As a kid, this movie was everything for me. It had funny characters, cool action and great music. At least I would have said that if I actually grew up with this movie as everyone else seemed to do. I was introduced to this franchise with the sequel, Dead Man’s Chest, and had pretty much the same first impressions. The Curse of the Black Pearl is not a very deep film and some of the characters are a bit forgettable. It is however a great movie for when you want to turn your brain of and just enjoy a swash-buckling adventure and no other movie does this better than Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Written by Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio
Stars: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush
Released: 9 July 2003
Running time: 2h 23min
No spoilers to be found here!
The film takes place in the early 18th century, set in the British colony of Port Royal, located in the middle of the Caribbean. Governor Swann (played by Jonathan Pryce) lives a luxurious life with his adult daughter Elizabeth (played by Keira Knightley). Their peace is disturbed as the colony is attacked by a cursed ship called “The Black Pearl” and Elizabeth is kidnapped. Young blacksmith William Turner (played by Orlando Bloom) frees the convicted pirate Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp) in order to track down the ship and rescue Elizabeth.
The story might seem simple, and it is at first, but gets pretty complicated later on as it involves curses that can only be lifted with the correct bloodlines and so on. The thing is though, the story doesn’t really matter in this film. Pirates of the Caribbean is about simple and fun pirate adventures out on the sea. The story is only here to introduce our characters and then set them in pirate situations, which is evident by the lack of logic regarding the titular curse. It is firmly stated how it should be lifted, but the film then plays very loosely with these rules in order to make a more fun film. That is the philosophy regarding the screenplay of the movie, quickly set up fun scenarios and then fill them with good action, comedy and characters. If the film goes against any of the set rules then let it, having fun is more important then be able to take it all to seriously. Since this is a movie about undead pirates wanting to lift a curse, taking it seriously would have been pretty hard. The film’s focus is on having a good time and isn’t that strict with it’s set rules, which is exactly what you want from a movie like Pirates of the Caribbean.
Johnny Depp was born to play captain Jack Sparrow. This is the role that made him a super star and ironically the only one he seems to have been doing ever since. Jack is a smart but somewhat whimsical pirate who always seems to be a bit drunk and has no sense of balance. He talks funny, he’s charming and always has a plan. Jack Sparrow was originally written as a more standard pirate anti-hero, but Johnny Depp added so much more to the role. Even though he is more of a side-character in this film, he is the deepest and most interesting. You can sense that he has more to offer than he lets on, which makes him a very fascinating character to watch. The audiences fell in love with Jack Sparrow and he has become one of the most well-known fictional personalties of the 2000:s.
Geoffrey Rush plays Barbossa, the captain of the Black Pearl and main antagonist of the film. This character is more along the lines of the typical bad guy pirate captain, but Rush does such a great job at portraying just that. You can tell that he has a blast when playing this character, he is dirty, has an evil grin and amazing laugh, but still is very much in control at all times. In short, a great pirate villain and one of the more memorable characters in the film.
There are also a lot of smaller characters that make good impressions, Jonathan Pryce as Governor Swann has some great comedic moments and Jack Davenport as the secondary antagonist Norrington does a great job at seeming very official and in control.
The movie uses it’s fair share of computer generated imagery, mainly for pirate skeletons and the like. These do show their age somewhat and it is hard to buy them as real people, but it still looks good enough. It’s noticeable, but doesn’t take away a lot from the experience. Other than that I couldn’t notice that much CGI, which is generally a good thing.
One of the things this franchise became known for was it’s music and how well it fitted with the swash-buckling adventure. It’s big, orchestrated, epic and gives an amazing sense of pirate adventure. You just want to take out your sword and scream aarrgh! Other then the main theme, there are a lot of great tracks in this soundtrack that all fit well for their occasion. The action is made a hundred times better when this music is playing and I simply love how fun and adventurous it is. One of Hans Zimmer’s best for sure.
As you might have noticed, I have failed to mention two of the main characters of the movie, William Turner and Elizabeth Swann. They are essentially the Luke and Leia of this movie, their conflict is the main focus of the film and the thing that gets the story going. The problem is that both of them are pretty uninteresting. Compared to all the strange and quirky pirates of the movie, these two are more of the straight people to balance the film out. But since this movie doesn’t put a lot of effort on characterization and more on performance, they come of as bland and boring. Orland Bloom’s somewhat emotionless acting doesn’t help either. As the movie progresses, a romantic relationship develops which sadly falls flat for me. This is because you don’t care about any of these characters and that they share almost no scenes alone before they start kissing, therefore lacking chemistry. This could have been a huge issue, but the movie seems to acknowledge this and except for being the starting point of the plot, the film doesn’t focus that much on the two of them alone. The majority of the time is spent on the funny pirate action and I think these two work fine when they simply are in the background of these scenes.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a simple but effective blockbuster. It is a movie that doesn’t concern itself with in-depth character studies and complex rules to play by. It wants to give you a good time in any way that it can and succeeds at doing that. The characters are quirky and cool, the action is spectacular and fun, the music is amazing and the entire film seems like the perfect pirate film. There are some more serious characters and moments, but they exist mainly to balance out everything else in the film and are therefore not that interesting in and off themselves. This isn’t a big problem since these aspects are never heavily relied on, but when the movie tries to sell a love story it sadly falls a bit flat. For what it is, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl offers a great time, not to be taking too seriously. When you feel the need to simply relax to a movie without doing to much thinking, there are few choices that are as good as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Cover image source: plus.google.com