January 9, 2010

Hughes Brothers Nearly Directed "Pirates 4"

Albert & Allen Hughes, the filmmaking brothers from Detroit that brought us Menace 2 Society, Dead Presidents and From Hell, revealed to MTV that they were approached by Disney to direct the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film. The Hughes brothers have a new film coming out next weekend, The Book of Eli, a post-apocalyptic tale starring Denzel Washington, and it was the post-production work on that film that caused the brothers to withdraw themselves from consideration for the directing gig on the fourth Pirates movie. Gore Verbinksi, who helmed the first three films in the series, backed out of the fourth one leaving Disney scrambling to find a new director. The Hughes Brothers, who hadn't made a film in ten years since their (underrated) Jack the Ripper flick From Hell, seemed like an unlikely choice, but Johnny Depp, who starred in From Hell, recommended the brothers and soon they were considering taking on the challenge; cheifly because of how much they respected Depp.
Though scheduling issues led to the job ultimately going to Rob Marshall (the director of Chicago and Nine - and in my opinion a very odd choice for a big budget pirate movie) I would have liked to have seen their take on The Pirates of the Caribbean. They're films are known for their grittiness and violence, and a darker take on Captain Jack Sparrow would have no doubt been interesting (though I really wonder if Disney would have allowed them any leeway in terms of making the film darker or more violent at all.) When the duo began production on the Jack the Ripper flick, they received a lot of criticism, much of it just thinly veiled racism, because their previous projects, the aforementioned Menace 2 Society and Dead Presidents (and their third film, a documentary called American Pimp) were urban stories in urban settings. Obviously From Hell was a period piece set in Victorian England. Were these the right filmmakers to tell this story, was the oft-posed question by the doubters. (The unspoken remark being: they can make films, but let them make "urban" films. The moment they want to make a movie outside of that world, then we've got a problem!) I was already a fan of the brothers before From Hell, but it was their response to this criticism that really won me over - and silenced their critics. They simply asked if Steven Spielberg had ever really met a space alien, and if he hadn't, was he really the right guy to make E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial? The questions stopped after that.

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