Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

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

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is one of those movies where I can acknowledge its flaws, but still love the good parts enough to give it a perfect score anyway. The romance is certainly weak, and the 143-minute runtime is almost as overlong as the title. In particular, there are 20 minutes of talking between two pirate battles that should have been trimmed—as it is, things drag a bit.

But I don’t really care, because the rest of the movie is incredibly fun, mostly thanks to Johnny Depp’s iconic, Oscar-nominated quirky performance as Captain Jack Sparrow. Despite his dreadful work in the first sequel, Dead Man’s Chest (and the others, I am told, though I haven’t seen them) here he is magnetic, creative and full of comic power. There are few movie characters I enjoy more than Sparrow, with his slurred line deliveries and loopy physical comedy, always relying on luck and trickery to succeed against all odds. I could watch him all day and not get bored.

Of course, there’s more to the film than Depp, but the film seems like it was built from the ground up to showcase his inventive performance, even if that wasn’t the case. Everything from the script (by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio), to Gore Vebrinski’s direction, to a top-to-bottom terrific cast (especially Geoffrey Rush’s florid villain) do a fantastic job at shifting between witty banter, goofy visual gags, thrilling action, and outright horror involving zombie pirates (this was Disney's first PG-13 film). The film balances all these elements almost perfectly, mingling and varying them so that it’s never boring. Sometimes the combination of action and comedy is truly stupendous, as when the immortal pirates suffer ludicrous injuries (horror mixed with slapstick!). All fits perfectly with Depp’s erratic and delightfully anachronistic portrayal (Keith Richards was an influence).

The action scenes are effectively high-spirited, the music is infectiously swashbuckling (written by about a dozen different composers, but the bulk by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer), the visuals effects are flawless, and the entire cast doesn’t miss a beat (with the exception of Orlando Bloom in the romantic scenes). Sometimes you just want to be swept off your feet and entertained for two hours, and although it may not speak to the human condition, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl does that like almost nothing else out there.

10/10

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