You know, I have heard of some weird ideas for the basis of movies. I mean, there are toy-lines, board games, video games. But in 2003, a new basis was used for a movie; an amusement park ride. When I first heard about this, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I mean, who in their right mind would make a movie based off of a Disney ride. Who would have ever guessed that it would go on to become one of the biggest hits of the year and create one of the most popular film characters of the 21st century. So let’s grab some rum and sit down to watch today’s movie, Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl.
The plot: In the 18th century, Governor Weatherby Swann and his daughter Elizabeth are making their way to Port Royal, Jamaica on a ship along with Lt. James Norrington and First Mate Mr. Gibbs. After talking about pirates with Norrington and Gibbs, Elizabeth notices a small boy drifting on a piece of wood and calls out to alert the others. As the boy is brought on board, Mr. Gibbs alerts the crew to the burning wreckage of a ship ahead of them. As search parties go to look for survivors, Elizabeth is tasked with watching over the boy, who briefly wakes up and says his name is Will Turner before passing out again. Elizabeth notices a gold medallion with a skull on it around Will’s neck and realizes he is a pirate’s son but takes the medallion and keeps that information from Norrington when he asks about the boy. Later, Elizabeth is at the back of the ship staring at the medallion when she sees a ghostly pirate ship sailing off into the fog. 8 years later, Elizabeth wakes up after having a dream of the incident and opens her bedside dresser to find the medallion, which she puts on. When her father knocks on the door, she quickly hides it under her bight gown before he enters, bringing a dress from Paris for her to wear to Norrington’s promotion ceremony. Gov. Swann is called away to receive a visitor, which turns out to be Will Turner, who became an apprentice to the local black smith and is bringing the sword for Norrington’s ceremony. When Elizabeth comes down stairs, she is excited to see Will and mentions she had dreamed about the day they met but is put off when Will refuses to call her Elizabeth, always referring to her as “Miss Swann”, and she quickly leaves with her father, not hearing Will saying “Good day, Elizabeth” as she leaves. Meanwhile, Captain Jack Sparrow is sailing into Port Royal on a small, leaky boat, which ends up sinking just as he reaches the dock. After paying off the harbor master to not report his name, Jack quickly steals the money the harbor master had already collected and makes his way to the Naval docks, where he intends to steal a ship but is stopped by two soldiers on guard duty. As Jack and the two guards talk about the ships in the docks, Jack mentions a ship called the Black Pearl, but one of the guards scoff and says that it is only a story. Meanwhile, Norrington is promoted to Commodore and after the ceremony, takes Elizabeth aside and speaks to her about possibly marrying her but Elizabeth, unable to catch her breath due to the bodice she is wearing, passes out and falls from the top of the fort to the water below. Jack and the two guards see her fall and when the guards reveal they can’t swim, Jack hands them his things and dives in after her. While she is underwater, the medallion she is wearing sends out a pulse, which the guards see on the surface, and the weather suddenly starts to turn stormy. Jack manages to save Elizabeth, and after cutting off the bodice to allow her to breathe, spots the medallion and asks her where she got it. Norrington and his men suddenly appear, along with Gov. Swann, and hold Jack at gunpoint but Elizabeth asks that they spare the man who saved his life. However, when Norrington goes to shake Jack’s hand, he reveals the brand of a pirate on his arm, and recognizes the tattoo that reveals Jack’s identity, Norrington orders his men to put Jack in chains, despite Elizabeth’s protests. Once the manacles are on Jack, he quickly wraps the chain around Elizabeth’s neck and holds her hostage, telling them to bring him his possessions and once he has them back, he shoves Elizabeth into the crowd and manages to escape. As the soldiers search the city for him, Jack makes his way to the local blacksmith and, after finding the blacksmith passed out drunk, he attempts to break the chain on the manacle. Just as he breaks the chain, Will returns to the shop and is confronted by Jack but Will, knowing that Jack had threatened Elizabeth, uses the swords he had forged in the shop to fight with Jack. Jack eventually gets the upperhand and threatens to shoot Will if he won’t move but when Will refuses to move out of the way, Jack reluctantly cocks the gun, saying the single shot he had is not meant for him. Before he can pull the trigger, Jack is knocked unconscious by the blacksmith just as Norrington and the soldiers arrive and place Jack in jail. That night, the Black Pearl sails into Port Royal and begins firing on the fort and the town before the pirate crew head ashore and begin looting the place. A group of pirates head towards the governor’s mansion and two of them chase after Elizabeth, saying she has something that calls out to them but just as they catch her, she demands to parley with their captain and the two agree to take her to him. In town, Will is fighting off the pirates when he sees Elizabeth being taken but as he goes to follow, he is knocked unconscious. Meanwhile, a cannonball manages to break the wall in one of the cells, freeing all of the prisoners except for Jack. Suddenly, two of the pirates enter the room, mistaking it for the armory and spying Jack in the cell, begin to taunt them but when Jack taunts them back, one of the pirates grab Jack and the moonlight reveal his arm to be skeletal, causing Jack to remark about the curse being real, before they let him go and leave. Elizabeth is taken on board the Black Pearl and meets with Captain Barbossa and offers to give him the gold piece in exchange for the pirates leaving. When Barbossa asks Elizabeth for her name, she tells him she is Elizabeth Turner, which causes Barbossa and the crew to murmur among themselves before Barbossa agrees to leave but takes Elizabeth with them. The next day, Will regains consciousness and informs Norrington and Gov. Swann about Elizabeth being taken but Norrington has Will thrown out. Will goes to see Jack to find out about the Black Pearl but Jack refuses to help him until Will says he can get him out of jail. Jack asks Will his name and upon hearing it, agrees to help Will and Will quickly breaks him out of jail. The two head to the docks, where Jack plans on stealing the Interceptor, which is being prepared to sail after the Black Pearl, but to do so, the two head over to the Dauntless and take it over. When Norrington sees this, he heads over in the Interceptor but as Norrington and the crew board the Dauntless to search for Will and Jack, the two men quickly swing over to the Interceptor and set sail, having disabled the Dauntless so it can’t pursue them. As they are sailing, Will ask Jack about his father, as he figured out that Jack knew him and Jack says that Will’s father was a pirate named Bootstrap Bill, which Will has a hard time accepting. The two sail to Tortuga, where Jack finds his friend Gibbs and the two share a drink and Jack mentions his plan. When Jack mentions that Will is Bootstrap’s son, Gibbs agrees to help and goes to find a crew. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is forced to dine with Barbossa and he tells her about the medallion she had, saying it was Aztec gold from a chest Cortez stole. The gold was cursed which Barbossa and his crew discovered when they found the chest and stole the gold. Afterwards, when they discovered the curse was real, they went searching for all of the gold pieces they had spent and the one Elizabeth has was the last piece, and they need her blood to satisfy the curse. The next morning, Jack and Will meet the crew Gibbs has assembled and they set sail after the Black Pearl. During the voyage, Will asks Gibbs about Jack and Gibbs reveals that Jack was the original captain of the Black Pearl but Barbossa instigated a mutiny and left Jack stranded on an island. Barbossa and his disembark the Black Pearl when they reach the island that they store all their treasure in and take Elizabeth ashore. When the Interceptor arrives at the island, Jack and Will head ashore and witness Barbossa preparing to use Elizabeth to break the curse but as Jack goes down to speak with the pirates, Will knocks him out. Barbossa cuts Elizabeth’s hand and places the medallion in it, then releases the blood stained piece to fall into the chest with the others but the curse is still in effect. Barbossa asks if William Turner was her father and she says know, causing Barbossa to strike her, sending Elizabeth and the medallion tumbling down the pile of gold. As the pirates argue with Barbossa over what happened, Will swims over to Elizabeth and gets her to follow him, and she grabs the medallion as they leave. Barbossa’s monkey spots them and alerts Barbossa, but when the pirates go to chase after them, they find the oars to their ships are gone just as Jack stumbles up to them. Barbossa speaks with Jack and is about to kill him but Jack says that he knows whose blood they need. Will and Elizabeth make it to the Interceptor and they leave but the Black Pearl gives chase and as the pirate ship catches up to them, Will and the others decide to fight. Realizing they are outmatched, Will goes to grab the medallion, just as a cannon blast takes out the Interceptor’s main mast, trapping him below decks. As the fight rages on, Elizabeth, Jack, Gibbs and the crew are captured and the Interceptor is destroyed but Will managed to escape before the explosion and climbs on board the Black Pearl. Will demands that Elizabeth be set free and the crew unharmed or he will kill himself, revealing that he is Bootstrap Bill’s son, and Barbossa agrees, and has Will and the crew thrown in the brig while he maroons Elizabeth and Jack on the same island he marooned Jack on 10 years ago. On the island, Elizabeth questions Jack about how he got off the island the last time and he tells her he was there for three days before rum runners that used the island picked him up but due to Norrington’s efforts, they apparently no longer use the island. The two end up drinking the rum but when Jack gets drunk and passes out, Elizabeth proceeds to burn all of the rum, making a pillar of smoke that is spotted by the Dauntless, which picks them up. Once on board, Elizabeth asks that they go rescue Will but Gov. Swann and Norrington refuse until Elizabeth says that it could be considered a wedding present for her, and Norrington has Jack tell him where the Black Pearl is headed. Back on the Black Pearl, Will speaks with some of the pirates, who tell them how Bootstrap died. Outside the island, Jack convinces Norrington to let him go outside and convince the pirates to come out and Norrington agrees, but after Jack leaves, he has the majority of his men head out after him so they can ambush the pirates. Inside the cave, Barbossa is about to kill Will when Jack appears and convinces him not to kill Will yet, as they will all be killed by the Dauntless when they leave. He then convinces Barbossa to send his men out to attack the Dauntless before lifting the curse but unnoticed by anyone but Will, Jack had swiped one of the cursed gold pieces and Will figures out Jack’s plan. Barbossa sends two of his pirates out in a boat dressed as women to distract the Dauntless while the rest of his crew, except for himself and three others, walk along the sea bottom towards the ship. Meanwhile, Elizabeth manages to sneak off of the Dauntless and make her way towards the Black Pearl, where she manages to free the crew and tries to get them to help her but they refuse and instead, send her out alone while they sail off in the Black Pearl. Back on the Dauntless, the pirates manage to sneak on board and start killig off the crew but one of them manages to ring the alarm bell, alerting Norrington as to what is happening and he has his men head back to the ship to join the fight. Inside the cave, Jack turns on Barbossa and tosses Will a sword before fighting with Barbossa while Will fights the other pirates. At one point, Barbossa stabs Jack with his sword but Jack falls into the moonlight, and reveals the gold piece he stole before he continues the fight. Elizabeth enters the cave and helps Will in fighting the pirates and after dealing with them, he heads towards the chest with the gold pieces and Jack quickly cuts his hand and closing his bloody fist around the gold piece he stole, he throws it to Will. Barbossa sees this and aims his pistol at Elizabeth but Jack shoots Barbossa. Barbossa mocks Jack until Will calls out to him and drops both his and Jacks blood-soaked pieces of gold into the chest, breaking the curse. Barbossa checks his wound and discovers blood pouring from it and he collapses. Back on the Dauntless, Norrington stabs one of the pirates, who is surprised to find he is bleeding before he dies and the other pirates quickly surrender after seeing this. Inside the cave, Jack asks that Will and Elizabeth take him to his ship but when he learns that they sailed without him, he accepts his fate. Sometime later, Jack is being made ready to hang in Port Royal but Will helps him escape the noose and they try to get away but are soon cornered. Will and Elizabeth stand in front of Norrington’s men and Gov. Swann tells them to lower their weapons. Jack sees the parrot from Mr. Cotton (one of his crew) and he falls off the ledge of the fort into the water, where the Black Pearl is seen heading towards him. Back at the fort, Will goes to accept his punishment from Norrington but Norrington instead wishes him well with Elizabeth and walks off, telling his subordinate that they will give Jack one day’s head start. Gov. Swann questions Elizabeth on her decision to choose Will, saying he is just a blacksmith but she responds that he is a pirate and the two kiss while her father silently consents to their relationship. Meanwhile, Jack is picked up and takes command of the Black Pearl and heads off while back on the island, Barbossa’s monkey swims over to the chest and grabs a piece of gold, becoming a cursed immortal again.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl met with positive reviews from the critics, earning a certified fresh rating of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “May leave you exhausted like the theme park ride that inspired it; however, you’ll have a good time when it’s over.” All of the critics praised Johnny Depp’s performance of Jack Sparrow and he would indeed create a character that has since become one of the greatest film characters of all time, coming in at 14 in a list of the top 100 film characters of all time in 2015. The movie was a box office hit, earning over $654.3 million off of a $140 million budget and would spawn three sequels with a fourth one coming due to be released in 2017.
This is an absolutely fantastic movie to watch. The acting was great, with Johnny Depp really stealing the show with his performance but Geoffery Rush (Barbossa), Orlando Bloom (Will), Kiera Knightley (Elizabeth), and Kevin McNally (Gibbs) doing a great jobs in their own right. The writing did it’s job of telling a great story and mixing equal parts comedy and action in it, with some drama added as well. The action scenes were very well choreographed but while there were plenty of times that the special effects looked good, there were a couple of times where the skeletal pirates just looked silly. All in all, a fun movie that brought the pirate genre back to a sense of relevance in movies.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5