Sorry, just needed to get the ‘pirate noise’ reference out of the way early. Having done that, I can now report that Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is fabulous. Loved it, loved it, loved it. It’s the movie that Lara Croft wishes she were in. My swash has been thoroughly buckled.
I mean, how can you go wrong? It’s got cannons and treasure and pirates and ghost ships and powdered wigs and cursed Aztec gold and lovely maidens and heroic blacksmiths and stiff-lipped British colonial naval officers and a parrot and skeletons. It’s even got a guy with a wooden eyeball. Go see it already!
If you need me to be more articulate about it, fine. The cast is great. Worth your eleven bucks all by himself is Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow–sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow–a demented privateer who seems to be a direct ancestor of Steven Tyler. As the diabolical Captain Barbarrossa, leader of the Pearl’s doomed crew of nasties, Geoffrey Rush gets to chew up at least as much scenery as Depp, and gets all the good speeches besides. There’s also Orlando Bloom, handsome and heroic even sans elf wig and putting his LOTR sword training to good use. Some have complained that his performance is a little flat, but I think that’s mostly the effect of having to play straight man to Depp all the time. I liked him just fine. The Designated Damsel in Distress is Keira Knightley–whom I didn’t even recognize as the Best Friend from Bend it Like Beckham–and even she gets her licks in before the credits roll. She also looks like a cross between Natalie Portman and a young Helena Bonham Carter, which I’m sure didn’t hurt her audition either. (Bigger Star Wars geeks than I may recognize her as Queen Amidala’s ep 1 decoy Sabé.) The minor roles are all well served–see, for instance, that skinny guy from The Office as the Wooden Eyeball Pirate.
The story is all over the map, but you won’t care. It’s funny, it’s exciting, it’s spooky. The horrible-skeleton visuals are superb and totally believable. The art direction in general is great: note the gloomy clouds that waft ’round the Pearl even on the clearest afternoons.
There is of course already a sequel in the works. They might make money, but I don’t see how they can top what they’ve already got here. On the other hand, I figured this movie would be terrible when I first heard about it. A movie based on a ride at Disneyland? Who were they kidding?
I hereby retract that. Man, what fun. Go see it. Go see it for Depp alone. And whatever you do, don’t skip out before the credits end–and I ain’t saying more than that.