Pirates - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pirates Reviews

Page 1 of 11
Super Reviewer
March 29, 2014
Back before Johnny Depp revolutionised the pirate movie with his camp ways there were the odd rum fuelled flicks such as this. Roman Polanski doing what he does best which is creating lavish productions that tend to not be overly successful at first but gain cult status.

The story is naturally a typically salty one involving Walter Matthau's 'Captain Red' and his young French sidekick trying to pinch a golden throne from some fancy pant Spaniards. At the same time there is of course a love interest for the young dashing French sailor, mutinies, plenty of galleon boarding from both sides and lots of skullduggery on land and at sea.

I think this film is very similar to 'The Fearless Vampire Killers' in the fact that its actually kinda dull but looks beautiful. All the pirates, especially Matthau, look as they should do, covered in dirty rag-like attire, greasy facial hair, deep tans, golden teeth...every bit the stereotypical swashbuckling sea dog. I was quite intrigued with the wooden leg Matthau's Captain has, it really looks like he has a real wooden peg leg! and this is before CGI folks, impressed. On the flip side the Spanish look perfectly rich, aristocratic, pompous, snooty and dignified in their very impressive duds. The wigs sell the whole look if you ask me, really authentic looking.

I was also very impressed with Matthau's cockney English accent. He genuinely does a sterling job with it and comes across not American that's for sure. At the same time Damien Thomas as the preening perfume smelling 'Don Alfonso' is by far the stand out performance. You can truly see the disgust and contempt in his face for the wretched pirate scum, I really enjoyed his peacock-like display of regal superiority.

All the characters and extras look great and are accompanied by some luscious tropical locations and some nice olde worlde period ports (real locations). Did I mention the ship yet? no? well lemme tell you, it looks awesome. Fully realised to scale with a working motor so it can sail, completely detailed from top to bottom with everything you'd expect to see on a 17th Century Spanish vessel.

Yep its all visually stunning with good performances but unfortunately that's about it. There is very little of interest going on plot wise, the film is way too long and there isn't that much swashbuckling going on surprisingly. This isn't a silly fantasy flick nor is it a historically accurate flick, but it does bring a more down to earth approach to the genre. There isn't much flamboyant heroics here ladies and gentlemen, more like backstabbing with every man for himself, more genuine. No way is it as bad as suggested and I'm not sure why it didn't do better at the cinema, its a solid romp. Think along the lines of Richard Lester's Three Musketeer movies but with less comedy.
thefog1331
Super Reviewer
½ April 7, 2009
Quirky, uneven comedy that coming from Polanski I expected a little bit more out of. Now I understand why it doesn't have a legitimite release on DVD.
Super Reviewer
½ July 4, 2007
An atypical and charming adventure. It's great to see an auteur like Polanski shaping his vision no matter what genre or tone he's in, but in this case he forgot to apply a little more carefree attitude. some parts are great but still most of the film lacks sparkle and rhythm. Walter Matthau is amazingly cool in his role of a greedy, filthy and wisecracking old pirate.
garyX
Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2007
This Polanski pirate adventure bombed at the box office and was slated by critics, but I actually found it great fun. It was probably the first to deconstruct the classic swashbuckler, showing the grimier, more seedy side of piracy. It has loads of humour and period detail in a similar vein to Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers and Walther Matthau is always great fun to watch. Think of it as "the adventures of Jack Sparrow's dad"!
jimbotender
Super Reviewer
August 25, 2008
Chaotic.Polanski is struggling to control a big extravaganza of immoral surrealism,but my objection stands as to the absence of any point at all.I must give credit to the baffling satire e.g. pirates less smart than a molecule,our hero as a sinister bargainer and the obvious irony of them all.Mixed feelings but overall a sassy "adventure" film.
Hey,we all have our guilty pleasures,don't we?
Super Reviewer
½ August 27, 2008
Awful. I'll never understand how could Polanski do this.
½ March 4, 2014
Ugh. Polanski's worst. Matthau tries but is miscast as a Cockney pirate. This project was originally slated to be the follow-up to Chinatown, with Nicholson in the lead and Polanski playing second fiddle, a la Dance of the Vampires (1967). But it was not to be, and it was another decade before Polanski had another chance to do it. As it turns out, he may as well not have bothered. Certainly the film LOOKS fantastic; the costumes, sets, locations, and cinematography brilliantly evoke a time and place. But the script is the film's biggest failure; two hours is too long to spend on such an aimless and silly film. Despite a few bright moments, this is a near-total failure, and without a doubt the worst blunder of Polanski's filmmaking career.
September 21, 2012
A Roman Polanski comedy. What's not to love?
Politically incorrect here and there, Matthau plays it to the hilt (pun intended), and I admit I have a soft spot for the exiled pedophile's movie talent. Alleged . . .
½ August 23, 2007
Not your typical pirate movie, this one is less swashbuckling and more criminally filthy, and thus, in some ways, more honest in its depictions. Almost a comedy, Captain Red is in many ways not too far away from Captain Jack Sparrow. If Jack ever gets to live as long as Red, his misadventures may not be too different.
June 27, 2007
A good, solid pirate movie. Walter Mathau as a bad-ass pirate plus the future-delicious Charlotte Lewis. The scene with the harbor chain made my sides hurt.
Super Reviewer
March 29, 2014
Back before Johnny Depp revolutionised the pirate movie with his camp ways there were the odd rum fuelled flicks such as this. Roman Polanski doing what he does best which is creating lavish productions that tend to not be overly successful at first but gain cult status.

The story is naturally a typically salty one involving Walter Matthau's 'Captain Red' and his young French sidekick trying to pinch a golden throne from some fancy pant Spaniards. At the same time there is of course a love interest for the young dashing French sailor, mutinies, plenty of galleon boarding from both sides and lots of skullduggery on land and at sea.

I think this film is very similar to 'The Fearless Vampire Killers' in the fact that its actually kinda dull but looks beautiful. All the pirates, especially Matthau, look as they should do, covered in dirty rag-like attire, greasy facial hair, deep tans, golden teeth...every bit the stereotypical swashbuckling sea dog. I was quite intrigued with the wooden leg Matthau's Captain has, it really looks like he has a real wooden peg leg! and this is before CGI folks, impressed. On the flip side the Spanish look perfectly rich, aristocratic, pompous, snooty and dignified in their very impressive duds. The wigs sell the whole look if you ask me, really authentic looking.

I was also very impressed with Matthau's cockney English accent. He genuinely does a sterling job with it and comes across not American that's for sure. At the same time Damien Thomas as the preening perfume smelling 'Don Alfonso' is by far the stand out performance. You can truly see the disgust and contempt in his face for the wretched pirate scum, I really enjoyed his peacock-like display of regal superiority.

All the characters and extras look great and are accompanied by some luscious tropical locations and some nice olde worlde period ports (real locations). Did I mention the ship yet? no? well lemme tell you, it looks awesome. Fully realised to scale with a working motor so it can sail, completely detailed from top to bottom with everything you'd expect to see on a 17th Century Spanish vessel.

Yep its all visually stunning with good performances but unfortunately that's about it. There is very little of interest going on plot wise, the film is way too long and there isn't that much swashbuckling going on surprisingly. This isn't a silly fantasy flick nor is it a historically accurate flick, but it does bring a more down to earth approach to the genre. There isn't much flamboyant heroics here ladies and gentlemen, more like backstabbing with every man for himself, more genuine. No way is it as bad as suggested and I'm not sure why it didn't do better at the cinema, its a solid romp. Think along the lines of Richard Lester's Three Musketeer movies but with less comedy.
½ March 4, 2014
Ugh. Polanski's worst. Matthau tries but is miscast as a Cockney pirate. This project was originally slated to be the follow-up to Chinatown, with Nicholson in the lead and Polanski playing second fiddle, a la Dance of the Vampires (1967). But it was not to be, and it was another decade before Polanski had another chance to do it. As it turns out, he may as well not have bothered. Certainly the film LOOKS fantastic; the costumes, sets, locations, and cinematography brilliantly evoke a time and place. But the script is the film's biggest failure; two hours is too long to spend on such an aimless and silly film. Despite a few bright moments, this is a near-total failure, and without a doubt the worst blunder of Polanski's filmmaking career.
November 1, 2013
The screenwriters obviously believed that Polanski's exceptional direction and Matthau's stunning performance would save their worthless script.
December 29, 2012
Great movie. Epic. If you like Raising Arizona, My Chauffeur, Eating Raoul or Yellowbeard, you will probably like this. Don't pay any attention to the dumb ass critics. Decide for yourself if you can find a copy of this movie.
December 7, 2012
Would like to get round to watching.
September 21, 2012
A Roman Polanski comedy. What's not to love?
Politically incorrect here and there, Matthau plays it to the hilt (pun intended), and I admit I have a soft spot for the exiled pedophile's movie talent. Alleged . . .
½ September 2, 2012
Quirky, uneven comedy that coming from Polanski I expected a little bit more out of. Now I understand why it doesn't have a legitimite release on DVD.
May 9, 2012
Great movie, very funny, well paced and acted. I don't get why it's so underrated. Sure it's not in the top 50 best movies of all time but it's very well written and is packing a lot of great moments. Polanski's mise en scene works wonders and blends perfectly with Philippe Sarde's score (quite great).
Was my favorite film 20 years ago, just saw it yesterday after 10 years and is still very good. Highly recommended.
½ March 25, 2012
Despite a good performance by Walter Matthau this is a dull pirate adventure, due to the fact that the story goes in circles returning ultimately to the same point where it started.
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