IMDB #238 Pirates Of The Carribean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl

Surprise! I wasn’t on pace for another one of these at least until Obama’s inauguration. But who am I to turn down inexplicable bursts of productivity? And seeing as everyone in the world has seen today’s entrant in the countdown, there’s no need to recap the plot of Pirates Of The Carribean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl at all. So while we’re here, let’s settle this once and for all: It’s pronounced ca-RIB-bean, not carri-BE-an. You can even listen to a Miriam-Webster robot get it right. (A sidenote: I find I hilarious that the Wikipedia page “List of words of disputed pronunciation” has a note that says “the factual accuracy of this page is disputed.”)

The Key Players:

Director Gore Verbinski’s biggest claim to fame before PotC (as the kids call it) was The Ring, the English remake that kicked off the huge wave of (mostly) forgettable J-Horror remakes. He also put in time taking paychecks for Mousehunt, and doing a pale Soderberg imitation with The Mexican.

Johnny Depp is Johnny Depp.

Orlando Bloom is of course mostly famous for playing Legolas in the LotR trilogy (the kids, they really don’t like to spell things out) and delivering my single favorite line of the trilogy for unintentional comedy purposes (where, in Return Of The King, they discuss the plan to draw out Sauron’s troops and clear the way for Frodo for about ten minutes before good ol’ Legolas is all like “A diversion!” (at the 9:30 mark here)).

Keira Knightley broke out in Bend It Like Beckham (which I’ll see someday when I’m a thirteen-year-old girl) and is now a Serious Actress in Serious films with accents and wigs.

Geoffrey Rush won an Academy Award for Shine, and my personal favorites of his storied career include Intolerable Cruelty, Quills, and Shakespeare In Love (which is inexplicably not on this countdown, by the way. This is a tragedy, people that rate things on imdb! I will literally fight anyone who thinks that Saving Private Ryan (#57 on this countdown) should’ve won Best Picture instead).

The cast is filled out by faces either familiar from other things (hey, it’s Jonathan Pryce from Brazil!, and the Dwight from the British Office!), or familiar from this trilogy. Also, there’s a monkey and a parrot.

The Story:

So there’s these Pirates, in the Carribbean, and they need to get some black pearls from some black oysters, but then some ninjas show up and they have a giant ninja/pirate brawl and uh…. Has anyone really not seen it, but also happens to be reading this obscure page on the internet? I say no.

The Artisticness:

Lesson learned on style: 1) Gore Verbinski really likes blue lighting or orange lighting. 2) Jerry Bruckheimer (producer extraordinaire) really likes action sequences that go on 20% longer than necessary. 3) If Keira Knightley doesn’t have enough cleavage for your purposes, you can always paint some more on.

But the honest strength of this movie, beyond Depp’s Oscar-nominated Keith Richards impression, is Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio’s screenplay. It’s sprightly witty, in a sort of Tom Stoppard (but more accessible) way, and this first installment of the PotC series is actually pretty tightly plotted. In subsequent entires they went a little haywire, but there’s not a spare moment in Black Pearl.

But seriously, this movie is funny like a screwball comedy from the 30’s. Depp and Rush get to ham it up all they want amongst Bloom, Knightley, and a host of other British straight-people. And there are not one but two Useless-Comic-Duos, one of hapless Pirates and one of hapless Redcoats.

The playfulness of the script even pervades to the Rube-Goldberg-machine-like action sequences, which utilize pulleys, catapults and levers (though this may be an influence of it being based on a theme-park attraction, naturally. I’ve never been to Disneyworld, myself.)

Finally, Klaus Badelt's score is one of the few instantly recognizable modern classics, with only Howard Shore's LotR themes quicker to remind me of the film it's from when I hear it (among films from this decade).


This is clearly the first film wherein the writers weren't absolutely sure they would be writing sequels, so it’s definitely the most satisfying conclusion. The hero gets the girl, the Pirate gets the ship, etc.

There’s an annoying trend these days (I call it the Pirates/Matrix Syndrome), in which a pretty awesome blockbuster will do well enough to spawn sequels, and then immediately we’re treated to two (or more) films that don’t tell satisfying tales in and of themselves, and don’t even come close to living up to the original movie.

Some series avoid this by having a plan for future stories already in place (LotR), or focusing on one film at a time (hence Spider-Man 2 improving on the first).


Overall: Should It Be Higher, Lower?

I’d say this seems appropriately weighted, in the larger scheme of things. It’s not often a large-scale action adventure movie (an original one, no less), goes for such an oddball, crowd-pleasing tone and hits all the right notes.

The Legacy:

Of course, if Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End weren’t over-plotted, overlong, and filled with bizarre stretches of exposition regarding half-crustacean people, voodoo goddesses, and the East India Trading Company, maybe The Curse Of The Black Pearl wouldn’t look as awesome in comparison. (For the record, I own all three, and I’ll probably see the upcoming fourth. They’re still entertaining, just not as awesome. Ah, well).

Otherwise, Johnny Depp now stands as one of the world biggest movie-stars in addition to already being one of the world’s coolest, but the brief making-movies-from-theme-park-rides trend died immediately with The Haunted Mansion.

The Best Video Of It On YouTube:

Well, the whole thing is on YouTube (starting here), but since there's no way that's legal we'll go with the scene after the credits, because monkeys=awesome. Seriously, Owning A Pet Monkey is high on the list of things I dream about but would never actually do (like Robbing A Bank, or Joining The CIA).

Leftover Thoughts (Favorite Quotes Edition):

-“Clearly you’ve never been to Singapore”

-“You cheated!” “Pirate.”

-“Spiritually, ecumenically…grammatically.”

-“Oh, not you. We named the monkey Jack.”

-“That would be the French.”

-“…and then they made me their chief.”

-"A wedding? I love weddings! Drinks all around!"

-“Lovely singing voice, though - eunuch.”

1 Response to "IMDB #238 Pirates Of The Carribean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl"

  1. notemily says:


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