Weekend Movie Review – “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl”

Four score and negative seventy six years ago, Disney adapted two of its Disneyland attractions for the big screen. This is the one that worked.

Cast and Crew Information

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa
Orlando Bloom as Will Turner
Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann
Jack Davenport as Captain/Commodore Norrington
Jonathan Pryce as Governer Weatherby Swann

Written by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert
Directed by Gore Verbinski

Availability Information

Available on DVD from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.
Available on Blu-Ray from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.
As this is a Buena Vista film, it will not be available on HD DVD.

Premise

A governer’s daughter and the blacksmith who loves her become entangled in a long time feud between Captain Jack Sparrow and his former pirate crew.

High Point

The introduction of Captain Jack Sparrow may be one of the best character introductions in the history of cinema. Anything that edges out the fight in the blacksmith shop as a high point has got to be good. I’m amazed to this day that it didn’t win that year’s MTV Award for best fight. How it wasn’t nominated when “Bringing Down The House” was blows my mind. More on this later.

Low Point

This is an event so close to the end that I have to spoiler guard it: The shot didn’t go all the way through Barbossa? Clearly, judging by the damage done to the others that didn’t last, the offending object must still be lodged in the pirate for the damage to be permanent. A shot from a weapon even that old should have gone through a dry skeleton easily. Why not create the tension of precise timing by having Sparrow and Turner coordinate to lift the curse just before the shot, so there is no doubt left?

The Review

The originality usually suffers for adaptations, but given that the source material is an amusement park ride, it should also get credit for being the first movie to think of mining this source for material. (It wasn’t the first released, but there was almost a decade delay between conception and realization.) I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects are great. The numerous smooth transitions between live action and CGI skeletons are among these, but certainly not the full extent of them. Most importantly, it’s rarely easy to tell exactly where the live action ends and the CGI begins. (There are moments that are clearly CGI, but it’s hard to tell exactly when the live action is replaced.) I give it 6 out of 6.

The story is fairly well developed, moving the characters forward. Some parts are overly simplistic, such as Elizabeth’s immediate recognition of the medallian as a pirate artifact, while the medallian’s owner had no idea of the meaning and an unexplained extreme and irrational hatred of pirates. However, none of those moments are severe enough to prevent the enjoyment of the movie. Go in looking for a fun action flick, and not Shakespeare, and you’ll leave satisfied. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting is well done. Depp deserved his awards and nominations, and his surrounding cast members also turned in respectable work. Jonathan Pryce is always excellent. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is where things like editing, lighting, and fight choreography come into play. I promised I’d come back to the blacksmith fight, and here’s the spot: this is one of the few combat sequences I’ve seen that makes effective use of the entire space, including the rafters. The sword clashes are frequently synchronized with the musical score, as well. The level of detail involved easily surpasses most other fight sequences in film, and similar attention to detail can be found throughout the rest of the production. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is good. It’s a fun, comedic action flick that doesn’t go overboard on the language and gore. If you want to kick back and have a good time, you could do a heck of a lot worse. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s an easy flick to recommend. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl receives 36 out of 42.

9 replies on “Weekend Movie Review – “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl””

  1. chad says:

    My take on the whole trilogy
    I really enjoyed this first movie in the trilogy. In my opinion, it pretty much carried the other two. I found the second movie to be so-so, and the third one to be just bizarre–with a severely twisted and over-complicated plot. All three movies had good effects and some good one-liners, but Curse of the Black Pearl is probably the only one I would recommend.

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    • Timeshredder says:

      Originality

      it should also get credit for being the first movie to think of mining this source for material.

      I’m picking a nit here, but Goonies was inspired by the very same ride. Perhaps you should write, "the first good movie to…."

      • fiziko says:

        Re: Originality

        I’m picking a nit here, but Goonies was inspired by the very same ride. Perhaps you should write, "the first good movie to…."

        I wasn’t aware of that. I knew only of this and The Country Bears.

        • Alexius says:

          Re: Originality

          I’m picking a nit here, but Goonies was inspired by the very same ride. Perhaps you should write, "the first good movie to…."

          I wasn’t aware of that. I knew only of this and The Country Bears.

          I thought the other was the Haunted Mansion…

          • fiziko says:

            Re: Originality

            I thought the other was the Haunted Mansion…

            That was released six months after Pirates. I was referring to those that were released before.

    • Grounded says:

      Re: My take on the whole trilogy

      I really enjoyed this first movie in the trilogy. In my opinion, it pretty much carried the other two. I found the second movie to be so-so, and the third one to be just bizarre–with a severely twisted and over-complicated plot. All three movies had good effects and some good one-liners, but Curse of the Black Pearl is probably the only one I would recommend.

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      Couldn’t agree more. I saw At World’s End for the first time last night and it felt far removed from the fun and sheer exuberance of Black Pearl.

      • Timeshredder says:

        Re: My take on the whole trilogy

        Couldn’t agree more. I saw At World’s End for the first time last night and it felt far removed from the fun and sheer exuberance of Black Pearl.

        Nothing like Hollywood for running a good idea into the ground.

        • PuppetSocko says:

          This is in no way a site author posting under another name

          Great review! And I totally think that you guys should post that review of Galactica: Razor now even though it’s a review of the full three-hour version that won’t be available until next week.

          *whistles inconspicuously*

    • Tekzel says:

      Re: My take on the whole trilogy

      I really enjoyed this first movie in the trilogy. In my opinion, it pretty much carried the other two. I found the second movie to be so-so, and the third one to be just bizarre–with a severely twisted and over-complicated plot. All three movies had good effects and some good one-liners, but Curse of the Black Pearl is probably the only one I would recommend.

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      Check out Chad’s News

      I almost agree with you. The first one was an all around great movie, I had no problems with it. The second one, I could never put my finger on it, but it was just off. I didn’t HATE it, but didn’t like it either. It was just… there. The third one, I felt, got back to what made the first one so good, the feel of an epic adventure. I really liked the third one a lot, almost as much as the first one.

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