Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – 4 Stars (Excellent)
“The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” is hands down the best pirate movie ever made, earning 5 Oscar nominations, and Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow delivered the best pirate performance ever. Johnny Depp looks and acts like a very likeable pirate, and his wearing of the costume and persona is second to none.
Most pirate films rely heavily on the story line and action to carry the film, but Johnny Depp trumps the story line and action in creating a centerpiece character around which only good things happen.
Every cast member and the story itself become better beside Depp who appears as if this role was waiting for him to arrive and become a superstar entertainer and box office smash.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl captured and held my imagination from beginning to end. Even the supernatural in the film seems believable and real; the film under the direction of Gore Verbinski is that well done.
The story is really about Captain Jack Sparrow losing his ship (The Black Pearl), and embarking on a quest to find and win The Black Pearl back from his rival, Captain Hector Barbossa (played by Geoffrey Rush) who has pirated the ship away and left Captain Jack marooned on an island.
Along the way Captain Jack survives his banishment and helps save Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly), Governor Weatherby Swann’s (Jonathan Pryce) daughter, who is kidnapped by Captain Barbossa.
Also chasing Elizabeth is the dashing Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith who enlists the aid of Captain Jack Sparrow to find his lifelong love. Bloom is chasing Elizabeth, but Captain Jack is really chasing the treasure that Barbossa found first. Barbossa and his crew spent the treasure—882 Aztec coins—only to find it cursed, rendering them immortal skeletal beings whose true forms are only revealed in the moonlight.
The curse can only be lifted by returning every coin taken from the chest with a droplet of each pirate’s blood. None of those chasing Captain Barbossa and his crew know that they are under a curse. Elizabeth has 1 of the 882 coins, which she took from Will when he was rescued at sea. Before the chase is over, Will also gains back his coin and tries to use it to bargain for Elizabeth’s freedom.
Barbossa takes Will to Isla de Muerta (Spanish for Island of the Dead) to break the curse. In an ensuing fight, Captain Jack and Will manage to break the curse. Barbossa returns to being mortal and Captain Jack shoots and kills him.
And the end? Will reunites with Elizabeth and Captain Jack returns to his Black Pearl and freedom. What could be better? Under the direction of Verbinski, the movie is filled with interesting characters who collectively help make this film great entertainment.
Among the characters are Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally), Jack Sparrow’s friend and first mate; Pintel (Lee Arenberg), a seedy looking pirate aboard the Black Pearl; Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook), Pintel’s buddy with a wooden eye that never seems to stay in place; and Murtogg (Giles New) and Mullroy (Angus Barnett), a couple of Royal Navy inept goofballs.
The Curse of the Black Pearl has great writing, directing, acting, photography, suspense, action, surprise and a musical score to match. It was Depp who improvised Jack Sparrow’s catch phrase, “Savvy?”, which has already become legend in the movie world.
Depp earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination following release of the film in 2003, but did not win, mainly because he chooses not to live in Hollywood and practice the art of kissing up, sucking up, and putting on a public display of importance.
The Curse of the Black Pearl also received Oscar nominations for Best Makeup, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects. Despite its 5 nominations, it did not win a single Oscar.
Credit Verbinski with hanging tough. He was attracted to the idea of using modern technology to resurrect a genre that had disappeared after the Golden Age of Hollywood. Depp was attracted to the story because it was quirky: rather than trying to find treasure the crew of the Black Pearl was trying to return it in order to break its curse.
After researching 18th Century pirates, Depp compared them to modern rock stars and decided to base his performance on his friend Keith Richards, playing Captain Jack in an off-kilter manner.
Disney executives were apparently confused, asking Depp whether his character was drunk or gay, and Michael Eisner even proclaimed “He’s ruining the film” when watching rushes.
Depp shot back, saying “Look, these are the choices I made. You know my work. So either trust me or give me the boot.”
Eisner wised up and took his head out of his backside. The Curse of the Black Pearl grossed approximately $47 million opening weekend before doing $305 million in the United States and $654 million worldwide, becoming the 4th highest grossing film of 2003.
The Curse of the Black Pearl became the 22nd highest grossing film in USA film history at the time, pretty improbable for a pirate flick, but then there is Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.
I have seen this film three times and would see it a fourth, which is really saying something for me.