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

Alan:

Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:1/2


Warning, major plot points revealed!

Everyone likes pirates, but it's unusual to see them in a good movie.  The last pirate that I really liked in a movie was the Dread Pirate Roberts in 1987's The Princess Bride.  I'm also reluctant about movies based on Disney theme park rides (in all honesty I did not even give The Country Bears a chance) but the preview for The Haunted Mansion coming this fall and starring Eddie Murphy looked kind of funny.  Perhaps this whole new Disney theme park ride/movie genre will be better than my jaded view allows me to believe.

For all it's giant Jerry Bruckheimer bluster and 130 million dollar budget Pirates of the Caribbean is not a bad movie at all.  The fact that it is competing successfully in a summer crowded with tons of action movies and other assorted stupid-fun thrill films is further proof that Pirates is a better film than most people anticipated.  I loved this movie and was entertained for every second.

The story, based on the ride at Disney, tells the tale of Jack Sparrow, former Captain of the greatest pirate ship in the Caribbean- The Black Pearl.  After a mutiny by his crew, Barbossa (his former first mate) takes control of the ship and leads the crew to damnation as they plunder a chest of cursed gold coins.  The pirates now live in a limbo between life and death and their only purpose is to reverse the curse.  The last coin is in the possession of the beautiful Elizabeth, who is loved by a humble blacksmith named Will Turner with a pirate legacy of his own.  Together with Captain Jack, Will must pursue the pirates who have taken his girl and Jack's ship.

The special effects are cool and can be enjoyed by kids as well as adults.  The moonlight shows the pirates as decomposing corpses and this effect is really the centerpiece of the film.  Especially during the neat sword fights that take place in and out of the moonbeams.   The pirate ships themselves are good effects shots too and the cannon attack on the city near the beginning of the film and a ship to ship battles are like combat candy.  The action level is high for a film that takes place in the 17th century and the momentum of the story never falters.

Johnny Depp loves taking on eccentric roles and this is definitely another success in his ongoing pantheon of absurdity.  His Captain Jack is supposedly a combination of Keith Richards and Pepe LePew.  Regardless of his inspirational choices he is a fun character to watch and imbiggens every scene in which he appears in a very cromulent way.  Orlando Bloom (or Legolas, as he will forever be known) plays Will Turner as the perfect cool action guy thrust into a heroic situation.  After his work with the bow and arrow in Lord of the Rings, it's fun to watch his accomplished swordplay.  Keira Knightley, last seen in Bend it Like Beckham is a super-cute new actor who will probably be around for a while as her star seems to be on the rise.  Geoffrey Rush is funny and menacing as Captain Barbossa.  I'm not a huge fan of his but I do like him in this movie. 

As I said, this is a fun movie.  I do recommend it.  It's sort of like a theme park ride without the 2 hour line. 

 

Note:  I have a friend named Will Turner at EDS who is now able to go into any toy store in the world and get an cool action figure of Orlando Bloom that bears his name.  I'm insanely jealous.  I do not hold out too much hope that an action hero named Alan Wiseman will ever appear on film  :(