[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B0058H9LZU][/pullquote] You best start believing in ghost stories Miss Turner, ˜cos you’re in one! comes the chilling line that encapsulates exactly what Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is all about. Based on a theme park ride at Disneyland, it tells the story of a greedy crew of pirates who steal a cursed treasure which causes them to become undead creatures. When Disney decided to reproduce the story for the big screen there was little expectation, however with the casting of on-the-up actor Johnny Depp as the bumbling Captain Jack Sparrow and Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom as the young romantic leads, the film surpassed all expectations and spawned a goliath of a movie franchise.
Set in the swashbuckling era in the mid 18th century, we are introduced to Will Turner (Bloom), a young orphan blacksmith, who is forced into blackmailing the roguish Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) into following the Black Pearl, under the control of Captain Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) in order to rescue the daughter of the Governor of Port Royal, Elizabeth Swann (Knightley), whilst simultaneously being pursued by Elizabeth’s fiance Commodore Norrington (Jack Davenport). The film is basically a chase movie, but on the open seas, with plenty of action and enough pirates to swash your buckle at.
Fans of the series will not that the main character in the original is Will Turner. This however proved to be a misplaced faith, as it becomes clear that the real star of the franchise is Captain Jack. Director Gore Verbinski does a good job of creating enough levels of fun and adventure to overcome the staggering mediocrity of his lead and in fairness to Bloom, he isn’t as bad as he can be (although he does look in need of a espresso just to give him a chance of keeping up), but he’s just clearly out of his depth against the uber-charismatic Depp on scintillating form.
The rest of the supporting cast is clearly having a ball playing with their slightly cartoonish characters and the children’s horror-themed subject. Davenport and Jonathan Pryce form a good partenership as the foppish, Englishmen who are constantly out-commanded by Jack and his crew, being stiff-upper-lipped without also being clichÃ©d. Rush is also particularly impressive as main antagonist Barbosa, giving him depth and resonance far beyond what was necessary.
The action is fast and exciting, the story is engrossing and more than a little scary and the characters are funny and engaging. It seems that everyone was firing on all cylinders during production to take what could’ve been throwaway fun and turn it into a genuine future classic. There is some foreshadowing to the destruction of quality in future instalments, but for Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, everything works to its highest potential.