Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

‘Pirates’ is a highly entertaining mix of humor and swashbuckling action. Defying the odds uber-producer Jerry Brucheimer took on the project after years of failed attempts at converting the concept into a film; then entrusting director Gore Verbinski to craft a picture of immense beauty and astonishing technical wizardry. Yet all would be for not without the stand-out central performance by Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, the sexually ambiguous pirate. Depp’s comedic timing and unique look are assets that rarely have been exploited to the effect they are here. His shtick is so amusing that OSCAR voters took notice and nominated him for Best Actor that year.

A plot heavy script from writers Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot has an lively amount of banter between the leads, though it’s tough to tell just how much Depp ad libed. An ongoing gag over Jack’s ‘Captain’ moniker is amongst the more amusing developments in the bloated screenplay. The film runs 145 minutes and it could lose 40minutes without anyone noticing. Too many sword fights and ship-boardings start as thrilling but quickly become numbing. However the film rights itself in time and delivers a beguiling epilogue action sequence that is choreographed and edited to near perfection.

Many viewers have seen the parallels between Sparrow and Keith Richards, but I see a lot of Depp’s impersonation of Hunter S. Thompson as well. Lightweight Orlando Bloom has the appropriate period look but is over-matched when onscreen with any of his costars.The film was intended as a stand alone movie. However after the monstrous box office gross, producers pushed out two subsequent installments (each time to lesser effect). Viewed on it’s own ‘Black Pearl’ is a rousing family film that also passes as a comedy/action period adventure flick.

Director: Gore Verbinski
Stars: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley

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