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Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

by on 2012/01/14

“Bad luck to have a woman on board, too. Even a miniature one.”

* * *

My favorite teenager Miss_Tree got back from Disneyland in Anaheim, CA last month. She spent the weeks before Christmas  beach combing, walking down Hollywood Boulevard and taking in the plastic fantastic-ness that is Disneyland.

She reported that the Pirates of the Caribbean ride wasn’t her favorite. She preferred the Tower of Terror, because of the, you know, terror.

Not so much the terror on the Pirates ride, she reported.

We saw this movie when it first came out. I was left feeling meh. I decided to blame Disney. Because I like blaming Disney. It just feels right.

However, as I am tackling genre firsts this month, I decided to fish out this first instalment of the series from my ready-to-explode DVD cabinet. This time, I resolved to approach this film with open (heavily mascaraed and black-lined) eyes.

This second screening now complete, I can honestly say I liked it. Well, most of it.

Yes, yes Disney tends to make sand-blasted, sanitized content. Even the scary bits have the feel of an amusement park haunted house. But there was something authentic and decidedly odd about this movie. That odd authenticity can be rested entirely at the dirty leather boots of Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands).

Depp supplies the human soul in a Disney-created bundle of CGI “magic.”

Everyone now knows the story behind Johnny Depp’s inspiration for the character – Captain Jack Sparrow is a mix of the substance-abusing stagger of Rolling Stones brain stem Keith Richards and skunk Cassanova Pepé Le Pew. You need the eccentricity of a non-conformist to fuse those two characters together.

In fact, I like to think that it is that self-same eccentricity that would probably prevent Mr. Depp from getting a job at Disneyland. I was once told that Disney hires people based on how often they smile – and how big they smile – during the job interview.

I can only imagine Depp smiling at the Disney hiring manager – with missing teeth in an angora sweater a la Ed Wood.

End of fantasy sequence.

All of that said, I don’t think this first Pirates is perfect. I just don’t like Geoffrey Rush, who plays the doomed and profoundly unlikable Captain Barbossa. Nope, I don’t like him even a little. I attribute this immature objection to the fact that I saw The Banger Sisters on a bus and after seeing this hideous Goldie Hawn and Sarah Sarandon vehicle, featuring Geoffrey Rush – I was never, ever the same again.

Yes, I know I am being unfair. I just don’t care.

Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom are fine. British – and pretty to look at both moving and sitting still.

But it is Johnny Depp is who truly great in Curse of the Black Pearl. He deserves every single last one of the many, many dollars – private island money – he earned for his work on this franchise.

So says I.


* * *

143 minutes

Rated PG-13 for Mackenzie Crook’s wooden prosthetic eye, Depp and Bloom sword fighting, and legions of decaying, doomed pirates cutting throats and taking names

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