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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
2003 - PG-13 - Mins.
Director: Gore Verbinski
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Written By: Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Jack Davenport, Jonathan Pryce
Review by: Greg Ursic
   
Say “Pirate Movie” in a crowded theater and you’re likely to be facing a mutiny or a stampede, and for good reason: the rollicking adventures popularized by Robert Louis Stevenson and brought to life by Errol Flynn have, of late been replaced by overblown soulless drivel along the lines of Polanski’s “Pirates” or “Cutthroat Island”. Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp to the rescue.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is quite likely the unluckiest pirate alive: after having suffered the ignominy of mutiny and being marooned, he finds his way to port in the one town that has a serious hate on for pirates. If that weren’t enough to spoil his already bad day, Sparrow is thrown back into the fray when he promises young Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) that he will help rescue Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), the young woman kidnapped by Sparrow’s old enemies. Oh, and there’s that pesky little curse to contend with…

Let me state from the outset - this is a fantastic movie that epitomizes what a summer movie should be. It features oodles of action – both in the form of swashbuckling sword fights and big time explosions, is packed full of accessible humor, boasts great special effects (note: not gratuitous), has beautiful and eerie locations, nasty villains, reformed heroes and fantastic performances. Am I making it clear that I liked this movie?

Orlando Bloom is solidly low key in his first post “Lord of the Rings” outing, and makes good use of the martial skills he leaned while filming the trilogy. His character is equal parts tragic and noble, and he balances these the facets well. While Elizabeth could be rightly classified as the obligatory damsel-in-distress of the piece, she most certainly is not helpless – Knightley brings the same determined empowerment that she displayed in “Bend it Like Beckham”. You have to give props to any woman who can act and kick butt while bound in a corset and frilly fluffy dresses (and yet somehow manages to look even more beautiful while doing so – forgive me, I’m only human…). Geoffrey Rush is deliciously devilish as Captain Barossa the dark hearted scoundrel of the piece, the, who dispenses death the with a smile. You know he’s bad just by looking at the man’s teeth! And then there’s the Depp factor.

Johnny Depp could long ago have been a major Hollywood star – he certainly has the charisma, the drive and enough talent for a few careers – however he’s made a conscious decision to stick with character driven films, which are often only found in artsy or edgy films. Thankfully he chose to tackle this role with the same fervor– Depp is hilarious as John Sparrow, the glib roguish pirate cursed with a streak of goodness and bad luck, who seemingly dances between madness and lucidity. To say that his portrayal binds the film would not be indulging in hyperbole, as he brings all the elements of the story and the characters together. Is that all there is you might ask? Not even close.


****Okay, I’m going to give you a warning here – if you haven’t seen the trailers some potential spoilers lay ahead****.


The CGI work in this films is remarkable on several fronts: the film does not rely upon them, they are not excessive and they actually enhance the film. The characters’ transition from human to skeleton and back (there sequences are rapid and many) are amazingly fluid and realistic. Need more? The swordfighting are beautifully choreographed, the city sets are brilliant, the pyrotechnics in the battle scenes are pure Buckheimer (read: big, loud, and many) and the film is also fit for the youngsters.

If you’re in the market for a film that will appeal to anyone between the ages of 5 to 95 , look no further.
 
Movie Guru Rating
A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic.
  5 out of 5 stars

 
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