Written by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
Running Time: 2:23
as Jack Sparrow
Take away maybe 25-30 minutes from its running time, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a pretty good swashbuckling adventure film. Full of action, great special effects and a lot of humor, Pirates of the Caribbean is fun for the whole family.
The Black Pearl is a pirate ship that has been terrorizing the Caribbeanfor years. The crew is cursed to live in a world between life and death, with no chance to feel, taste or touch anything real. In order to break the curse, they must put back all 882 gold coins they stole from the treasure chest of Cortez himself. For years they've been tracking down all the gold (having spent it on wine, women and song in the meantime), and they've finally found the last one, around the neck of Elizabeth Swann. But not only do they need the gold, they need the blood of one of their former mates, and they thing Swann has his blood. But in fact the blood belongs to Will Turner, and he'd do anything to make sure Elizabeth isn't harmed. Aiding him in his endeavor is the former captain of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow, who hasn't been himself these past few years. Together they fight both the pirates and the military who wants Sparrow hung for being a pirate himself.
With a running time of 143 minutes, Pirates of the Caribbean is a bit longer than it needs to be. The story has its twists and turns but nothing that needed that much time to play out. If they had taken out half an hour from the film, this would have been a rollicking great time. The action sequences were fast and furious with a lot of swordfighting and cannons going off everywhere. There was a lot more comedy than I expected, most of it coming thanks to Johnny Depp's portrayal of Captain Sparrow. Sparrow seems to be close to completely losing his mind, so everything he says and does it a little off, which makes for a very funny character. Orlando Bloom, no stranger to epic battles, holds his own against the star quality of Depp and this film can only help Bloom launch into another level of film star. Keira Knightley easily has 'next big thing' tattooed on her forehead as she's a bigger, better looking version of Natalie Portman, although not with the same acting chops. But she'll be going places, rest assured.
The special effects in this movie were tremendous. Not because they were groundbreaking; we've all seen skeletons fighting before; but mostly in how seamless it all was. I use the word seamless a lot these days because of the huge amount of special effect films that come out on a weekly basis, but Pirates of the Caribbean truly takes it to another level. Even with the pristine digital image I was watching, I couldn't find one single special effect that looked fake. The transformation from skeleton to human and back again was perfect and no matter how little moonlight there was, there were no mistakes. The movements of the skeletons had an eerie human-like quality to them as well. There were only two sequences (long ones mind you) that used the skeletons, but when they were there, they were impressive.
People were worried that a pirate/swashbuckling film like this wouldn't work well, and they kept comparing it to the big flop Cutthroat Island (which I was fortunate enough to see opening weekend). But let's be realistic. Cutthroat Island wasn't a bad movie, but any action film that stars Matthew Modine and Gena Davis isn't going to work, no matter how good it looks or what the story is. The characters of Captain Sparrow and Will Turner seemed written for Depp and Bloom. They seemed much more believable than Modine and Davis ever could in this kind of film. This is one of those instances where casting meant a lot.
Since the movie was based on a Disney ride, I loved seeing the little things from the ride that got thrown into the movie. If you know the ride well, you'll see a bunch of little things. The most obvious being the scene where four men are behind bars, whistling for a dog, who has keys in his mouth, to come over to them. That's one of the classic scenes from the ride. A lot of the scenery looked like it was lifted straight from the ride, which, if you're a fan of Disney, will make the movie that much more fun. I only wish when I had been at Disneyland a few weeks back, I had gotten a chance to go on the ride. But when you're with a group of 7 people, majority rules... So sad.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I would definitely recommend Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as a fun, family film. There's a lot of action, humor, special effects and even a love story thrown in, so there's something for everyone. Oh yeah, and after the (long) credits roll, there is another few seconds of film, so stick around.
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