Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

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

I can distinctly remember when these came out that they were liked but frequently talked about in the way we now talk about Marvel (relentless plot structure, broad characterization & humor, literally based on a theme park ride, etc) but watching now it's like WE HAVE TO GO BACK.

It's not just the tightness of its construction/pace (this somehow feels economical at a runtime that now makes me want to kill myself whenever i see it), the incredible analog design work, the charming performances; Verbinski has a real sense for the old-fashioned craft. Choreographed swashbuckling, images (and music!!!) that have energy and personality and payoff and feel like they were storyboarded by artists instead of a committee of brand producers. It's crazy that this is the bar but there's a specificity to both its rhythm and its look that elevates the simple adventure material into an actual movie which, in a time where everything feels like a never-ending 2nd act designed to be aesthetically indistinguishable from each other by a computer algorithm, practically makes this Lawrence of Arabia.

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