Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Review No. 420


The Bottom Line:
Yo, ho, ho, ho, it’s quite a fun movie.

Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Screenplay by: Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio
Story by: Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio & Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert
Based on: Walt Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean
Captain Jack Sparrow: Johnny Depp
Captain Barbossa: Geoffrey Rush
Will Turner: Orlando Bloom
Elizabeth Swann: Keira Knightley
Commodore Norrington: Jack Davenport
Governor Weatherby Swann: Jonathan Pryce
Also Starring: Angus Barnett, Christopher S. Capp, Damian O’Hare, David Bailie, Giles New, Greg Ellis, Kevin McNally, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Martin Klebba, Zoe Saldana

Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures on July 9, 2003. Produced in English by the United States. Runs 144 mins. Rated PG-13 by the MPAA for action/adventure violence.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
was watched on February 16, 2013.

“Do us a favor… I know it’s difficult for you… but please, stay here, and try not to do anything… stupid.” –Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp)

Pirates of the
Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
is a fun little adventure. Now, mind you, don’t expect anything truly mind blowing here. This is based on a theme park ride–not a book or a stage play but a ride at Disneyland, and a log flume, no less. But you can manage to expect the somewhat unexpected. There is more dramatic depth to it than that, and even more than in most “pirate movies.” We all know that only according to myth did
pirates actually hunt for their treasure and talk in a gruff dialect and whatnot.
Pirates gleefully and harmlessly toys with the folk legend.

We begin sometime during the American Revolution. It’s not clear what year, but considering most other movies would assume we know what period the legend surrounded, it doesn’t much matter.

The Black Pearl is the subject at hand. This is a ghost ship that, although highly improbable, has a massively debated existence. Legend has it that a small, golden medallion has the power over whether or not those belonging to the ship are immortal. At the age of twelve, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) gets her hands on this
mysterious artifact, by pure mistake. Almost instantly, she declares that she wishes to become a pirate. And later in her life, she does. But little does she know what life will hand her: just
about everything from the handsome blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando
Bloom), to the quirky and bumbling Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny

Pirates is a large-scale technical achievement, with only as much substance as necessary. What stands out most is the music, easily a one-hit wonder for its composer, Klaus Badelt. His original work on other films (Mission: Impossible 2, Catwoman) is nearly impossible to recall. The music in
Pirates–particularly when it dissolves into Dariusz Wolski’s soaring camerawork–is nearly impossible to forget. This is all in the name of adventure and fun, as is everything about the film.

One area, however, I can’t help but feel was indulging in a bit much fun. The screenplay, scripted by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, feels extensive at times.
Pirates could have worked as an entirely fluent production at just around two hours. Just an extra twenty minutes seems to kill the climactic moments.

Despite its occasional flaws, I had quite a blast watching Pirates of the Caribbean. The escapade addresses 80% of “pirate” clichés in an almost straightforward–yet, at the same time, goofy–manner. Trying to keep count of search terms akin “Davey Jones’s locker” and “they’re gaining on us” is like trying to stay awake while your face is pressed against a skillet, but in all likelihood, this was intended. What defines
Pirates entirely is Johnny Depp’s performance. He’s creepy, strange, amusing, and he
notably enhances the mood, a blend between quirky and macabre. Jack
Sparrow–I’m sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow was the well executed role of a lifetime for Depp; that this earned him his first Academy Award nomination is anything but surprising.

The film itself isn’t anything of an award-winning swashbuckler. But if it doesn’t end leaving you with a cheesy grin on your face, it’s likely your definition of “fun” is very limited.


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


4 thoughts on “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

  1. The Pirates trilogy is kind of like my guilty pleasure. I notice the flaws, but if I catch it on TV or some situation comes up, I always watch and finish them. Even the two sequels, which people seem to loath for some reason.

  2. It’s long, but it’s a bunch of fun and you can’t deny the coolness of Johnny Depp when he’s playing Captain Jack. Yeah, it’s a bit over-played by now but the first time to see it was so electric and crazy. Just the way I like my Depp to be. Good review man.

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