Thursday, August 12, 2010

#51 - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - 2003

My 2nd choice this week is a movie from one of my favorite movie franchises in the history of cinema, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The Pirates franchise is easily right up there with my favorites and I've have to think long and hard about another franchise that I enjoyed as much as this one. Only contenders that I can think of now would be the Die Hard franchise and the Harry Potter franchise. Ooh that makes for a great separate blog. Favorite movie franchises ever. To me it is the franchise as a whole for instance I love the Halloween films but with Halloween 3 in the picture it would be removed from my list same goes with the Vacation series. Loved all of them but the Vegas Vacation wasn't up to par. Enough about that, I'm off topic big time, back to this movie, this incredibly great movie! Below is my detailed review.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl came out in 2003 but I did not see it for the first time until April of 2005 when staying at my parents place. For some reason, and I don't know why, I never saw this original one in the theaters on the big screen and that is a disappointment to me now see how good it is. I was never a huge Johnny Depp fan and the rest of the characters were not ones that I actually knew so that could have been one reason why I never had an interest to go see it but none the less I should have. This would have been great to see on the big screen. Speaking of characters and the cast for this film they were great, all of them, and this movie franchise alone has turned me into a Johnny Depp fan big time. Not sure why I wasn't before? hmm?

Most know the story of this film so Ill skip that and instead turn to the cast of characters. No secret here but the main character is Jack Sparrow played by Johnny Depp. The other main characters in this film are Will Turner played by Orlando Bloom, Elizabeth Swann played by Keira Knightley, and Barbossa played by Geoffrey Rush. These are the "main" characters as I have stated but there were plenty of others cast of pirates, governor's, and commodore's in this film that made it so great. There were plenty of actors whom by name you would not recognize but their characters in these films are so recognizable that they become quite pivotal to these movies. Norrington, Governor Weatherby Swann, Ragetti, Gibbs, Murtogg, and Mullroy amongst others. This franchise would add even more characters in the following films and you'll see that on my next blog after I watch The Dead Man's Chest, the second Pirates film.

Just in case some of you may not be aware with the storyline of this film let me do my best to give you a brief plot summary of this film no longer than a paragraph's worth, if I can? Elizabeth Swann is kidnapped by Barbossa and his crew of the Black Pearl in Port Royal during a fierce battle one night. Jack Sparrow who had saved Swann during the opening of the film after she fell off a cliff was in jail after being caught himself in Port Royal. After Elizabeth is kidnapped blacksmith Will Turner seeks the help of Sparrow as the two go hunting after Elizabeth. In doing so they must elude the British Navy, steal a ship and head out after the Black Pearl and Barbossa. Unbeknownst to her the crew of pirates on the Black Pearl including Barbossa are actually ghosts who have been cursed. Throughout the film Sparrow and Turner desperately attempt to save Swann although Sparrow's intentions might come with leverage (Will Turner is actually famous pirate Bootstrap Bill Turner's son). Exciting chase scenes and amazing battle scenes are what the audience is rewarded with in this film!

There were a ton of things in this film that I thoroughly enjoyed but lets start with the characters. Jack Sparrow was easily my favorite character. To me Johnny Depp was perfect for this role and after hearing about other possible actors who were thought of and considered for this role at one point in time it blows my mind. Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Cary Elwes, etc. and the individual who was actually offered the role initially was Robert DeNiro. Can you imagine this film with DeNiro as Captain Jack Sparrow, yeah me neither. Depp was magical as the aloof Captain of the Black Pearl and his comedic brilliance was on full display in this film. His awkward walking or sashaying around, pirate language, and love for rum made his character so interesting and intriguing. I have hard time imagining any other actor other than Depp being as likeable and mesmerizing as Captain Jack Sparrow so I am so very thankful he was the one they decided to go with. This film franchise would never have developed into what it is had it not been for him.

There were other great characters as well. My other favorites would have been Will Turner and Barbossa. Geoffrey Rush's performance as Barbossa was great. He more than any other character in this film exuded pirate tendencies and looked as authentic as they come. He was a perfect choice for this role and the same can be said for him, had he not been in this film it wouldn't have been the same. Turner played by Bloom was the ultimate root for the underdog hero in this film. He made a great sidekick to Jack Sparrow in this film. Jack and Will's back and fourth banter throughout complimented each other very well and it made it quite easy to see these two work together throughout much of the film. Keira Knightley was great in the role of Elizabeth Swann and she almost as much as any other actor in this film set in with this movie perfectly. She has an elegance and old fashioned sense about her that just fits with historical movies like this.

Now that I've talked about the cast lets get into the movie itself. Ill start with the music and Ill be brief. Here's three words I would use when describing the music in this film. Phenomenal, Perfect, and Amazing. I could listen to just this soundtrack any day of the week it was that good. The music along with the sound editing for this film was brilliant, yes there is a 4th word to describe it. Seriously it was that good. Just for the fun of it type in Pirates of the Caribbean Theme Song in itunes and see for yourself. If you don't admit it is quite catchy and awesome then your fibbing yourself silly. Once you mix it in with the film itself and the action sequences it was so perfect for this film. Along with the music another aspect of this film that was awesome was the special effects. Ill share more below but my favorite special effect scenes had to be when the Pirates of the Black Pearl switched from human life form Pirates to skeletal ghostly creatures when light hit their skin. Very creepy and incredibly stunning to see. I especially loved it when the Pirates were all walking underwater and when they took over the Interceptor. It was just a treat for the eyes seeing these scenes for me.

The action scenes in this film were extravagant and quite large and were visually stunning. Three particular ones were my favorites. Lets start with the attack on Port Royal at night by the pirates of the Black Pearl in the beginning of the film. I especially loved that this attack took place at night as it made it more dark and scary. Very cool scene with lots of battling going on. The chase scene through the mansion where the Pirates look for Elizabeth Swann was very cool and creepy. Fast Forward to the battle between the two ships, the Interceptor and the Black Pearl. Awesome special effects in this scene with lots of explosions, gunfire, and sword fighting. This is what action films look like!! Easily the largest and most extravagant battle of the entire film. Finally the climatic battle at the end of the film in the ever so cool looking cave. This final scene treated us to a battle between Barbossa and Captain Jack Sparrow. What I especially liked in this scene was the special effects used when the pirates battled each other and went from dark places to places that were lit by the moonlight exposing their skeletal ghostly frames. In all this was my favorite battle scene since it took place down in the cave surrounded by treasure and gold.

The settings for this film were picturesque in every sense of the word. Part of the film was shot on location in the Bahamas and other scenes were created in large sound stages on the Universal Studios lot. I believe some of the Port Royal scenes were shot at Universal as well on the streets where the Universal Tram Tour takes guests but I could be wrong. It might have been shots for the 2nd movie, I cant remember. As I watch more and more movies I really look at the settings and backgrounds for the films I am watching especially the films in which they are so integral to the story. This was one of them and the settings were beautiful. Watching this on bluray made it even more awesome and personally these type of movies along with the Narnia's, Harry Potter's, Cast Away, and any other scenic films out there (I guess Avatar from what I've heard, haha) are the type of movies that bluray players were made for. Its night and day when watching this on bluray compared to standard dvd and I'm lucky and thankful I have one to watch these movies on because it makes it so much better and visually more satisfying. The closest thing to seeing it in the movie theater and since I did not see this one in the movie theater it was nice to see this one on bluray!!

Another element of this film that I enjoyed were all the references to the classic ride at Disneyland that were incorporated into the film. There is a laundry list of them but the ones that I personally saw and absolutely loved were the following. Obviously the prisoners in jail trying to get the key from the dog. The pirate sitting on top of barrels overflowing with beer in Tortuga. Gibbs sleeping on pigs in Tortuga. The large treasure mountain of gold in the cave. The pirates bed in the background of the cave. The red dressed wench in Tortuga that slaps Jack. These were my favorite ones and ones I remember seeing but there were many more. Along with these scenes there were numerous references to music in the ride as well and the oh so famous theme song "yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me".

My favorite quotes in this film were the following. Barbossa telling Elizabeth Swann, "you best be believing in ghost stories Ms. Turner, your in one" after she witnessed the pirates were actually ghosts. Jack Sparrow telling Barbossa "you forgot one very important thing mate, I'm Captain Jack Sparrow". Jack Sparrow screaming out during the battle scene between the two ships "stop blowing holes in my ship!". Jack Sparrow when seeing Elizabeth burning all the rum, "not good, stop, not good. why is all the rum gone?". After Elizabeth responds Jack says, "but why is the rum gone?". When on the ship speaking of weddings Jack says, "I love weddings, drinks all around". Like I said before, Depp's incredible performance and transformation into Captain Jack Sparrow really made this film and although many other aspects of the movie itself were exceptional it all started with him. A movie as flawless as this deserves nothing less than an A+!

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