of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Walt
Disney Pictures presents a film directed by Gore Verbinski.
Written by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio and Jay Wolpert.
Running time: 134 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for violence).
Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley,
Jack Davenport, Jonathan Pryce.
of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
the moment it was announced I knew that Pirates of the
Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl would be a bad
movie. Just look at the signs:
1. It's based on a forty-year-old ride at Walt Disney World,
making this the most desperate plea for cash I've ever seen.
2. Jerry Bruckheimer is the producer. The name Jerry Bruckheimer
is not a good sign.
3. The name is way too long and clunky. It reeks of juvenile
as you can see, all of the signs point towards a crappy movie
thrown into theaters to make a quick buck. But I can be wrong.
In this case, I was. Pirates of the Caribbean is not
terrible. It's not even bad. In fact, it's really quite good.
I know, I'm as surprised as you are.
capsule description of the plot would work like this: Captain
Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is an infamous pirate. Captured
after rescuing a damsel, Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley),
from drowning, he his arrested by her father (Jonathan Pryce),
and her would-be fiancee (Jack Davenport). He escapes, but
after losing a duel to blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom),
he is caught again. When the town is attacked by the crew
of the pirate ship Black Pearl, its captain, Captain
Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), kidnaps Elizabeth. Will is in love
with Elizabeth, and he springs Jack from prison in order to
track down the Black Pearl. Swashbuckling ensues.
hasn't been a good pirate movie in a long while. So it's certainly
refreshing to see one that's well-made, despite being involved
with Jerry Bruckheimer. In fact, none of the problems that
plague Bruckheimer-produced films are abound in Pirates
of the Caribbean. Let's take a look at Bruckheimer's problems,
and how Pirates of the Caribbean compares.
of the Caribbean
is not going to go down as the best-acted movie of the year,
but Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow will go down as one of the
year's most memorable and impressive performances. It is the
kind of performance that deserves an Oscar nomination but
will, undoubtably, not get one, because of the nature of the
film. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are effective, and
they make a decent couple. Geoffrey Rush is also good, in
a delightfully over the top performance.
And Stupid Writing:
was the aspect of Pirates of the Caribbean that I was
most worried about. I had some serious doubts that it would
be possible to create a compelling motion picture based on
a Disney ride. Luckily, they pulled it off. The script is
light-hearted and fun, and while it isn't really wonderful
writing, it is effective. The plot is simple, but it works.
Effects In Place Of A Story:
mentioned just above, the story is not original, but it is
effective at what it does. The special effects, firstly, are
not perfect. Some of the skeletons' animations look downright
goofy, but overall, they work. And other than the undead,
most of the movie is largely effects free. There is never
a sense that the effects are being used to cover up the lack
of any coherant plot.
Verbinski (last year's The Ring) is a much more capable
director than has previously worked with Bruckheimer, even
if his filmography doesn't really show it. Atmosphere plays
a large part in Pirates of the Caribbean, and it is
all handled very well. There are no bright, flashy colors,
and not a superfluous split-screen to be found. In fact, there
is only one true quick cut in the entire production. Yet again,
it isn't one of the best directing jobs of the year, but it
is still good.
there are no Bruckheimer-style problems to be found, but that
doesn't mean there aren't any at all. The movie runs a good
thirty minutes too long, for one - the long fight scenes with
the undead (who can't be killed, by the way) become repetitive,
and you begin to wonder why the protaginists are even trying
any more - and the denouement is a bit on the weak side.
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean would still not
have been bad, but it would have been significantly less fun.
WIth Depp, it is an excellent example of summer film-making,
and undoubtedly the surprise hit of 2003. Pirates of the
Caribbean will be one of the big money-makers of 2003,
and, unlike many summer films, it will certainly deserve it.
And, if you're interested in another ride-related movie, The
Haunted Mansion comes out this Thanksgiving. And it looks
terrible too. But who knows?
2003 Matt Noller