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Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

PG-13 143 minutes

Directed by Gore Verbinski
Written by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio

 · Johnny Depp
 · Geoffrey Rush
 · Orlando Bloom
 · Keira Knightley
 · Jack Davenport
 · & Jonathan Pryce

Review by Arcturus

Pirates Of The Caribbean is a swashbuckling old school tale of adventure, romance and comedy from the dirctor of The Ring, Gore Verbinski, and the producer of such films as Top Gun, Jerry Bruckheimer. Based entirely on a famous Disney ride, Pirates incorporates many elements from different comedy and adventure films. Pirates follows the story of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), a young blasksmith, who, with the help of a strange and affected pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), attempts to track down Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightely), who has been captured by an unusual band of Pirates...




From the very minute Johnny Depp swaggers confidently off a rapidly sinking ship onto the dockside, we know we are in safe hands with this film. His comic timing and wonderful British accent are reason enough to see this film! Captain Jack Sparrow, the "worst pirate in the Caribbean," carries the comedy and adventure of the film from start to finish--though Depp is assisted by some other brilliant performances as well.

Orlando Bloom pulls off a competent performance as the straightforward blacksmith, although he is entirely overshadowed in the film by Depp's exaggerated, swaggering Sparrow.

Kiera Knightley is convincing as well, as Elizabeth Swann, the Governor's daughter, and proves throughout the course of the film that she won't backdown from the action and let the guys have all the fun. A particularly noteworthy scene is where Miss Swann and Sparrow are marooned on an island with no chance of escape. Knightley's character takes the initiative, setting fire to all the hidden supplies of rum on the island to act as a beacon--much to Sparrow's distress.

Geoffrey Rush is magnanimous as Barbossa, the cursed Captain of The Black Pearl. It seems like we Brits are fated to play the evil parts in all Hollywood action films, but at least we do it well! Other Brits to notice are Jonathan Pryce, playing the cowardly Governor of the colony, and also the bumbling wooden-eyed pirate, played by the brilliant Mackenzie Crook, who is most noted for his performance as Gareth from British hit comedy The Office.

The quality of the script is proficient for what the film is meant to be--fun and over the top. To be fair, it isn't an artistic masterpiece, but then it isn't meant to be. There were a few moments were the script got corny and annoying. The "Parle" gags were very funny at first, but by the end of the film I began to get frustrated with them.

The direction and pace of the film is great. It truly hearkens back to the rip-roaring, swashbuckling days of Errol Flynn, swinging from the main sails, shouting "avast me hearties", wearing suitably ridiculous long red tights! The action and battle sequences are well paced and timed. Particularly noteworthy is the excellent fight between Sparrow and Turner in the blacksmith's workshop.

To be fair, the film doesn't truly have the artistic weight of many of its contemporaries, and this is why its getting a slightly lower "smarts" rating than "popcorn". Whilst being incredibly entertaining and visually spectacular, it doesn't leave the audience with anything really to "reflect" upon or think about. This film won't move you like Das Boot or Master and Commander; in Pirates you are attached to the characters on a purely surface level.




In terms of entertainment, Pirates is nearly flawless. From Sparrow's opening daring escape through to the moonlight attack on a British Frigate, the pacing and visual effects are unrivaled.

Particularly noteworthy are the CGI animations of the cursed pirates, brought to you by the geniuses as Industrial Light & Magic. It's quite apparent that a lot of work has gone into creating the skeleton warriors, and it is truly breathtaking when we first get a view of them from Knightley's perspective onboard ship.

The humor in the film is amazing. Depp carries the film away with his "affected" Sparrow. The story of his escape from a desert island by capturing two giant turtles and strapping them together with back hair to use as a raft really made me laugh out loud. There are a few jokes which did fall flat on me and sounded a tad corny. Mackenzie Crook, though, is brilliant as one half of a bumbling pirate duo.

The musical score by Klaus Badelt (The Recruit, K-19: The Widowmaker, The Time Machine) is also worthy of a mention. The score really ties the film together well, keeping with the swashbuckling, nautical adventure theme. All in all, it's hard to find fault with the entertainment value of the film.



Jerry Bruckheimer has many movie crimes to attest to (Pearl Harbor, Kangaroo Jack) but when he is backed by an excellent cast, rip-roaring script and brilliant direction from Gore Verbinski, he can do no wrong. Pirates of the Caribbean is a rip-roaring, fun, family adventure with a superb performance from Johnny Depp. True, this is no high art, and any viewer going into this film seeking such will be disappointed, see Master And Commander or Das Boot for realistic, gritty life onboard ships, but from a purely entertainment point of view this film is difficult to find fault in. For a film based solely on a Disneyland ride, Pirates Of The Caribbean exceeded all my expectations.

877 Words Published: 10 December 2003

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