Quick Hit – The way it all began, with terrific acting between Depp and Rush, as well as incredibly original characters, and a skilled pivoting between the moments that matter.
Welcome to week two of Pirates Week here at DoubleFeaturePreachers! This week is all about the Pirates of the Caribbean series. I’ll do my best to avoid stating the same things over and over, but I can only promise so much – the good parts tend to hold true, and the bad ones tend to be repeated. Without further ado (or rambling by me), I’ll go forth with the first movie: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Interestingly enough, this movie starts with (for me at least) the introduction of some of the least interesting characters in the series, Elizabeth Swann and William Turner. It is evident there is so much more going on in this world, and we are nearly immediately treated to the entrance of Jack Sparrow (ahem, excuse me, Captain Jack Sparrow). Johnny Depp is an absolute wonder. So many parts of Jack Sparrow may have come back to haunt other characters in other film series (I’m looking at you Hatter), but here, the freshness of the creation of a character reminds us all why Tim Burton keeps using Depp in his films. There is a creativity that is evident in the characters every slur, movement, and subtle wink at the other characters (as well as the audience). He’s a pirate that we have never seen, so far removed from Errol Flynn, that it would seem almost as if he was descretating the memory of the pirates that have come before him… but it’s obviously not that. Instead, it’s a loving, comedic tribute.
As the plot hurtles along, we’re allowed just enough time to breath in between scenes of debauchery and backstabbing. Gore Verbinski is terrific at knowing just when we’ve had enough of the boring scenes to throw in another sword fight with an undead Pirate. The effects here, though showing some slight age after ten years, are still enough that you get a chill when you see the first images of the undead deck mates, toiling incessantly. And Barbossa’s introduction to the world, “You’re in one!” is terrific.
Speaking of Barbossa, if there is one character that could rival Depp’s Sparrow, it’s Geoffrey Rush’s Barbosa. Filled with near camp but always respect, Captain Barbossa is a real treat to watch, and it’s because of Rush’s performance. Rarely straying into Depp’s spotlight, but often times stealing the show, Captain Hector Barbossa (and his trusted undead monkey Jack) have a comraderie with all the characters, even the good ones, that few seem to have. That leads to the scene that I consider to be the most fun – the undead battle scene between Depp and Rush. It almost feels Shakespearean with Rush’s delivery of lines, and Depp’s comedic quips back to him.
The side characters are a lot of fun too. First, there is Norrington, who you just can’t help but feel sorry for because you know that he is fighting a losing battle. Kevin McNally’s Joshamee Gibbs is perfect comedic relief as well. Then there are twin dunces on each side, with the two pirates and the two soldiers that you can only hope got paid enough for their lines, because they were well deserving of praise.
I think one of my final things I want to touch on is how masterfully some of the sword fights are handled. Though they may not approach the mastery of a scene like the one in The Princess Bride, the first fight between Turner and Sparrow within the blacksmith’s shop is exhilarating and fun. Everything is a prop, and everything is a stage, and both Depp and Bloom sell it masterfully. You can see Bloom’s experience with the LOTR series here, as he seems extremely comfortable with the fighting.
Overall, I don’t think you could ask much more from a film. Though it may not leave you with a deeper meaning, it’ll leave you with a set of entertainment that you cannot forget. I’m going to give the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl an “A-“. Savvy?
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"