Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

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

God only knows how many times I've watched this yet each viewing is like the first. It's 2003 again and I'm begrudgingly sitting down to watch some movie about a goddamn amusement park ride and being met with the most perfectly constructed, airtight movie on this scale since Die Hard. You could bounce a quarter off of Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio's script, with each little character quirk adding something and its callbacks cleverly employed as recurring gags that pay off (remember when jokes played off the circumstances of characters and story rather than a bunch of external pop culture references?). Then there's Gore Verbinski, who puts in what is probably still his purest demonstration of making the most visually overcomplicated movies possible while also choosing each image and motion with such precision that there never seems to be any wasted information. Action sequences are intricately choreographed and filmed in such a way to show off that choreography rather than bury it in a flurry of coverage cuts, and even scenes of pure info dump says as much through their composition and tone as dialogue. A high-water mark of blockbuster filmmaking that has only been glimpsed since in the 2010s Mission Impossible movies and Fury Road.