Movie Review by Reece De Ville
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley
Director: Gore Verbinski
It’s the highest of high concepts. A movie based on a theme park ride. But wait, ‘the film is hardly anything to do with the ride! It’s a completely different experience!’ they cry. Silly me. Of course Hollywood wouldn’t just take the name of a popular theme park ride add a sprinkling of script, a bucketful of action and mix to make the most incredibly uninspired film of the year… or would they?
Ok, so here’s the deal o cynical reader. Captain Barbossa (Rush) and his crew of dastardly pirates have been cursed. On taking a large shipment of Spanish booty onboard, the crew of the Black Pearl fall prey to a fate worse than scurvy – a dose of the undead. Fated to walk the earth as living corpses until they recover every last piece of the gold taken all those years ago (I believe this was part of a ‘plot’ – I wouldn’t let it worry you too much), Barbossa’s crew are chased by the former captain of the Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow (Depp), blacksmith Will Turner (Bloom) and Governor Swann’s (Price) daughter Elizabeth (Knightley). Much buckling of the swash ensues along with a healthy dose of splicing the main brace (look, just buy me a book of pirate cliches for Christmas and I’ll be happy) and as the film draws to a close, the distant cry of the sea is heard: “Arrrh! There be the smell of franchise in them there waters!”
However, what makes PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN so much fun is the wonderful performances by Depp and Rush, along with the breakneck speed and inventiveness of Verbinski’s direction. Depp’s Jack Sparrow is almost like watching a video diary of Keith Richard’s Caribbean holiday as he overplays and mugs shamelessly to the camera. Still, it’s a pirate movie – can you really overplay in such a film? Rush too is excellent with the right amount of menace and wit helping to bring the, somewhat tragic, story of Barbossa to life. This isn’t just a one-note performance from either actor and it’s great to see two such talented character actors kick off their comfortable shoes and take it to the limit. Bloom and Knightley are perhaps the film’s main weak link, playing their parts with enough gusto, but little range. Of course, both are relatively new to filmmaking and do spark when on screen together, but one wonders if it will have to take a barnstorming performance in the upcoming NED KELLY to alter the opinion of Bloom being a rather bland, yet serviceable performer. Knightley seems to have a better time of it, playing both the prude governor’s daughter and the feisty pirate lass with a great deal of energy.
Of course, the real stars of the picture are the undead pirates themselves. With each pirate’s undead CGI model moving exactly like it’s human counterpart, the team at Industrial Light and Magic have really excelled themselves here – evoking their work in the INDIANA JONES trilogy. Indeed, there are a fair few grisly moments for adults to wince at and for children to be both delighted and scared witless by.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL is a likeable romp that is perfect Saturday night entertainment fodder. Leave your bitter, cynical old adult at the cinema door, and go take your inner child for a cruise in the shark-infested waters of Depp and his salty sea dogs. Arrrhhh!!!