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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom Geoffrey Rush
Director: Gore Verbinski
Genre: Action
Year: 2003
Rating: 3 / 5

The idea that a company could derive a film from an amusement park ride is a little far-fetched to me, but, in the case of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, it actually works. The term is used lightly, as Pirates of the Caribbean is little more than fluffy popcorn entertainment, but, that being said, it knows its purposes and handles it well. Director Gore Verbinski wisely lets star Johnny Depp prance across the screen as he sees fit, as Depp’s performance is the only one that stands out in a cast of cardboard cutouts. No offense to noted thespian Geoffrey Rush, but the Australian could easily have been replaced by Dennis Hopper, a man equally at home chewing the scenery as an over-the-top villain.

When the beautiful Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), daughter to the governor, is kidnapped from her home by Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and his band of marauding pirates, there is only one place to turn. Lowly blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), determined to rescue the women he loves, seeks out imprisoned pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Along with a crew of misfits and miscreants, Will and Jack set sail after the Black Pearl, Barbossa’s ship and the subject of a dreaded curse. Only as Will and Jack close in on Barbossa and his captive do we learn the true nature of the curse, as well as its effect on the Black Pearl’s crew.

A lot has been made of the fact that Pirates of the Caribbean is Disney’s first foray into the uncharted waters of PG-13. Long known for toeing the line and putting out strictly family fare – although Disney has previously crossed these lines via its other studios – Pirates of the Caribbean features a healthy dose of violence and suggestive language. Mind you, the film is a lot less racy than the typical PG-13 film in theatres these days, but it is a bit more chilling than Disney’s usual offerings. It presents an unusual contrast, as certain segments of the film feel very much like they are being directed at a younger audience, while others, particularly those involving Barbossa’s ghoulish henchmen, seem somewhat edgier.

The special effects are certainly key to the overall success of the movie. Although some of the coolest tricks were divulged too greedily in the film’s trailers, the effects involving the legion of prickly pirates are definitely worth seeing. Undead creatures have evidently come a long way from the days of Jason and the Argonauts! Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley may be the hot stars of the moment, but they do little more than go through the motions, stopping from time to time in order to strut and pose. (Most of their fans, however, will hardly care one way or the other.) Only Depp rises above the fray, delivering a rather unique take on the morally ambiguous captain. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl sails merrily along, but this ship does not quite qualify as the stuff of legend.


Johnny Depp..........Jack Sparrow
Orlando Bloom..........Will Turner
Geoffrey Rush..........Barbossa
Keira Knightley..........Elizabeth Swann

Certification: Rated PG-13 for violence.
Running Time: 143 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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