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Monday, September 09, 2013

My Favourite Movies: Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl

I knew that I would love this film the second that Captain Jack Sparrow (aka Johnny Depp) stepped off his sinking boat and onto the dockside without breaking step. It was a wonderfully understated scene which set the tone for the rest of the movie. Sparrow (you might have heard of him) is a pirate in the British dominion of Port Royal looking for a ship to steal in order to chase a much bigger prize – the fabled Black Pearl – which used to be his ship until the crew mutinied and left him stranded on a small island. Unfortunately for the crew the gold they had recently acquired was cursed and, for the last ten years, they had been forced to sail the Caribbean as an undead crew of an undying ship unable to eat or feel anything. Only once the curse is lifted can they finally begin to enjoy the benefits of those ten years of plunder. That opportunity is presented to them when young Elizabeth Swann (played fairly well by Keira Knightley) falls into the ocean wearing the last of the cursed gold. Alerted to its presence they attack Port Royal, take the gold as well as Miss Swann. Considered lost even by her loving father, Elizabeth’s would be lover William Turner (a rather badly cast Orlando Bloom), decides that the only way to get her back is to spring Sparrow from jail, steal a ship and sail in pursuit. What they don’t realise, but quickly come to appreciate, is that finding a supernatural ship is difficult enough but fighting a supernatural crew is something quite different!

The first thing that has to be said is that this should never have been made into a trilogy no matter what the financial pressure to do so. As a stand-alone film this works. It is reasonably well plotted, mostly well-acted (the less said about Bloom in particular the better here) and often very funny indeed. The second film, which I and many others made the mistake of seeing, was in my opinion at least was a serious let down. Needless to say I didn’t see the third movie and definitely won’t be seeing the fourth (or fifth if they make one). That now out of the way I can concentrate on why I like the film so much. For one thing I thought it was very well filmed. Being a sucker for cinematography that goes a long way on selling a movie to me. Then there was the parody of the pirate genre which I have long enjoyed. Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow is so over the top that it creates its own credibility. It’s just so crazy that you have to believe it. Seeing the pirates as the rock stars of the age he played Sparrow as a rock-star…. And it worked brilliantly. Without that central character it just wouldn’t have worked. The film basically revolved around him and Depp had enough screen presence (and more besides) to carry it off. It is by far, going on the movies I’ve seen of his, way and above the best thing I’ve seen him in. Luckily his supporting cast didn’t need to do much to support him. About the only other credible character in the whole film was the mutinous Captain Barbossa (played in almost equally over-the-top fashion by Geoffrey Rush) and it was great fun to watch them play off each other.

I think I saw this at least twice and possibly three times at the cinema. The first time with the usual gang and them again with my friend CQ who is a huge (and I do mean huge) Depp fan. I think that most of the Depp films I’ve seen are because of her. I’m honestly not that impressed. Depp for me tries too hard to be quirky and ends up as being a caricature of himself. He has made a living from being an odd-ball and has been typecast in that role both on and off screen. I remember having a lot of fun watching it the first few times and in my subsequent viewings too – including a few days ago where I still laughed out loud at some bits despite knowing that the joke was coming. If that’s not the sign of a funny film I don’t know what is!  

1 comment:

Sleepypete said...

Yep - original Pirates was a cracker but the second was a total stinker.

We see a bit too much these days of attempts to turn standalone things into franchises or series and often, that just doesn't work.

The third was a bit of an apology for the second but the fourth was quite watchable. Not buying any more of them though and that's the true test of a movie's value.