Spielberg and Crichton’s swashbuckler

Posted by · 12:43 pm · August 27th, 2009

Cover of Pirate LatitudesI’ve been of the mind for quite some time now that a good (operative word) pirate film is way overdue.  The “Pirates of the Caribbean” films are fine and all, the first one especially.  Blending the mythos of a pirate story with that of, essentially, a ghost yarn was a brilliant way to make the oeuvre more palatable to audiences.

Because let’s face it, the reason these films aren’t made today is two-fold: audiences see it as passe and they aren’t cheap to produce.  It’s the same unfortunate circumstance with westerns.

For me, however, the fantasy of Disney’s franchise isn’t enough.  I want more, and I want something tangible.  High seas adventures in general, not just pirate tales, can really sing on the big screen.  Peter Weir’s “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” is a perfect example, a brilliant, somewhat forgotten film that is sincere and compelling throughout.

So the news that Steven Spielberg is going back to the Michael Crichton well (as conveyed in today’s round-up) for “Pirate Latitudes” is exciting indeed, despite the presence of David Koepp.  Then again, the only Koepp-scripted films that have ever been any good are those directed by Spielberg, so perhaps it’ll balance out.  I just hope this kick-starts an interest in the genre.

At the end of the day, if I owe that to Disney’s shenanigans, so be it.  And perhaps the studio will do the same for the western when the more action-oriented “The Lone Ranger” finally makes its way to screens.  But, like I said, I want more.

In a nutshell, I’m ready to see a pirate film taken seriously as a prestige, even awards pic along the lines of, say, “Gladiator.”  Spielberg’s film looks to be an entertainment thing, but sooner or later, it’d be nice to something akin to Weir’s work.  Just sayin’.

→ 19 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

19 responses so far

  • 1 8-27-2009 at 1:13 pm

    Marvin said...

    Koepp’s last adaptation for Spielberg (WOTW) was an utter failure though, and I’d rather see someone else take on the writing duties for this.

  • 2 8-27-2009 at 1:42 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I thought WOTW really worked, actually. I remain an odd sort of fan there.

  • 3 8-27-2009 at 1:46 pm

    El Rocho said...

    What’s your beef with Koepp? Sure, he’s not the best around and sort of glorified, but, really?

    I loved Stir of Echoes. And was surprised by Ghost Town. But even for writing credits? Death Becomes Her? The Paper? Mission: Impossible? Snake Eyes? Panic Room? Carlito’s Way? Secret Window?

    I’m curious to hear your take on him.

  • 4 8-27-2009 at 2:00 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Nothing wrong with WotW. People tend to dismiss it for the ending alone, which is very ignorant of an otherwise compelling film.

    This project sounds really exciting and could be huge. Indy-sized fun is what I’m hoping for.

  • 5 8-27-2009 at 2:18 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I liked Ghost Town okay. Forgot about that. But his transgressions so outweigh the rest. I don’t like Panic Room at all. Snake Eyes is fun, give you that. Mission: Impossible, eh. As a screenplay, anyway. Secret Window is awful. Carlito’s Way worked, but that’s three with De Palma and two with Spielberg that are okay, and I think it’s the directors elevating the material.

    I remain appalled by what he did to Spider-Man. Angels & Demons partnered him with Akiva Goldsman, so it was doubly bad. I don’t know, I just think he’s so painfully formulaic and never particularly profound with his work, and that he rests on the laurels of his financially successful but artistically vacant work, I guess I just take umbrage.

  • 6 8-27-2009 at 2:43 pm

    Mr. Gittes said...

    William Monahan’s “Tripoli” is sort of a pirate film, but not really in the sense that you mean.

    An epic pirate movie akin to Master and Commander and Gladiator is long over due, indeed. Perhaps there’s a fiction or nonfiction book out there in which one can draw a story from that is wholly cinematic…

  • 7 8-27-2009 at 3:08 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Believe me. I’m on it…

  • 8 8-27-2009 at 3:23 pm

    El Rocho said...

    I agree with you there, Kris. But I still feel Stir of Echoes was his crowning achievement and an overlooked film.

    I completely agree with Spider-Man. And you comment on Akiva Goldsman. That man hasn’t done anything worthwhile.

  • 9 8-27-2009 at 3:23 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I’d still rather see another Master & Commander feature.

  • 10 8-27-2009 at 4:25 pm

    david said...

    The life of the pirate Henry Morgan would make for grand entertainment on the big screen. Don’t know if it’s ever been done, but it should be.

  • 11 8-27-2009 at 5:43 pm

    John H. Foote said...

    Man I wish he get moving on “Lincoln” last I heard he was doing a remake of that old chestnut (and wildly out of date) “Harvey” — “Lincoln” could be a knockout if handled right — what is he doing these days?? “Harvey” would need a major overhaul because what was funny in 1950 does not work today — and is there any doubt Tom Hanks will play Elwood P. Dowd?
    “Lincoln” please…..

  • 12 8-27-2009 at 5:48 pm

    Ryan Adams said...

    John Steinbeck’s first published novel, “Cup of Gold,” was is a swashbuckler about Captain Henry Morgan.

    Daphne DuMaurier’s Frenchman’s Creek involves a French pirate. But the lead character is a heroine — so don’t let Renny Harlin get wind of it.

    Of course, those are both over 60 years old, so that doesn’t do much to address the issue that the genre is passe.

    I don’t count Depp’s Pirates as anywhere close to what we’re talking about. So barring Black Pearl, I can’t think of a single pirate movie that doesn’t look a little ridiculous onscreen. So, in the sense that there’s never been a good one, ever, I guess you could say one is overdue.

    Maybe some subjects really are best left as novels. 19th Century novels.

  • 13 8-27-2009 at 5:55 pm

    Harry said...

    I’m actually going to puke if Spielberg makes another glossy and inconsequential blockbuster. Stop going for BIG man, use that brain of yours and create something…you know…CREATIVE. Be original, i dare you.

  • 14 8-27-2009 at 6:37 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Spielberg nuked the fridge a while ago

  • 15 8-27-2009 at 8:21 pm

    Frank Lee said...


    I’m sure you’re right, but what makes shooting a Western so expensive?

  • 16 8-27-2009 at 8:43 pm

    Danny K. said...

    Crichton is such a visionary writer that anything with his name on it has the potential to be something great. Add Spielberg into the mix and we could have ourselves a great film.

  • 17 8-27-2009 at 11:18 pm

    Ryan Adams said...

    “anything with Chrichton’s name on it has the potential to be something great”

    Pity that potential has only paid off once out of 12 adaptations.

    Coma? Sphere? Rising Sun? Congo?

  • 18 8-27-2009 at 11:58 pm

    Marvin said...

    I hated WOTW. A.I. on the other hand I found brilliant. One of Spielberg’s best along w. E.T., Raiders and Jaws. When are things finally gonna move forward w. his Lincoln movie? And I hope for something to come out of that Interstellar blurb from a few years past. In other news there is a rumor that R. Crowe wants to make another Master and Commander movie.

  • 19 8-28-2009 at 6:54 am

    Gustavo H.R. said...

    To John Foote: Tom Hanks has already declined the role of Dowd.