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

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl– IMDB 229/250

With the recent release of the teaser trailer for the fifth instalment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales, it is a happy coincidence that this week for my IMDb reviews I am reviewing the original, and quite easily the best in the franchise so far, The Curse of the Black Pearl.

The film sees Johnny Depp magically return to form as the now legendary character Jack Sparrow, as he unites with the very vanilla Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), as they look to rescue Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) from the dead pirate clutches of Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) and his swashbuckling crew.

It is a simple story told brilliantly, bringing the former myth and legend of piracy back to life, giving pirate mythology a resurgence in the same way Johnny Depp has a career renaissance based off of his performance in this film.

Heavily inspired by pirate traditions and stories, particularly those created by Robert Louis Stevenson for his novel Treasure Island, director Gore Verbinski does a fantastic job of bringing this lore to life in The Curse of the Black Pearl, translating these traditions to screen in the smoothest way possible without ramming it down our throats (as some of the other films in the franchise can be accused of).

Pirate traditions are brought wonderfully to life in Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirate traditions are brought wonderfully to life in Pirates of the Caribbean – including deserted islands and drinking rum

The action and story is very exciting, perfect to keep kids and young adults entertained throughout, but it is rather dark for a Disney film, which means that adults can easily invest in it as well without it being too aimed towards children. Add in the wonderful pirate banter and humour, and The Curse of the Black Pearl is a pulsating film for kids and an almost nostalgic piece of cinema for adults.

It has a classical film feel to it. When watching it now with some more film experience under my belt, it really reminds of films such as the original Clash of the Titans (1981) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963) with its astounding portrayal of adventure and mythology.

But Verbinski benefits from having much better special effects at his disposal, which really adds to this film, but does become hammy and overdone in later additions to the film series.

What makes this film so excellent though is its original soundtrack, and the leading performances from Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush.

Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer have created an iconic soundtrack with their incredibly catchy and wonderfully adventurous music, which is comparable to the music in films such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park.

Sometimes the music can make a film and elevate it to legendary status, and when you now think of Pirates of the Caribbean, I bet it’s the music that first comes into your mind.

But talking of creating something iconic, Depp really has created a new film icon in Jack Sparrow. He now goes around schools still portraying him and you can see why his character is so loved. What he simply describes as an impersonation of Keith Richards is just perfect for this role, with Geoffrey Rush excellent as his counterpart and rival Captain Barbosa. I mean, how many film characters can say they have had a whole song written about them?

Their relationship of hatred and mutual respect is excellent; they play off each other perfectly with their constant betrayals and insults, with Depp in particular striking a relationship and chemistry with every other actor in this film.

I think what keeps this film from being truly legendary has to be the cookie cutter relationship between Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann.

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are the epitome of the film ‘goodie’ in The Curse of the Black Pearl, which only gets worse as the film series goes on, somehow becoming even cheesier than a Wallace and Gromit short film.

It is the Disney romance no one wants to see and it doesn’t really fit in with the theme or atmosphere of this film, derailing the pace and enthusiasm the film has built every time it seeps its way into the action.

The Curse of the Black Pearl has certainly earned its place as a modern classic. With excellent and now iconic performances from Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush, and a soundtrack that you could say has created the music of mythical pirates, I feel confident saying this is one of the best and most memorable films of the 21st century.

It is just a shame the other films in the series couldn’t really live up to the adventure and wonder this first film created.

Let’s just hope Dead Men Tell No Tales brings the fantasy back.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: 8/10

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