Dead men tell no tales...
And men that live sometimes tell too many tales...
I made that last part up myself. :)
The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is not only a terribly long title for a movie, but it is an interesting movie. I've always found pirates in general fascinating, excepting certain of their ghastly practices. The adventure, the daring, the sailing, etc... that, to me, is thrilling. No, I wouldn't participate in their horrific crimes, and I certainly don't condone them, either, but piracy in all the adventurous aspects, and I'm sure Margaret Dashwood would agree with me, is interesting.
(Pirates, Be Ye Warned: Spoilers! Spoilers!)
So, a story about pirates. But wait, there's more. This particular story includes not only pirates, but governors, blacksmiths, and curses as well. The Black Pearl is a ship (not a rare treasure from an oyster) with black sails (duh!) and supposedly belongs to Captain Jack Sparrow, but at the start of the movie, the vessel rests under the command of a certain Captain Barbossa. How did this switch occur? Mutiny.
I don't know that much about ships, so I won't elaborate more on that point. Let's move on instead to the characters.
Jack Sparrow. Captain Jack Sparrow, if you please. Left on an island to die, escaping on a rum runner's ship, borrowing a boat without permission but with every intention of bringing it back (which he didn't), remembering the day that he almost escaped, having no manner of luck at all, and later commandeering a ship with a rash young man named Turner, Jack Sparrow has become the pirate everybody has heard of. Whether he the worst pirate or the best pirate you've ever heard of, I'll leave that up to you to debate.
If you can't already tell, this is an extremely quotable movie. I can't help inserting quotes as I write these film reviews, and this particular film has many exceptional quotes, so bear with me.
Jack, in a nutshell, is very selfish. He's the epitome of pirates. Since Barbossa took over, all he wants is his precious ship back. Not just the keel, and the hull, and the deck... but what the Black Pearl really is... freedom. Jack's actions really make up the majority of the story, as he often does things without thinking how it will affect those around him. While you really don't want to like him, his odd mannerisms and speech just make him memorable and thus partially likable. But what was the point of the mutiny? The pirates all wanted to sail to an island that supposedly no one could find and get the fabled treasure of Aztec gold. Jack was less certain due to a legendary curse placed on the gold (more on that later), and he was marooned by a bunch of angry pirates, losing his precious Black Pearl. After escaping (and not on a raft made of sea turtles), he wants to commandeer a ship, pick up a bucaneer crew in Tortuga, and go get his ship back. At least, that's his plan, until he's caught, branded a pirate, placed in a cell with half pin barrel hinges on the door, and awaiting a short drop and a sudden stop.
|"Will... nice hat." :)|
Will (William) Turner is a poor blacksmith, hopelessly in love with the governor's daughter, Elizabeth Swann. He works hard and does well with his job, making all the swords and practicing with them three hours a day so that when he meets a pirate, he can kill it. When Elizabeth is taken aboard the Black Pearl, Will teams up with the aforementioned Jack to save her, even though he despises pirates as a whole. I respect his honorable intentions to put his own life at risk to save the woman he loves, but I couldn't say that Will is my favorite character. I guess I see too much of a pointy eared elvish princeling in him to take him seriously. Will's father is supposedly a good respectable merchant who obeyed the law, but when Will meets Jack, he discovers that his father was nothing of the sort. He was a pirate, named Bootstrap Bill Turner. Poor Will... he hates pirates, then is forced to collaborate with a pirate to save the woman he loves, and then finds out his own father was a pirate. Not really his day, right? Well, to make things better, Bootstrap never approved of Jack's mutiny, and due to this disapproval he himself was sent down to Davy Jones' locker not long after they got rid of Jack, with a cannon tied to his bootstraps ("Bootstraps' bootstraps.").
Elizabeth Swann... hmm. Honestly, I really don't like her. She seemed as if she was plopped right down into the movie in the midst of all those pirates just so that Disney could stick in a romance angle. :P Yes, she loves Will, and she's willing to marry Commodore Norrington so Will's life would be saved, but her character, to me, was more annoying than amazing. That, and it's always, “Avert your eyes to the heavens!” whenever she walks on screen (that's the code in our house for objectionable costuming). Seriously? She invokes the right of parley when pirates attack her home, and she bravely journeys to the black ship to negotiate the hostilities against Port Royal. Her mistake comes when she lies about her name and who she is and gives her name as Elizabeth Turner, instead of Elizabeth Swann. More on that in a bit.
Captain Barbossa is the last of the four big characters. What do I think of him? He's a man full of mistakes. He's consumed with the tale of Aztec gold right from the beginning, and then after taking the gold and frittering it away on food and drink and pleasurable company, he realizes that it was the wrong thing to do, that the curse really is real, and he bitterly regrets his choice to take the gold. Then follows the daunting task of reversing the curse, sending Barbossa to many ports to retrieve the gold pieces he frittered away with his crew members. One trip takes him right to Port Royal, the home of Elizabeth and Will, and the very place Jack is currently staying.
Then you've got Governor Swann, a well intentioned man who wants what's best for his daughter, Commodore Norrington, who also loves Elizabeth and is very committed to his duties, and Mr. Gibbs. That last, I believe, is one of my favorite characters. He's probably Jack's biggest fan, always believing every tale of him even when the truth seemed a bit stretched.
This movie is a hard one to recommend because of some of the content. I'm very glad for our parent guardian on our DVD player which takes out all nefarious profanity, and I'd recommend that anyone who'd watch this movie use some sort of language filter as pirates do not necessarily have the cleanest of language. There are a couple of instances where the characters don't actually swear but say some things that best left unheard and unsaid. I don't condone the language in this movie.
But what of the curse? According to Barbossa, the Aztec gold that the pirates steal is cursed, making them unable to die but also unable to satisfy themselves with food and drink. The curse was placed on the gold pieces by the “heathen gods” (gods of wood and stone that neither see nor hear) when they saw the selfishness of Hernando Cortez and the suffering he inflicted on the Aztec people.
When Barbossa and his men took the gold for themselves and their own pleasures, they became part of that curse. Kinda creepy if you think about it long enough. The only way to free themselves of this curse was to return all the gold pieces back to the original chest they were found in, and each man who took a piece must repay his crime by blood. "By blood" means a prick of the finger, a few drops of blood. No reason to fret. Until the pirates realize that Bootstrap's blood was also needed to lift the curse, and because they got rid of him, he's not there, and neither is his blood. So, they need Bootstrap's child, for in his child's veins runs the same blood, the blood that will lift their curse. When Elizabeth tells Barbossa she's a Turner, the pirates rejoice in succeeding in finding the child, but when Elizabeth's blood doesn't reverse the curse, the truth comes out, and the pirates must find the real child.
Jack, having been told Will's name, knows that Will is Bootstrap's only child, and he plans to use Will as a bargaining chip in order to get his ship back. Ooh, the plot thickens. I won't say how all that works out, because that would be giving away too many spoilers. :)
The choreography in this film is amazing. Some of the sword scenes were very cleverly crafted, and it's fun to watch them. My favorite scene is the one between Jack and Will in the blacksmith's shop. Epic. (“You cheated.” “Pirate.”) My brother and I have often tried to replicate that scene, but we haven't quite figured out how to fight on the rafters yet.
For those of you who are squeamish, be warned that there is blood in this movie. It's pirates, hello! I really don't mind the blood, as it's not shown in a huge amount of gory detail.
And lastly, yes, I know that Disney has made sequels to this movie, but I would not recommend them. I've seen the second and third movies, disliked them both only after one viewing, and I really don't have any interest in the fourth one. Mermaids and zombies in a pirate movie? Come on, people!
I think that's it. So, moving on to final thoughts:
Rating out of 5 stars: 4 stars.
Did I enjoy The Curse of the Black Pearl? For the most part, yes.
Would I watch it again? Yes, I would. Probably about once a year.
Would I recommend it to other people? Yes and no. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone as a definite family friendly film, but it is an enjoyable movie.