Ryster’s review published on Letterboxd:
Here's the thing with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, I honestly didn't think it would've held up. This was one of my absolute favourite movies growing up and the character of Captain Jack Sparrow was one of the best. I had all the toys, the games, even had a face painting kit that did not sit well with my face. Didn't matter that I was terrified by Barbossa and his crew or that it was longer than the average kids film I'd watch, I loved it. Then the second one came out and, along with Finding Nemo, it's one of my earliest cinema memories. I kinda lost interest when they decided to go epic for number three and I've never even seen four. So when I planned on watching the series again, I wasn't really looking forward to it. It didn't interest me the same. Johnny Depp used to be one of my faves but Sparrow's became so popular that he's became more of a caricature than anything else. I shouldn't have worried about the original though, because it's blockbuster filmmaking at its finest and still takes you on a swashbuckling journey unlike anything else.
Captain Jack Sparrow sets foot on Port Royal with the intention of commandeering a ship and setting out to take back his infamous ship, The Black Pearl. He's unfortunately thrown into saving the governor's daughter, Elizabeth Swann, and ends up in a prison cell. Later that night, the town is taking over by ruthless pirates, kidnapping Elizabeth. It's not just any pirates, but the crew of The Black Pearl. The only person crazy enough to set things straight, the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow.
Johnny Depp might've started phoning it in with some of his most recent performances, but here he's incredible and at the top of his game. Jack Sparrow is known the world over for a reason, and that's because Depp managed to flip the conventions and make a character that's incredibly original and fun. The term gets thrown around an awful lot, but it's not much truer than here, you can't see another person portraying this character. He's funny when he needs to be, likeable from his very introduction and intelligent. The way he walks, the way he talks, his wit, is all entertaining and iconic. There's not one aspect that's overused to the point that it's annoying. He steals the show, with every scene. Geoffrey Rush also delivers a solid performance as Barbossa. He's menacing, intimidating and scary, but my god is he so much fun to watch. There's many times in which he'll chew the scenery and give his best villainous laugh or evil look, but it's always entertaining. The scenes in which both Depp and Rush share the screen are some of the best. Orlando Bloom is quite likeable in this role. He may not be the best actor but as Will Turner I think he's perfectly suited. When he takes over as the action man or tries to be heroic, it comes off as kinda funny as he doesn't fit that role. But he's supposed to be like that. It's supposed to be funny and entertaining and I thought it was. Keira Knightley is also perfectly suited for this role. She can always pull off being part of royalty. She's just so incredibly English. She's quite likeable and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I thought she delivered some really funny lines. She's also able to be the character to take charge and it's great fun. The whole cast work well together and make for very memorable characters.
The story is both intricate and simple at the same time. And when you think about it, this was based off of an attraction at a theme park. All they needed was a bare minimum plot, but they go the extra step. When trying to describe Pirates, I automatically go to Jack Sparrow as the main character. But he's not really. This is all about Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. So you'll have their storyline in which one of them has a gold medallion. The bad guys (Barbossa) want the medallion to lift a curse. Sparrow has a hatred for Barbossa as he stole his ship and he wants it back. Meanwhile, the second name Turner complicates people's intentions and almost everyone is double crossed. It's easy to follow as everything's laid out in perfect place and the runtime is used perfectly. There's never really any downtime. The film gets right into the plot and introduces the characters quickly. A memorable action scene takes place then a minute later another one. It's constantly moving its plot with incredibly entertaining scenes. I remembered almost everything that happened in the film, and I haven't seen it in maybe ten years, that's how memorable it is. It's a perfect definition of a blockbuster. It's not trying to be anything other than a fun pirate adventure. Gore Verbinski does a fantastic job directing this. It's also incredibly well shot. Ship battles and sword fights are brilliant and still some of the best. The costume and set design are also on point throughout. I didn't even find problems with the CGI. It may not be realistic but never once did it bug me. It moves fluently and all adds to the nature of the film. The score is also one of the best of the 2000's. I mean, that main theme is so catchy and used really well in the film that it's unforgettable. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is still an excellent blockbuster and one of the best pirate films in recent memory. Always entertaining, with a handful of fun and likeable performances, Johnny Depp being on top form and featuring a great adventure story.