Proof Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl [4.5]

Every young boy dreams of pirates at least once in their childhood, whether it stems from a sword fight on the playground or playing with the Lego pirate sets or even children classics like “Peter Pan” or “Hook”. Regardless of how they are exposed, they eventually dream of the ‘glamorous’ life of a pirate. That is why I feel Disney capitalized on this consistency and delivered the film “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl”.

Children love pirates for the same reason we love rock stars. They get to basically do whatever they want and live off the grid, which, whether you are young or not, appears glamorous to at least some degree. Pirates (like rock stars) take what they want and leave to the next port/city, they are unafraid to be themselves, and apparently, none of them have to shower. None-the-less, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” represents the life of a pirate extremely well. The life of a pirate is messy, adventurous, and epic, which is comes across perfectly in the film.

Love him or hate him, Johnny Depp becomes the character Captain Jack Sparrow, who on the surface appears to be a level below most pirates. But do not let his looks deceive you, because Jack Sparrow is wily and persistent. The film’s plot is not centralized around one character but if one had to be chosen, it would be Jack, just because he has the most star power in his role. Every other character underestimates him, but eventually he is the means to an end. I have always said that Depp has a way of breathing life into unbelievable characters, the likes of which I have never seen emulated by any other actor, save for Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker in the “The Dark Knight”.

Although Jack Sparrow is the protagonist, my favorite pirate is Captain Hector Barbossa played by Geoffrey Rush. The actor Rush has been a favorite of mine in almost all of his roles in the past, but there is something about portraying a pirate that simply works for him. Barbossa is what I picture pirates to be. He is a villain, but even in the first film, you can relate with him and even though you are probably supposed to hate him, it is hard to hate the epitome of a pirate in Barbossa. His dialogue plays perfectly to this dynamic as he is likably sarcastic and brash, but he is constantly playing the villain role of kidnapping the helpless maiden, trying to kill our protagonist, and consistently attacking the “good” guys.

The film takes the imaginary route and throws in a curse where the crew of the Black Pearl are forced to walk as the undead, not being able to enjoy the mere luxurious of life like eating, drinking, or feeling. They quest for the final piece of the Aztec gold that started the curse and to locate the “blood to be repaid”. Though the undead portion takes away from the reality of the film, it strangely fits. Compared to the future films, this one contains the most realistic form of imaginary legend come to life.

Jack Sparrow’s drive is to find the Black Pearl, which his mutinous crew tossed him off of, to die on an abandoned island left with one shot in his pistol. Now off that island, he aims to use that last shot to kill his mutinous first-mate, Barbossa. His plight leads him into saving a young woman, Elizabeth Swan, brilliantly played by Keira Knightley. In saving her he is captured. It is then that Swan is taken captive by the Black Pearl. The dough-eyed William Turner, played by Orlando Bloom, aims to save her by releasing Jack Sparrow and finding the Black Pearl. Sparrow is privy to a secret about the “blood to be repaid” and agrees to the venture. What ensues is exactly what a pirate film should be; swashbuckling adventure and extensive sword fights.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” has a way of turning the plot into an intricate weave of lies and hidden intentions. Everyone appears to have their own agenda and therefore nothing is ever turning out the way you expect, which can cause for confusion, but mostly results in an entertaining experience for those who do not care to see an ending from a mile away. You cheer when the characters you like work together and you guess your way through the multiple agendas when they butt heads.

For sheer scale, intricate plot, and in-depth character development, it is hard to top “Pirates of the Caribbean”. “Curse of the Black Pearl” is the perfect first film for a trilogy (soon to be franchise). Johnny Depp lands in one of his greatest roles while Geoffrey Rush becomes one of my favorite characters to ever grace the screen. Every young boy dreams of pirates when they are young and this film is everything I dreamed it would be.

[Directed by Gore Verbinski] [PG-13] [143 mins] [9 July 2003] 

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