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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Pirates of the Caribbean:
The Curse of the Black Pearl

Fantasy Adventure Comedy / English / 2003

For the Action Movie Countdown.

Reassessing for action-oriented purposes.

"That is, without a doubt, the worst pirate I have ever seen."

Horses, Donkeys, Dogs, Pigs, Monkeys, Fish, Shrimp, Chickens, Parrots, and bird **** jokes weren't the most disgusting thing to come of it.

Having been on the actual Disney Pirates of the Caribbean ride before it actually became a movie and they reinvented it to fit their new franchise, I was also skeptical of how the iconic depiction of the archetypal pirate theme, inspired by the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson's book, Treasure Island, would fair with it's memorable jingles and sense of adventure intact, especially in a modern Disney age.

While I do not believe it truly managed to encapsulate the feeling of going on that ride, it does manage to plunder distant feelings of nostalgia. But that's just a bow wrapping the package that includes a few neat things, the best of which being Johnney Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow.

Strangely, Sparrow's not even the biggest item in the box as screentime is shared fairly evenly between him as the comedy relief and the two main protagonists, Swan and Will, played by Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom.

I feel that Knightley fails to live up to the screen presence she had in Domino and I'd blame that in part on her character, while Bloom, for all intents and purposes, is just playing Legolas with substantially fewer badass points.

It's a shame that neither of these screenhogs really bring their A-game here as much as I might enjoy Bloom's Westley-esque bumbling swordsman facade, but it's more than made up for in Depp's performance who I think finally finds his defining character amidst all the oddballs in his resume.

Sparrow's just a lot of fun to have around, he seems to be in a perpetual state of semi-drunkenness which belies moments of intellectual clarity and this contrast blends well with his drawl which fleets between ignoring conjunctions and word salad. His unpredictability, which is even directly referenced, is exactly what makes him an interesting character, and he becomes particularly enjoyable when his self-absorbed demeanor becomes generous and even self-deprecating. Even more so than Swan and Will is how well he plays off of the sterner antagonists like Norrington and Barbossa who don't suffer his ****, but aren't one-dimensional enough to refuse his suggestions entirely out of hand.

"I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means 'no'."

Frankly, I enjoyed both of them as well, more so than Swan and Will too. I think the biggest issue here is simply that Swan is little more than a damsel in distress and Will is the love-stricken apprentice whose presence inexplicably fades in the wake of Sparrow who isn't even terribly dominating.

Altogether the movies has a couple genuine chuckle moments while delivering a hearty pirate tale complete with a naval battles, sea shanties, plenty of booty, and a touch of superstition.

Besides all of the animals that were dragged into the film, I'd have to say the worst part is just the overall weak romance central to our two protagonists. Beyond that the story stumbles over a few plotbeats.

Why do the pirates care that Swan drops the medallion in the water when we find out later they can just walk underwater and pick it up?

Why does Norrington reject the idea of interrogating Sparrow over the Black Pearl's whereabouts because the pirates "are not his allies"? That's EXACTLY why he would help you!

What the hell was Will doing before he trapped himself in his own sinking ship? It reminded me of Lois Lane nearly drowning herself in Batman v Superman.

What's with the curse wounds? Barbossa shot while flesh suffers his gunshot wound after he's un-cursed, and at least one other pirate dies the same while bones, so why doesn't Jack die? He got stabbed in the chest so doesn't it stand to reason that he suffer that chest wound once he's been un-cursed too?

I suspect this is excusable if, as implied with the bomb right before in the same scene, that stepping out of moonlight will "heal" bone to flesh, which would mean Jack would've healed from his gunshot wound as soon as he stepped back out of moonlight, but this is a VERY loose inference given all the information we have. The movie makes a specific judgment based on not-entirely-established rules and that always feels a bit cheap in movies.

Anyway, I thought it was fun and, in my opinion, the source of the last really memorable blockbuster character prior to Heath Ledger's Joker.

Final Verdict:
[Pretty Good]