PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL


2003

10/10

DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski

It began life as a ride. It became one of the most iconic movie franchises of all time, propelling its stars into the mainstream, particularly Johnny Depp, who many may not remember, though a house hold name but was still only teetering on stardom. Since then, many have disparaged his Keith Richard’s inspired performance as being over top, old hat and just plain overrated, but for the most part, I’m not one of them.

The film’s first two sequels severely damaged the good work done here, but that shouldn’t take away from what Pirates Of The Caribbean has achieved. Pirate films have always been regarded as fun, but when you think about it, there aren’t many striking examples, without going as far back as the 1930’s/40’s with the likes of Errol Flynn and his Sea Hawks to fly the flag for this swashbuckling drama.

But here we are presented with a film which gives us an image of pirates as we would expect, with arrhs! and my heartys!, old ships and more rum than you could ever drink, or want to for that matter. Geoffrey Rush’s, Captain Barbossa is the epitome of the old school pirate, whilst Depp’s, Captain Jack Sparrow is something else all together. Funny and entertaining, he thinks of himself as the worlds best pirate, but in fact is just very, very lucky.

Then we’re presented with Keira Knightly’s, The Governor’s Daughter, and the local blacksmith Orlando Bloom to complete our cast, who spend the next two and half hours trotting through everything you could expect from such a film, only doing it so well that it feels original. And that’s because it actually was.

We have never had a pirate film like this before. Visually stunning, with everything you’d expect from a Bruckheimer blockbuster with perfect pacing, action, adventure and drama, though notably, not so much drama that it becomes bogged down by it, as its sequels did.

Its tongue was firmly in its cheek and it knew what it was, though the audience had yet to learn. This is a film that never tried to be anything but what you saw on the screen and that was fun, exiting family entertainment, universally acceptable for all ages without compromising anything. This is certainly one of the templates for how to make films of this sort and it’s a crying shame that its ill begotten sequels, with the exception of On Stranger Tides,  didn’t follow it.

I remember that Johnny Depp was nominated for an Oscar in 2004 for his portrayal of Sparrow and many people scoffed at the idea. I didn’t. Depp broke into the big leagues with this and it was well deserved after years of hard work and many great performances, though the character is a sight gag and will only work for so long. It may well have already passed…

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