The Curse of the Black Pearl
- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Walt Disney
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
hen Disney decided to create a feature-length film based solely on a theme park attraction, they must have had their doubts. Meanwhile, the rest of Hollywood probably thought they were just plain mad. Fortunately for Disney, they employed a pair of talented writers and cast Johnny Depp in the lead role, resulting in the Mouse House's very first PG-13 film and one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. "Pirates of the Caribbean" is exactly what you look for in a summer blockbuster, all while delivering a much-needed overhaul to the classic pirate flicks of the golden years.
Years ago, Jack Sparrow (Depp) was the captain of the Black Pearl, an infamous pirate ship that has long since been rumored to carry a crew of undead pirates seeking revenge on the cities of England. Now leading the ship is Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Sparrow's former first mate who is searching for the golden coins that will lift the curse placed on him and his crew so many years before. Although the pirates look like normal men during the day, it isn't until they step into the bright moonlight that they reveal their bony insides, which now are their outsides. After the pirates kidnap the Governor's daughter Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) because she's in possession of the final coin, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith apprentice who's fallen in love with the beautiful aristocrat, joins Sparrow on a mission to save the girl. In return for his help, Turner offers Sparrow the Black Pearl once they vanquish the cursed pirates.
“The Curse of the Black Pearl” is one of the most entertaining movies you’ll see all year, but if there’s one problem with the film, it’s that director Gore Verbinski doesn’t seem to want it to end. At 143 minutes, the film is about 20 minutes too long, and it really could have done with a little trimming around the edges. For instance, do we really need to see so much of Barbossa’s incompetent subordinates (played by Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook)? Perhaps, but it doesn’t really matter thanks to Johnny Depp’s memorable performance. Playing Captain Jack Sparrow with the drunken finesse of Keith Richards, Depp never provides a dull moment, and it’s one of his best roles to date. Additionally, both Bloom and Knightley are a perfect fit in their respective roles, while Geoffrey Rush nearly steals the show as Barbossa.
As if it hasn't been said enough, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" is a great summer movie, and probably one of the best this season has to offer if only for its renewal of the high seas adventure film. The fact that it’s so darn funny is what ultimately separates it from the rest of the pack, and should it do well at the box office, we’ll probably be seeing a lot more pirate films in the future. At the top of that list will undoubtedly be a sequel to “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” which conveniently provides an ending ideal for a follow-up. Some might accuse Disney of getting a little too far ahead of themselves with such an ambitious set-up, but if the sequel is even half as good as the first film, they’ll all be right there waiting in line.
Two-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
The two-disc release of “Pirates of the Caribbean” is jam-packed with bonus material highlighted by three audio commentary tracks (including one with director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp, another with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Keira Knightley and Jack Davenport, and a third with writers Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio and Stuart Beattie), and the in-depth making-of documentary “An Epic at Sea.” Also included are 19 deleted scenes, an SFX featurette, a video diary with Lee Arenberg, a blooper reel, and much more. Blu-ray owners also get a few exclusives, including the pop-up trivia track, “Scoundrels of the Sea,” which offers historical info and facts about pirate lore, and seven additional behind-the-scenes featurettes.