Wednesday, September 11, 2013

61. Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Code-name: Parlay
[definition: according to the pirates' code, if you utter "parlay" upon capture, you can't be harmed until your last request is fulfilled]

Director: Gore Verbinski
Type: action/adventure, comedy, fantasy

Captain Jack Sparrow- Johnny Depp
Elizabeth Swann- Keira Knightley
Will Turner- Orlando Bloom
Captain Barbossa- Geoffrey Rush
Gibbs- Kevin McNally
[Commodore] Norrington- Jack Davenport
Governor Swann- Jonathan Pryce

Notable Nominations:
OSCAR- Best Actor- Johnny Depp
OSCAR- Best Sound Mixing
OSCAR- Best Sound Editing
OSCAR- Best Makeup
OSCAR- Best Visual Effects
Golden Globe- Best Actor (comedy/musical)- Johnny Depp


If I remember right, I was among the skeptics who thought a movie based on a Disney park ride wouldn't pan out.
Yet, here we are, three sequels later.

While I'm on that franchise...

Unfortunately, it seems that the 5th movie has been pushed back yet again. This time, due to script disputes.
And most believe the franchise hasn't been consistently good.

Personally, I loved "Dead Man's Chest." In some places, I enjoy it more than the original, but in others, not so much.
"World's End," I think I saw twice and just found it WAY too long. Plus, the ending was pretty sucky. You spend the whole franchise wanting Elizabeth and Will to end happily ever after... and thanks to the pirate world, they are unable to. So, why did we waste all this time with the movies? I dunno... that's just my personal gripe.


This was the movie where I was first introduced to some actors I enjoy watching from time to time. Some more than others.
Although "introduced" might not be the right way to put it.
I have seen Orlando Bloom (although I didn't recognize him as Legolas from "Lord of the Rings" for some time... must be the wig), and I have seen Johnny Depp in "Edward Scissorhands"

I think Johnny Depp was among those actors that my mom had pointed out to me in some movies or in conversation about certain movies... but I never had a face to go with the name. Or I just never put 2 and 2 together until the day the names of actors stuck with me to the point I can name what movies I saw them in.

Let's just say after this performance, I'd never forget Johnny Depp again.

It really was the first time I saw Keira Knightley (great actress name, by the way) and Geoffrey Rush (who I found super compelling in "The King's Speech").

The Story

Elizabeth Swann is the daughter of the governor of Port Royal. [I thought it was located in Louisiana or Florida, but it's in southeastern Jamaica].

In the prologue, we see her on a ship with her father and the navy when they encounter a shipwreck. Its only survivor is a young boy. Elizabeth finds a medallion on him and, afraid it meant he was a pirate, she takes it and hides it.

Roughly ten years later (Wikipedia says 8, but there was no distinction in the movie), she is being romantically pursued by Commodore Norrington. At the same time, Will Turner (the boy from the shipwreck) is the apprentice of a blacksmith and harboring affections for Elizabeth.

After these introductions, we meet our anti-hero (as much as I hate to say it, you really can't call a pirate a hero. That would be an oxymoron, wouldn't it?), Captain Jack Sparrow.
Probably one of the greatest, and most hilarious, introductions of any character on film. The music is gracious and regal as he stands tall with horizon at his back... then we see he's on a small boat that's sinking.
Yes, he may be the worst pirate anyone has ever seen, but you gotta love him because he is just SO quirky. Nobody but Johnny Depp would be able to do this part and make this character so recognizable and memorable. You forget he's technically not a good guy, but you want to believe he has it in him.

As the Commodore attempts to propose to Elizabeth, her tight corset makes it impossible for her to breathe and she falls backwards into the ocean.
(yeah dude, that's such a great place to propose...).
Lucky for her, Captain Jack Sparrow is there to save her, but not before the medallion she's wearing sends a pulse into the ocean.

A chase scene soon follows as the police race to jail Captain Jack Sparrow for piracy (not to mention he threatened to take Elizabeth as a hostage to elude capture).
This eventually leads him to the blacksmith's where he finds himself in a sword fight with Will Turner, who is actually really good.
Captain Jack Sparrow does get captured, but as with the earlier scene where he's presenting the sword to the Commodore, the credit goes to his boss rather than him.

When night falls, pirates arrive at Port Royal from their vessel, The Black Pearl. They find Elizabeth, who invokes "parlay" so she can't be harmed until after she's brought to their captain. She also happens to identify herself as "Elizabeth Turner," something that catches their interest more than the fact she's the governor's daughter.

So comes the main plot:
Captain Barbossa and the crew of The Black Pearl are under a curse. They stole a chest of Azetc gold. After doing so, Barbossa led a mutiny against Jack Sparrow, leaving him marooned on a "god-forsaken island" with only a "pistol with one shot." One member of the crew, Bootstrap Bill Turner didn't approve of the mutiny and sent one piece of the gold to his son Will... because if all of the 883 pieces of gold aren't together, the curse can't be lifted. This curse ensures that those pirates who came in contact with the gold could not die.

Elizabeth sees when the moon comes out the pirates are nothing but bones, to which Barbossa says "you best be believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner. You're in one!"

Much of the movie revolves around rescuing Elizabeth (and later Will, who is taken by the pirates since his blood is needed to lift the curse), and lifting the curse of the Aztec gold.

How makes it memorable

You have the storyline of the developing romance between Elizabeth and Will, somewhat of a forbidden love because they come from different classes.

But mainly, Captain Jack Sparrow is what makes it memorable. HIs quest is to retake his ship from Barbossa, which leads to him having to free the pirates from the curse.
Just watching Johnny Depp is in this role makes it worth it every time. He is hilarious without even trying sometimes. All of it owes to his sense of humor and sarcasm in the places where it counts.

My favorite scene is where the pirates of the Black Pearl maroon Elizabeth and Jack on an island after kidnapping Will. Elizabeth asks him how he survived on the island and how he got away. Supposedly, he go off using sea turtles, but he survived because he had rum.
Jack reveals a secret nook on the island full of rum and gets to drinking. While she's in disbelief about this, he says "welcome to the Caribbean, love." 
It seems at nightfall that she's getting along with him because she started drinking as well, but in the morning, all of it gets torched in a bonfire she's using as a smoke signal.

Despite her explanations, Jack keeps asking, "but why is the rum gone?!"

I also can't go any further without giving a big nod to Klaus Badelt for writing the memorable score for this movie. I believe the triumphant theme played throughout the movie IS called "He's a Pirate." Does it get a little repetitive? Yeah, but I could care less. This movie wouldn't be quite complete without this score in the background during all the action sequences, whether they're chase scenes or sword fights.

Then there're also the scenes early on where Jack (along with Will) is working with Gibbs to get a crew together and he keeps getting slapped by women.
His responses include:
1) "not sure if I deserved that"
2) "I think I might have deserved that"
3) "yeah, that one I deserved"

What can I say? The man gets around. His comment immediately after freeing Elizabeth from the corset, "clearly you haven't been to Singapore."

Where it lacks...

Maybe it's the fact this movie runs a little over two hours, gets slow at some points or almost every time I'd seen it, it's at night...
I have trouble staying awake for this movie. I cannot think of a single occasion where I saw it in its entirety without falling asleep.

Not the best way to sell a movie, I know, but that's just me adding my two cents to it.

And aside from Captain Jack Sparrow and, perhaps Elizabeth to an extent, none of the characters are well developed. They don't have a lot of layers to them.

Barbossa is guided by the one motivation, which is to lift the curse.
Will spends most of the movie being the heroic archetype, driven by his adoration of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth goes from being the governor's daughter and very feminine to much more than that .She grew as a person as she spent time with the pirates and even traded in her dresses for pirates garb in the sequels. Let's just say she isn't entirely prim and proper by the time we get through with her.

Simply put, leave it to Dsiney to make piracy look appealing. You know Captain Jack Sparrow isn't all good or bad, but they just make him look so good 8-)

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