Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

The characters move from location to location and the plot loops back on itself until ending where it began, just like a roller coaster. Production design looks dirty enough that it's believable but artificial enough to assure the audience this is all in good fun, befitting the tone. Still moves better than almost anything that's tried to emulate it. Electric pacing which never sags despite lots of playfully circuitous dialogue. Verbinski would top himself with the sequels and The Lone Ranger in his staging of madcap comedic action and weird tomfoolery but there's plenty of both qualities present here. Detractors of the second and third films wanted a simplistic swashbuckler with only one supernatural element. The problem, as always, is these people settle for less and fail to understand what makes the movie they love an enduring classic. It's Verbinski's willingness to shake up the stale pirate formula yet stay true to the genre's roots of freedom and adventure. The Curse of the Black Pearl lays the foundation and builds the scaffolding for a dense mythology that rivals anything else developed in 21st century cinema.

Verbinski understands that movies are not books, they are a visual medium. His trilogy crafts a silly but ultimately meaningful story filled with memorable characters and gags while engaging the audience's senses. He recruits them along for the journey as a nearly active participant. Many other large-scale filmmakers have tried and failed to pull off this feat of immersion while avoiding collapse into ponderous boredom or niche entertainment. Utilizing the full resources of the world's biggest studio at a time right before it started churning out IP legacy material and capeshit to assemble a gargantuan epic that stands for everything Disney hates (except solid return on investment). The Curse of the Black Pearl was uncharted waters before release, predicted to flop; looking back on it now, the film pays tribute to a lost age. There's a steadfast refusal to pander or dumb it down a shade. Disney made popular art back when Walt was alive as an entrepreneurial driving force with an eye for talent; since then, the studio has only accidentally allowed anything great to be distributed in its name.

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