Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

PG-13   |    |  Action, Adventure, Fantasy


Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Poster

Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate "Captain" Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor's daughter, from Jack's former pirate allies, who are now undead.


8/10
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21 March 2004 | allisonmckinley
Johnny Depp puts a little swish in swashbuckle...
Despite being rife with technical blunders such as the longest full moon in history, Disney's first non-PG film is proving to be a financial boon while at the same time collecting reviews from critics that run from tepid to red hot. I am in complete agreement with Roger Ebert on one point: Somewhere in this 143 minute tour de force there lurks a very good ninety-minute film.

Other than Johnny Depp, who fashioned his character's personality (and eye makeup?) after observations of his good friend Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, the cast of 'Pirates' reads like a Who's Who of English film actors, including Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport and Mackenzie Crook.

When screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio originally pitched the movie to the Disney executives in the early '90s, Disney rejected it. It makes one wonder just who is running the Disney empire. Universal Studios have been combining action/adventure movies with theme park rides for over two decades (E.T., Jurassic Park, Jaws, and Back to the Future to name a few) only in reverse order-first the film, then the ride. This combination has worked well for Universal, and it seems almost absurd that Disney has taken so long to pick up on the obvious.

I liked three things in particular about this film. Just say Johnny Depp three times. His character Jack Sparrow redefines the term swashbuckler. Not since William Hurt's performance in Children of a Lesser God , and to a slightly lesser degree Kevin Costner's in JFK, has an actor so resoundingly stolen the show. If you do not like Johnny Depp, 'Pirates' is not for you. If you do like Mr. Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood), you will enjoy 'Pirates'.

That is not to say that Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush were less than fantastic. Rush made a delightful villain as Capt. Barbossa, and Orlando Bloom's performance brought charisma to a rather limiting role as Will Turner. Expect nothing but good things from this young actor in the future.

Let us examine the plot. This will be a rather short paragraph, for sword fights do not a movie make. The opening scenes show a young Elizabeth Swann on a ship at sea. A young Will Turner floats up on a raft, unconscious, wearing a gold medallion round his neck. Elizabeth hides the medallion so that no one else will know that young Will is a pirate. Years later, the pirates come to Port Royal in quest of the gold piece and kidnap the governor's daughter Elizabeth (Kiera Knightly), now all grown up. The fact that she also has the medallion they are looking for is just one of those lucky things that will happen if you're a good pirate who eats well and stays fit. Captain Jack Sparrow shows up at about the same time and he and Will commandeer a ship from the Royal Navy to chase the pirates, save Elizabeth, and add some adventure to their otherwise bleak lives. Swordfight, swordfight, swordfight, and that's about it. Let us just say that Pirates of the Caribbean has all the plot of an amusement park ride and leave it at that.

A few predictions may be in order, however. Look for an Oscar nomination for Depp's efforts. Look for nominations as well for sound, set design, makeup, and cinematography. As far as best picture? Next to Lord of the Rings (Return of the King)? Not likely.

Director Gore Verbinski, who used to play in a punk rock band and is best known for creating the Budweiser frogs, does an outstanding job keeping track of the myriad details required of a director, given his limited experience. True, 'Pirates' has countless errors in continuity, but those occur in any film of such scope. Mr. Verbinski has only four other films to his name: a short entitled The Ritual (1996), and then three very different but effectively made films, Mouse Hunt (1997), The Mexican (2001), and the very creepy thriller The Ring (2002). Again, it makes one wonder just who is at the helm of the USS Disney to put a $125 million movie in the hands of a neophyte. Well, it worked with Lord of the Rings and a very inexperienced Peter Jackson, and it worked here for Disney as well.

'Pirates of the Caribbean' is a fun movie for most of the family. It may be rather scary for children ten and under and somewhat boring for many over twenty-five. I enjoyed it immensely for exactly what it was... an amusing ride.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert De Niro was offered the role of Captain Jack Sparrow, but he declined, thinking that the movie wouldn't do well in the box office as many other pirate movies in the past. He was proven wrong, and so he accepted the role of Captain Shakespeare in the movie Stardust (2007).


Quotes

Young Elizabeth: Yo, ho, yo, ho/ a pirate's life for me/ Yo, ho, yo, ho/ it's a pirate's life for me/drink up me hearties, yo, ho...
Mr. Gibbs: Quiet, missy! Cursed pirates sail these waters. You want to call them down on us?
Norrington: Mr. Gibbs, that will do!
Mr. Gibbs: She was singing about pirates...


Goofs

The melody played during Commodore Norrington promotion ceremony is the March of the Royal Grenadiers. Not only was this march reserved for the Army and Norrington belongs to the Navy, but the film is set in 1714, and the earliest version of the march dates to 1720.


Crazy Credits

Johnny Depp's dentist got a credit for Depp's teeth.


Alternate Versions

Disk 2 of the DVD features 19 deleted/extended scenes:

  • The full version of the scene where Will accidentally "takes" a candle off the wall.
  • In the carriage on the way to Commodore Norrington's promotion, Governor Swann tells Elizabeth that he hopes she will demonstrate a little more decorum in front of Commodore Norrington, and that it's only through his efforts that Port Royal has become civilized.
  • Extended scene of Port Royal when the wind makes a sudden change when the Aztec Gold "calls".
  • Extended scene of when Will helps Jack escape from Jail. Will asks Jack why to bother with the pistol, and that he could've killed him before with the single shot the pistol had if he was willing to use it. Jack then tells Will that when you've only got one shot it's best to wait for the opportune moment to use it.
  • Before dining with Captain Barbossa, Elizabeth is putting on the purple dress and Pintel and Ragetti are spying on her through a hole in the wall. Elizabeth soon realizes this and knocks Ragetti's eye out with a poker.
  • Extra scene of Jack and Will walking through the streets of Tortuga where continuous fighting is taking place.
  • At Tortuga Tavern, Jack brings two drinks to Mr. Gibbs, he hesitates on which one to give him and tells him, "Just the one," and Gibbs responds, "Let's make it last then, huh?"
  • After Jack and Gibbs drink a toast, Will suddenly pulls out his sword, kicks over a table and the fighting in the Tavern stops. Gibbs asks Jack if Will is a bit of a stick and Jack tells him that he has no idea. The fighting in the Tavern continues, and Will inserts his sword back into its sheath.
  • At the Isla del Muerta, Jack scans the deck of the Black Pearl with his telescope. Realizing that Elizabeth is not on board, he tells Will, "It's begun," as the other pirates are running through the caves to where the hidden treasure is.
  • Alternate and extended scene of when Jack tells the pirates that the French thought of "Parley", and also invented Mayonnaise. Part of this extended scene is in the "Blooper Reel" on disk 2 of the DVD.
  • Extended scene of when Jack and Elizabeth are stranded on the island. Jack makes himself at home and Elizabeth tells Jack that he was going to tell Barbossa about Will in exchange for a ship, and Jack explains how in fact he wasn't going to tell Barbossa about Will in exchange for a ship. This conversation leads to Elizabeth asking Jack how he escaped the island.
  • Jack takes two bottles of rum onto the beach and Elizabeth asks him if there's any truth about the other stories, and Jack shows her the tattoo and the 'P' mark on his right arm, the large vein-shaped scars on his left arm and two bullet wounds on his chest, telling her that there's no truth at all. He then decides how they are going to escape the island, gives a bottle of the rum to Elizabeth and she teaches him the pirate song - after she has had a lot more to drink.
  • Extended scene on board the Dauntless where Commodore Norrington tells Governor Swann that he insists upon rescuing Will. Elizabeth tells Norrington that the proposal was meant and that his word would not change hers, and that he is a fine man. Norrington shows his appreciation on the conditional request.
  • On board the Dauntless, just off the shore from the Isla del Muerta, Elizabeth tells Jack that he didn't tell Will about the curse, and Jack says that he noticed she did the same, probably for the same reason. Elizabeth tells Jack that he's a smart man, but she doesn't trust him. Commodore Norrington appears, gives Jack his compass and says, "With me Sparrow."
  • Extended scene of when the pirates go underwater when Captain Barbossa gives the order, "Take a walk." The pirates submerge underwater, just as the Moon appears from behind a cloud.
  • Elizabeth boards the Pearl and Mallot and Grapple decide on what to eat first. Grapple says he was thinking cake, and Mallot sharply responds that he was thinking cake too. Grapple stabs the table with a knife and Elizabeth sees her chance to reach the deck. Mallot eyes Grapple carefully, and Grapple pushes the handle of the knife towards him, telling him to cut the cake.
  • Jack removes his own curse and the lid of the chest slides closed by itself when Will touches it. (This scene was deleted before any skeletal effects had begun so no skeletal effects are seen in this deleted scene.)
  • Extended scene just before Jack's hanging, Mr. Cotton's Parrot arrives and ejaculates on Mullroy. He tries to shake off the parrot but Murtogg stops him and says that it's good luck, then Mr. Cotton's parrot does it on him as well.
  • Extended scene when Commodore Norrington tells Will that the sword is beautiful. He offers Will his compliments and tells Elizabeth that he wishes them both the very best of luck. Gillette asks Norrington about Jack, and he says an extra line that was cut from the film, "Shall we prepare the Dauntless in pursuit?" before Norrington says, "Oh, I think we can afford to give him one day's head start."


Soundtracks

Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)
Words by
Xavier Atencio
Music by George Bruns
Performed by Lucinda Dryzek, Keira Knightley, and Johnny Depp

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Action | Adventure | Fantasy

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