Sometimes it is a single performance that makes a movie. So it is in PIRATES OF
THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL. Without Johnny Depp's enigmatic
work as Jack Sparrow, the movie would have been at best passable and at worst
tiresome. But with prissy swagger and loveable bravado, he's a pirate captain
who steals your heart as he tries to steal some treasure and save his reputation
in the process. Among the film's many on-going jokes is that pirates operate
under supposedly strict rules that are actually more like guidelines.
The miniscule plot involves a group of pirates working under the heinous Captain
Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who commands an infamous ship known as the Black
Pearl. Whenever they attack a town, they leave no survivors. Captain Sparrow
questions this folk tale by reasoning that someone must have lived, or no one
would know about the Black Pearl. BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM's Keira Knightley plays
Elizabeth, the governor's daughter who finds herself an unwilling passenger on
the Black Pearl. Orlando Bloom plays the humble blacksmith who pines for
Elizabeth and would be willing to lay down his life in order to save hers.
There's also a ghost story full of some scary skeletons who refuse to die.
But what the movie is really about is non-stop mayhem. The movie is based on a
Disneyland ride, and it shows -- in the best way possible. I've always liked
the wonderfully hokey Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The movie based on it is
just as much adolescent fun. It speaks to the inner pirate in us all.
(Thankfully, the film is nothing like THE COUNTRY BEARS, Disney's atrocious
first attempt to turn a park attraction into a film.) There isn't anything
wrong with the picture except its running length. Director Gore Verbinski (THE
RING) should have chopped a full half-hour off of it in order to get it into
fighting trim. After this picture, I can't wait for the next
Disneyland-ride-turned-movie, THE HAUNTED MANSION, starring Eddie Murphy.
Hopefully that film will help Murphy get his career back on track.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL runs 2:20. It is rated
PG-13 for "action/adventure violence" and would be acceptable for kids around 9
My son Jeffrey, age 14, who loves Jerry Bruckheimer films like this one, gave it
***. He liked the music and the cast, especially Depp. He thought the pacing
of the fighting sequences was perfect in that they were never allowed to run on
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes