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

Sometimes you’ve had a long day and you just want to relax.  Maybe you’ll throw in a fun, action-packed movie so you can just shut your brain off for a while.  No evaluating. No reading subtitles. No thinking, period.  Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is definitely one of those movies.  It is a flawed film that is mostly driven by a singular performance, but it’s also an incredibly fun pirate movie full of swashbuckling adventure and lengthy sword fighting scenes.

Blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) enlists the help of savvy pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in the search for the Governor’s daughter, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly).  Miss Swann was taken during a raid by the crew of the Black Pearl, a ship commanded by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and is in possession of a precious piece of pirate gold that the crew need to lift a terrible curse.  While Will seeks only to save Elizabeth, Captain Jack has another plan, one that involves tricks, lots of rum and gaining control of his lost ship, The Black Pearl.

Pirates is by no means a perfect film.  It clocks in at  a whopping 2 hours and 23 minutes. Given the story line and overall plotting, that’s probably 30 minutes too long.  Though it’s true that much of the reason you watch a pirate flick is to witness the cool sword fighting scenes, the ones in The Curse of the Black Pearl are far too drawn out, and mostly meaningless, considering these pirates cannot be killed — something which almost becomes frustrating to watch by the time you get to the last big fight scene towards the end of the movie.  Making things worse is that the majority of the characters in this film are surprisingly uninteresting, something which is especially true of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly’s Will and Elizabeth, who are boring and superficial.  They offer nothing more than pretty faces and plot development.  If it were not for Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa would completely steal the show.

Unfortunately for Geoffrey Rush, The Curse of the Black Pearl and every Pirates movie that follows is a one-man tour-de-force for Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. He’s sneaky and hilarious in the most absurd way, and is so enjoyable to watch that you find yourself longing for his next scene when he isn’t on screen. What’s more, many of the little tics that make Captain Jack Sparrow so fantastically bizarre — such as the gold teeth and the weird heat stroke stumbling — were all Depp’s ideas.  It’s fitting, since Captain Jack Sparrow is the exact image that comes to mind when you hear the word pirate, and we owe that to the performance by Johnny Depp.

Its pitfalls aside, The Curse of the Black Pearl is a seriously fun movie.  It’s the type of film that never takes itself seriously.  There are loads of action and adventure, and many inappropriate, rum-consuming pirates.  Bottom line, The Curse of the Black Pearl is exactly what it promises to be: an enjoyable and energetic pirate movie.  Just don’t expect a cinematic masterpiece.

The stats:

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl landed at #473 out of a possible 1345 movies on my Flickchart.  That converts to a rating of 3 out of 5 stars or 65%.  It is ranked #100 out of 409 movies I have seen from the 2000s.  It is ranked #5 out of 9 movies I have seen so far in this competition.


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