Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003): Breakdown by Rantbo
Johnny Depp is sexy—Arrrrr!
Mystery and excitement abound in this thrilling high-seas pirate adventure, based on one of Walt Disney’s most beloved theme park rides!—And it’s sentences like that in the original add campaigns and reviews that initially turned me off of this film back in the summer of ‘03.
Though I am happy to say, I gave PIRATES a chance despite my reservations, and luckily I did so, well before the shitstorm of teenage douchebags and their insufferable soccer mothers started to drench their drawers over sweet, sweet Johnny. To be honest, I went opening weekend as a goof. I expected to laugh at the film’s expense and with luck, annoy some of the people who were actually looking forward to it. Silly me, I ended up sucking on my own salty buckled boot, as I enjoyed the Hell out of this flick and for the exact opposite reasons I had intended on doing so.
The story revolves around three main characters in early 1700s European-controlled Caribbean islands. First, there is the sword-swinging blacksmith, lovelorn hero and all-around general upstanding gentleman suitor, William Turner. Next, there is the target of Turner’s affections and selfless heroic deeds, a governor’s daughter and striking beauty, Miss Elizabeth Swann. And then, of course, the under-garment moistening unassuming badass and opportunist pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow.
We follow these three mismatched adventurers across the ocean and islands of middle-America as they work together (and sometimes against each other) to achieve their separate goals, which can only be met in the defeat of a dreaded band of cursed un-dead pirates and their cunning and charismatic leader, Captain Hector Barbossa (played most excellently by the amazing Mr. Geoffrey Rush).
My issues: Some dreadful expositions are hammered into several otherwise intense and enjoyable action sequences. The most blatant and cringe-inducing is that of the sword fight between Sparrow and Turner in the Smith Shoppe. For a character centered almost purely on his own selfish needs and wants, Sparrow is WAY too interested in Will, however this is regrettable as it isn’t in the sexual sense. I digress. After discussing the finer art of fencing for no reason other than to inform the audience as to what they are doing, Sparrow goes on to set up Turner with a barrage of questions his character should have no business caring about at this point. And all this for the sole purpose of allowing Will to blather on about his personal life. Point being: I don’t give a shit, just swing the god damn blades. The fact that Turner smiths his own swords and knows how to use them—is a given. Doesn’t need explaining. This is pandering to the children and stupid adults in the audience, and I hate that.
Why Do You Care!?
Second, there are several really silly and groan inducing attempts at macho witticism peppered within. For instance: During the attack of Port Royal, one of the invading pirates grabs Will in the chaos and grunts, “Say goodbye!” [just then, a sign swings down, knocking the pirate through a shop window] Will: “Goodbye.” ~cringe~ But, other than those small gripes, POTC:TCOTBP is a solid and highly enjoyable action-adventure film.
The story is clever, exciting, well-paced and aside from the couple aforementioned issues I took, superbly written. The characters are simple, fun, easy to love, endearing and manage to avoid being too cliché (no peg-legs, no eye-patches), thus giving the actors a slightly higher drive to make their roles memorable.
The action is fast-paced, beautifully shot and choreographed. The music is gripping, catchy and almost completely lifted from an academy award winning best picture (GLADIATOR). And when all of the above is combined with the stunning set-design, detailed costumes, equally detailed and realistic props, an excellent writers/director combo and Keira Knightley’s adorable pout; it makes for a perfect summer event film. And truthfully, one of my favorite films of the decade. It’s a must see.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Orlando Bloom is William ‘Will’ Turner (the guy behind Johnny).
Apparently Turner is the main character of this film, yet I can’t seem to remember him too much. Must have spent most of time standing behind Capn’ Jack…
OK, to be fair, Bloom plays arguably the toughest role in the film. His character hates pirates (boo), betrays Sparrow (Boo!) and actually has reservations about gorilla fucking Keira Knightley (ARGHH BOO!). But, he is for some reason, still highly likable. Turner is the straight man (by that I mean, he plays the part of a foil for a comedic partner). His intentions are good, his love is pure, he’d give his life for honor and he’s pretty good with a sword. Will is essentially all you can ask for of a hero in a classic adventure film, such as this. Plus, he’s almost as sexy as Elizabeth Swann.
Keira Knightley is Miss. Elizabeth Swann
While the badassitude of her character isn’t fully realized or utilized until late in the second installment, Lizzy is still quite fun to watch. Of course by that I mean, I’d like to ravage her like typhoon. I must admit, I sort of fell in lust with Miss. Knightley after this picture, and for this reason, I can’t really think of anything negative to comment on about her character. Swann is very much a feminine aristocratic damsel, but with a saucy untapped heart of a sea-faring adventurer. She fights for her man, and refuses to give up hope, even when placed in dire straights. Plus, she’s almost as sexy as Captain Jack.
Johnny Depp is Dreamy—er, Captain Jack Sparrow
Town Clerk: “Jack Sparrow, be it known that you have been charged, tried and convicted for your willful commission of crime against the crown. Said crimes being numerous in quantity and sinister in nature. The most egregious of these to be cited herewith. Piracy, smuggling, falsification of…impersonating an officer of the Spanish Royal Navy; impersonating a clergy of the Church of England. Sailing under false colors, arson, kidnapping, looting, poaching, brigandage, pilfering, depravity, depredation and general lawlessness.”
Though I hardly felt the urge to scream out in orgasmic glee or laugh nervously EVERY time he appeared on screen (like most of the audience members did when I saw this), I did find myself quite taken with the character. One would be hard pressed to find a more lovable and entertaining (and gorgeous) scoundrel in modern cinema. Depp excretes charisma and charm like a dock-side tavern whore excretes seamen.
On top of having one of the greatest entrances of all time*, Capn’ Jack manages to continually one-up himself on the likability scale, every time you see him. And the odd thing about this is, his character dictates that the exact opposite reaction should be felt. Sparrow is: A coward, a thief, a murderer, a liar, a cheat, a fornicator and a general all-around black-spot on society’s collective ass—yet you can’t help but love him all the more for it. Which says a lot about the power of Depp’s performance. Of course, deep, deep down Jack has a good soul and a heart of slightly-tarnished gold, but it is in those layers of filth on top of it that lie the captivating essence of his fan base’s helpless desire to root for this scallywag to become a triumphant savior of the day. All-in-all, and as much as it pains me to side with the popular consensus, Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the greatest action-adventure ‘heroes’ of all time. Plus, he’s almost as sexy as Indiana Jones. Almost.
* It’s the first clear moment that tells the audience this film will not be taking itself too seriously, which is good because any film based on pirates without a single raping should not be.
[THE BODY COUNT: AROUND 30]
Seeing as how the cursed pirates are immortal until the very end (spoiler), the major bulk of killing goes to them, through the means of blade and bullet. However, just before the curse is broken 6 pirates are dismembered, through various means and there is no way they would have been able to re-assemble themselves in time to avoid instant death upon the lifting of the curse. Add to that two more; one by blade, one by bullet, after the heathen god’s blood sacrifice is paid and you have yourself one bloody little Disney film.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & DEATH]
Sparrow vs. Barbossa
Barbossa: “Are we to be two immortals locked in an epic battle until judgment day and the trumpets sound?”
Sparrow: “Or, you could surrender.”
They saved the best for last. Legendary blade master and sword-fight choreographer, Bob Anderson, makes his involvement with the film clear as Caribbean island water, with this epic dual of the cursed captains.
The ballet of blades occurs in, around and during the climatic battle of pirates vs. British soldiers, while the main event escalates on shore amid the heaps of stolen booty in the film’s remarkable treasure cove set. The outcome of which is left up to wits, as neither man can die. So, who better to come out on top, than Witty Jack Sparrow? Well, Barbossa for one—but that’s just not in the cards, mate.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Though he possesses many feminine characteristics and mannerisms, Sparrow is too queer to be categorized gay. At least in my opinion. Add to this the fact that he has a history of wanton sexual escapades with sea-side wenches and spends most of the film trying to slimily woo Elizabeth—he leaves me with little to go on about.
There is, however, Orlando Bloom.
A man so pretty, even his facial hair has a feminine twinge to it. Given the chance, I know I’d probably toss some sea-spray in his general direction.
Also, along with, and aside from, the main male characters, every one seems to be paired up and off with a another.
And it’s not too difficult to spot the gay undertones of their relationships, so I’ll just leave it at its face value.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
“You Will Speak When Spoken To!”
Like most women of the time, the female characters are either trophies and bargaining chips for family alliances; or vagrants, servants and general all-around cum-dumpsters.
Elizabeth begins the film as a relatively up-tight and proper British lady, with dreams of commoner decadence. Yet, in an odd twist, ends up having a character-arch outside of the typical damsel in distress and throughout the course of the film, she actually becomes a strong-willed and only slightly laughable heroine.
All the other women, however, remain whores. With the exception of Zoe Saldana’s character, who disappears between installments. Though holding true to my statement, I choose to believe that Sparrow simply tired of her squabbling and left her to become a sex slave in a soiled shanty town at the far edge of the sea.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
Barbossa: “Gents—take a walk.”
As for the one liner, I have to go with:
A Pirate: I’m gonna teach you the meaning of pain.
Elizabeth: You like pain? [hits pirate in the head with a pole] Try wearing a corset.
I’m just kidding. I can’t stand that line. It makes me cringe. My real favorite bit of dialogue is the following…
Miss. Swann: “Captain Barbossa, I am here to negotiate cessation of hostilities against Port Royal.”
Barbossa: “There were a lot of long words in there, Miss. We’re not but humble pirates. What is it that you want?”
Miss. Swann: “I want you to leave and never come back.”
Barbossa: “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request…”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
“The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’, than actual rules.”
[THE CHECKLIST: 17 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Factory/Warehouse
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice