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Dancing the dirty tango: a review of Pirates XXX

Pirates XXXCompiled by the Ginger Critic, film critic

When I set out to review Pirates XXX (2005), the thinly guised porno version of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), I was expecting a gruesome task. The sheer amount of possibilities for sexcapades amongst a co-ed pirate crew is staggering, and I was sure I would be fast-forwarding through hours of slippery pirate booty flailing about the screen. Much to my surprise, there was quite a lot of swash and buckled (ahem, dressed) plot and character development going on (this is a review of a pirate porno, I have a pun quota requirement). I wanted so badly to hate this movie so I could sarcastically praise it, but I actually found it quite enjoyable (minus the sex scenes).

It began with the worst scene in the movie: Manuel Venezuela (aka Will Turner’s pornstar alter ego) and Isabella (aka whoever Kiera Knightly was supposed to be) coyly perform their dutiful wedding-night coitus.  Isabella is quickly established as the “Cute” archetype, and Manuel as the boyishly (ulch) handsome, winsome young man. Fortunately we do not have to endure his presence much longer, for they are soon captured by the dread pirate Stagnetti and his fearsome first mate Serena, the Dominatrix. Isabella the Cute is chucked overboard, and boyish-Manuel is captured for some mysterious purpose. This character could basically be replaced by a blow up doll for the rest of the film, because he remains blessedly silent.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the high seas drifts the true hero of the film, Captain Edward Reynolds, a dashingly foppish inexperienced pirate-catcher with self-esteem issues. His first mate is the plump-lipped Jules Steel, who mysteriously cheers up the entire rest of the crew to the point where they sing God’s praises. Yes, she is forevermore the Slut. The Captain and his naïve, blundering crew of pirate catchers happen upon Isabelle the Cute floating in the water, and set off after her captured husband and the dreaded Stagnetti.

Pirate-catchers follow the pirates to some sad excuse of an analogy for Tortuga, where the never-faltering Captain is beset by a herd of wenches. They praise his cannon-like arms, which makes him beam with pride. The wenches try to lure him into bed, but it takes a while because he’s so damn excited about catching Stagnetti. He wrestles them off several times before they eventually drug him to finally have their slimy way. He also picks up a fangirl, who later forces him to have sex with her to get out of a burning building. Apparently there was a target market for Crazy Bitch.

Meanwhile, Stagnetti’s plot unfolds; he uses one ancient Incan artifact to uncover another ancient artifact, which (spoiler!) raises skeletons. In no way could this possibly be similar to Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Certainly not. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Will Turner’s mute porno-alter-ego is the key to unlocking the secrets of the ancient artifacts.

To be fair, it truly is fairly distinctively different (spoiler alert): Instead of Will-2 having a coin which reverses the curse (Go Redsox!), a priest has to stab him with a sacred knife, and then twinkly lights fly out of his chest as a vision appears of the mystic island they must travel to (Will-2 survives the stabbing, no worries). Then at the island, there’s a staff that can be used to raise skeletons. I hate to say it, but while the CG skeletons were super fake, the gang’s fight with them was some of the more convincing human-CG interaction I’ve seen in a low budget (read: not a multi-million dollar) production. Golf clap for you, Digital Playground.

Mind you, even though there were only 10 bouts of coitus, every moment seemed like it could turn into one. The sheer tension that was created any time two characters spoke had me filled with instant dread, and subsequent relief at every possible second. When Isabella was meandering about with the (insultingly racist portrayal of a) Chinese explosives specialist, Wu Cho, I was terrified that they would wind up in a crazed frenzy of passion. Much to my relief, this never occurred. The only moment I was a little hopeful was when Oxford the well-mannered log-manager cuddled up to Wu Cho, but he was sadly dismissed. The times when actual sex happened were so surprising and out of the blue, or so predictable, that it was almost relieving; instead of taking advantage of the horrors of my imagination, the film denied any thoughts that sexual tension could lead to pornographic encounters.

As for the acting, Captain Edwards Reynolds saved what might have otherwise been a sunken ship. Even the side distraction of Jules Steel’s weird speech impediment was forgotten any time this supreme being of a man opened his mouth, his long tresses blowing across his beautiful, heavily make-upped eyes. Every sentence was a treasure, every ridiculous smile a rainbow of kittens and unicorns in a land of trolls and smurfs with implants trying to pass off as sex-appeal.

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