Pirates - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pirates Reviews

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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 7, 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 April 6, 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.
January 5, 2012
I saw this film for the first time a couple of years ago cuz i found it in an obscure video store! Well it's funny as! Had a lot of fun watching this film! The cast is absolutely fantastic, Walter Matthau is one of the best Pirate character i have ever seen, to my opinion only 'Jack Sparow' can match him!It's really well directed & the cinematography impressive..... if you loved 'Pirates of the Caribbean' you'll probably love that one as well.....
November 8, 2011
I meant the pirates of the caribean movies
½ April 25, 2011
Walter Matthau as a pirate... or was he playing Saddam Hussein?
March 20, 2011
how to get well paid in Hollywood after making Rosemary's baby and Repulsion.
½ March 14, 2011
This shipwreck just proves that even a great director can have a really bad day at work.
½ March 12, 2011
Still a mess, but looks great on the French bluray transfer. Finally doing justice to Witold Sobocinski's (Sanatorium pod Kleypstra) cinematography, and the Tunisian sunrise and set at magic hour. The tortured production is evident as the story and gags are wildly uneven, and the constant use of Lewis as an object of comic sexual violence is even more creepy given Polanski's evident off-camera predations.
February 1, 2011
Roman Polanski had always wanted to do a swashbuckler pirate film, and he wanted to do this back in the mid-1970's with Jack Nicholson. That never happened, 10 years later, it did. The result is maybe Polanski's weakest film, despite good intentions, the comedy comes out ham-fisted and even the action looks cartoonish at best. This has Captain Thomas Bartholomew Red (Walter Matthau) and his first mate Frog (Cris Campion), on a raft in the middle of the ocean, starving and dehydrated. But they're soon picked up by a Spanish Galleon, and forced into slavery. But, Captain Red is having non of that, and he soon leads a mutiny with the other prisoners on the ship, and what Captain Red wants most of all is a solid gold throne the Spanish claimed from an Aztec king, meanwhile Frog tries to romance the Spanish govenor's daughter, María-Dolores de la Jenya de la Calde (Charlotte Lewis). It's got a very minimal plot, and despite claims from those who have championed the film saying "It's like POTC without the CGI", it just isn't. That knew how to handle comedy, Polanski can't. Matthau's over the top performance is the film's only saving grace, and this plods along at a tedious pace. It was produced by Cannon Films, what would you expect from them. This is worse than Cutthroat Island (1995), and that's saying something!!
½ January 23, 2011
walther matthau is hilarious as Captain Red. Fun and entertaining Pirate movie.
August 11, 2010
Walter Matthau is the dominant actor and plays his pirate Captain colourfully. The film has to rank as one of Roman Polanski's worst during his time in exile. It's disjointed and nowhere near as funny as they attempted to make it.
August 11, 2010
Första dåliga filmen jag sett av Polanski.
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