It's such an iconic shout of 'Avast ya scurvy scum! Fire at will...Another broadside and we'll go down with the tide...ya lilly livered lubbers...Strike ya colors ya bloomin' cockroaches!" that to hear Barbossa say it (at least they kept the script the same!) just seems like something is missing. I'm all for adding Depp-a-liciousness, but Rush in exchange for The Pirate King? No. No, I say.
Barbossa's add ons to the script tell us that they're on the hunt for shipmate Depp who's struck out on his own to try and find the treasure first. Barbossa accuses the townspeople of hiding Jack Sparrow from him, attempting to explain the 30 year old looting and burning of the village. Way to go WDI! I think 30 years is just about the right amount of time before the whole 'Walt's backward waterfall pirate time jaunt' made sense. If you don't know what I'm talking about, suffice it to say that Walt's original plan involved a backward through time story, and a 'going up the waterfall' at the end comment. Walt is genius, but even I had my doubts as to that explanation.
New simulated cannonballs passing overhead use blasts of air aimed at the boats, and added boom with three bass subwoofers that have been installed between the pirate galleon and the Spanish fortress to basically make us get wet, and jump. They succeeded. Underscoring from the films has also been added to the scene.
As the boats enter the "I will not talk!" scene, the first of three Jack Sparrow (cue Depp-a-licious comments) animatronics makes its appearance as Jack attempts to hide behind dress-makers forms. Hand placement is everything as his hands are placed on ahem...interesting...parts of the female dress mannequins.
In the "galleon full of cargo" scene, Jack pops up (literally) in place of the kitty with the fish. Nothing against Jack, but the kitty elicits an 'Aww..' but Jack elicits just.. "Hmm." It does, however, recreate the old gag from the 60's with the girl peeking out of the barrel. It got removed in the PC makeover along with all the pirates chasing the women. This is where Jack sees the treasure map, and we know he'll use his Depp-a-licious charms to get the treasure.
The ride then returns to it's classic roots, until finally...
After a night of revelry and looting, we find Captain Jack victorious, appearing a third and final time on the far side of the 'up the waterfall' flume. He's sitting in the treasure vault, enjoying rum, and singing the lyrics to Yo Ho Yo Ho...at least they're somewhere in the ride. "Drink up, lads, there is treasure enough for all!"
Overall, a pleasant change. WDI did a good job, and I don't see any real change to criticize. It IS Depp-a-licious, and simple enough changes to remove (thinking ahead). It is noticeable that the mist screen is the easiest change, should Pirates 2 bomb, but we'll all hope it won't come to that.
I for one am looking forward to PC 3: At World's End (with Chow Yun Fat!), where supposedly Keith Richards will appear. If ever there was a truer pirate than that. Yo Ho me hearties! Drink up!