Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

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

"It's funny to me over the summer when these big blockbuster action movies come out, you know? And you'll read about one movie, one of these movies, and it'll say that it cost something like one hundred million dollars. Because whenever I read that I think like 'Yeah, uh, you didn't need to make a movie with that money.' I would've bought a ticket just to see one hundred million dollars. Like, I am at a point in my life where I would wait on a line just to look at that much cash."

I hope John Mulaney has seen these, as theme park ride cinema like this is the closest the medium comes to his dream entertainment. All the strings are visible, every actor hams it up as an animatronic period archetype, and the set pieces are packed in one after the other, each thick and rich and mass-produced as oatmeal. Fitting that a movie about the magnetism of scoundrels who plunder the ruling class (leeching from them while reliant on them) and stick by their codes (until they don't) refuses to be pinned down as any prior form of corporate-fueled entertainment while still remaining recognizable as corporate-fueled entertainment. Cohesion and narrative are thrown to the wayside as the film constantly sidetracks along tangents to leave its arcs perpetually unresolved (note the abrupt cut out of the opening flashback or how Will and Elizabeth would've boned by the thirty minute mark if we didn't have to show off crowds of extras in elaborate garb or a naval battle using utensils as projectiles). It's never not in motion, but the uninvolving melodrama sullies the roller coaster highs, dragging the film into lazy river humdrum. Every cent expended is boastfully visible though, flaunting its excessive use of resources and hours of labor like some sort of freakish real estate mogul featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not. That aspect is almost entertaining enough, but wouldn't it be more impressive for such a proudly expensive film to clock in at two hours rather than two and a half? Just how much cash can you squeeze into each frame, Verbinski? I want to see you sweat.

JKM liked this review