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
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.
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.
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 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.