PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
R, matey! Sure and this be a tale of pirates and treasure. Treasure that is neither sunken or buried or even wanted! R, but I'm getting ahead o' me'self!
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: The Curse of the Black Pearl begins in the past, where we spy a young lass standin' on the deck of some ship, gazing out at the early morning, fog enshrouded waters, o' the briney sea! O' course, it may not be a sea at all, might be an ocean. Tis never made clear and makes no never mind. What matters is that she's a hankerin' for a Pirate, she is! She and her Father (Jonathan Pryce: SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, HAUNTED HONEYMOON, BRAZIL), the new Governor of some remote possession of the crown, are in the midst of their journey to nebulous shores when, before you can say, "Shiver me timbers, thar's a carpenter ant or possibly a termite a' makin' lunch o' me wooden leg, by cracky!" she spies a young boy adrift on a piece o' flotsam.
They bring the lad aboard and let the girl tend to him. I and thar's where she espies his medallion! Sure and it's a gold thing, a skull on a coin and in her surprise she whispers "Pirate!". To save the young unconscious lad from possible punishment by the stern Leftenant Norrington (Jack Davenport: THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY), she snatches the coin/necklace away and hides it.
Merry mishaps occur.
8 years later and the young girl has grown into a fine young wench named Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). The boy, remembering little about his past, has grown into a fine skinny twerp called Will Turner (Orlando Bloom: THE LORD OF THE RINGS), and works as a blacksmith. He has a knack for making all kinds of swords and knives but, apart from that, he's a milksop, who can't bring himself to tell Elizabeth ... that is, tell her how... er... well, no matter, because by this time Will has hemmed and hawed for so long that the elevated Captain Norrington has taken a shine to the lass and wants her for himself. Who is she to say no when the one she really wants can't stop being such a freaking washout that he still refers to her as "Miss Swann"?
Now sailing into the harbor this day, standing tall and proud on the highest mast of his dinghy, is none other than the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, FREDDY'S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE, THE NINTH GATE, THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE, SLEEPY HOLLOW, CORPSE BRIDE).
Meanwhile, Elizabeth is trying to make the best of an over-tight corset while newly minted "Commodore" Norrington musters up the courage, as he goes through a verbal résumé of why he's a good catch, to ask for her hand. In marriage, yes.
The too tight corset does her in and, losing her balance at a very bad place, she falls off a parapet of the governor's mansion and into the rocky waters below, missing the jagged edges by nths!
The ever unbalanced Captain Sparrow, trying to negotiate his way through gravity and past some guards, espies the lovely maiden's fall and leaps into the water to rescue her.
But as Elizabeth sinks to the depths, the gold coin around her neck, immersed in brine, sends out a charge as if a beacon. Come that evening, the most infamous of all pirate ships, the Black Pearl, comes stealthy sailing into port: Led by the notorious Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush: HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL ). Cannons at the ready, they don't remain stealthy for long. They seek the gold coin!
As both a ghost story and a light comedy, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: The Curse of the Black Pearl works quite well. Kudos for this go especially to Johnny Depp and Geoffery Rush; two excellent actors that have a flair for bringing life to the most unusual of characters.
Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley turn in fine performances. Orlando's Will Turner desperately wants to be a brave and noble soul, but is overcome by his upbringing as a blacksmith to "know his place". Keira's Elizabeth Swann, also struggles to break out of her "place" and be the fiery warrior woman with the heart of a pirate, that she feels she is. All other actors in this flick just bring up the rear. The focus remains on, and the film works best when, Director Gore Verbinski (THE RING) keeps the lens on Depp and Rush. I would really like to see these two co-star in a few more flicks.
There is some small amount of chemistry between Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley, of course, that may be due to the fact that Keira, with her wide innocent brown eyes, pouty button mouth, and playing a part that is both naive and strong willed, reminds me of a younger Winona Ryder. I'd easily believe that Depp took notice of this himself.
There is also the matter of the Computer Graphic Images (CGI). Finally, there is no blur or phoniness. The close up faces of the skeletal pirates is razor sharp and awesome. Even more stunning are the fight scenes where the pirates go from flesh and blood to musty bones in and out of the shafts of flickering moonlight. The effect looks seamless and kudos must go to the entire team, as led by Ken Estes (THE HITCHER, STAR TREK: NEMESIS), Terry D. Frazee (STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT, STAR TREK: NEMESIS), John Cassella (QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, THE CORE, X2, TERMINATOR 3), Jammie Friday (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: THE DREAM CHILD, ROBOCOP 2, ALIEN 3), and Sean Curran (DEEP BLUE SEA, HULK) to name a few.
Verbinski, hot off his THE RING remake, scores another hit with this flick. Unlike some directors who have a good eye for lavish scenes while dragging their butts from one eventual punch to the next (think Ridley Scott's HANNIBAL), PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: The Curse of the Black Pearl never drags. Every scene is full of story and great dialog. Unfortunately, as good as many of these scenes are, and as good as the dialog is, they are only there to convolute an otherwise simple story.
There are several moments where the story becomes unnecessarily complicated or otherwise filled. The story is only "Pirates want to break their curse by returning stolen treasure and committing a blood sacrifice". But I can see that this is neither Director Verbinski's fault nor screenwriters, Ted Elliot and Terry Russo (who also co-wrote the story and are responsible for, THE PUPPET MASTERS, GODZILLA ), Stuart Beattie, and Jay Wolpert. There are several scenes (and some of the crowd seemed to like them) that are call backs to the actual PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN ride at the Disney theme parks. Though these scenes were sort of fun, they slowed the timing of what is supposed to be a fast paced film. Action, sword fights, pirate battles, and derring do, call for acceleration to the goal, not meandering into pleasant side streets.
Overfilled with story, yet never actually lagging, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: The Curse of the Black Pearl remains fun after repeated theatrical viewing's, and who could ask for more than that? 4 Shriek Girls.
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