Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ★★★★½

"This is either madness... or brilliance."
"It's remarkable how often those two traits coincide."

Yes, you saw that rating right. After watching this movie during my childhood and the entire series again a few years ago, I had mostly forgotten about the story, gave most of the films average ratings and mostly dismissed the series due to the increasing mediocrity and redundancy of the sequels following the original film that were mostly created to milk more money out of this franchise. Frankly, it is fair to say that I had completely forgotten about what a great fantasy adventure film the original Pirates of the Caribbean is in its own right.

The story is an imaginative and captivating blend of different genres, bringing horror, fantasy, action, adventure, comedy and romance together within the subgenre of the swashbuckler film whose popularity had never really inspired the huge box office success stories that Pirates of the Caribbean would eventually entail. Its tonal variations work well, as director Gore Verbinski manages to balance comedy and action in a way that never loses track of the story's sense of adventure and the development of unique and memorable characters.

Which brings me to the acting. Johnny Depp has been the center of the praise for this film for a long time, and really delivers a stunning turn even when you might argue that he was 'just acting drunk'. He brings so much personality to his layered character and turns the role of Jack Sparrow into an iconic role that has become interminably embroiled in pop culture. Geoffrey Rush and Jonathan Pryce deliver on the promise of their acting talents beyond their deployment as comic relief. As for Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, the undeniably sappy heart of the romantic subplot, I enjoy their presence a lot in this film, even though I remember feeling rather annoyed by their characters upon previous viewings. Knightley in particular manages to infuse her character with personality and versatility, and proves to be a wonderful addition to the cast ensemble.

The real standout has always been Klaus Badelt's score (developed under Hans Zimmer's producing eye). It frames the movie and drives the narrative along, even enhancing it thanks to interesting editing choices. The editing does not always work in some instances, as some scene cuts feel rushed and needlessy accelerated, but then, the film is probably already long enough as it is. There are some jumps in the story that make it obvious that scenes have been cut from the final result, which brought me out of the experience at times. However, I still loved this rewatch and decided to bump my rating from 3.5 to 4.5 stars, simply because I enjoyed it that much for being such a well-developed fantasy adventure. I'm curious to see how well the sequels hold up for me whenever I rewatch them. Today, it was the perfect choice to watch for me after an exhausting day at work.

2003 Ranked
Gore Verbinski's Films Ranked

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