Welcome

Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl


****

Until this film came along the words Pirates of the Caribbean immediately made you think of the more dire rides at Disneyland, upon which the film is based, and you immediately wonder how a lousy kids ride could be turned into a very good two hours plus of film.

The film sees Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) be taken aboard The Black Pearl by a cursed crew of undead Pirates, led by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). To rescue her, friend Will (Orlando Bloom) - whose blood is needed to break the curse along with all the pieces of Aztec Gold - and The Pearl's former Captain, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who Will breaks out of prison, steal a Royal Navy ship and give chase, getting them pursued by Commodore Norrington (Jack Davenport) and the Royal Navy.

From start to end this film is a successful mixture of slightly over-the-top action, old school swashbuckler, adventure, ghost story, comedy and romance. The action is made big and bold thanks to a lot of hard work from the choreographers of said scenes, as well as vast amounts of energy and enthusiasm from the cast, extras included, who clearly wanted to do all they could to make the scenes as exciting as possible. As for the sword fights which get the most focus - Will vs. Jack, Barbossa vs. Jack - great energy is seen as they make the sword fights as similar to old school swashbucklers as possible - over-the-top, slightly frantic, and making good use of location - Jack and Will's fight takes place in a blacksmith's, and the pair constantly duck and sidestep machinery - and there is something quite charming about this old school swashbuckling.
The sense of adventure is consistently strong, with many scenes providing a sense of danger, and even peril in some cases; plus the film is set at sea during the Pirate hunting 18th Century, which provides a great premise for adventure from the word "Go". The ghost story side is where the special effects truly shine, when Barbossa's crew become living skeletons at night thanks to the curse, and the effects and very good makeup turn them into a very eery and creepy bunch indeed, that look as if they stepped out of a major ghost/horror film such as Poltergeist (1982); and the moment where Barbossa first turns into one is masterful editing, carefully crafted and designed for maximum impact.
In terms of comedy, the scenarios and dialogue of the film are truly farcical, with us the audience ultimately being offered a three-way game of cat and mouse - Jack's chasing Barbossa, and Norrington's chasing Jack - and thanks to well timed, well delivered and well written comedy this film just feels like a wonderful farce almost as often as not. As for the romance we are given a typical soap opera style love triangle - Norrington and Will both love Elizabeth, but who does Elizabeth love? - and this is what drives Will and Norrington to be the determined characters we end up loving.

Ultimately it is the characters, and the wonderful cast who create them that capture our hearts and draw us in. Rush is bold, brash and quite unsettling as the despicable Barbossa; Bloom brings some great determination to Will, and while Knightley gives a poor performance as Elizabeth, the character itself represents somebody who wishes to break free of the boundaries her aristocratic life brings up; Kevin R. McNally makes Gibbs a typical sea farer, and also is a very convincing alcholic; while Davenport and Jonathan Pryce bring great airs of dignity and sophistication to the roles of Norrington and Governor Swann respectively. In the end though this is all Depp's film. Stealing the show as Jack in a role which earned him his first Oscar nomination, he is over-the-top, exaggerated, cocky, energetic and foolish, and Depp puts his all into the character, also making him a charming and loveable rogue at the same time.

Exciting, action packed and with a strong cast led by the incomparable Depp this is certainly one of the Top 10 films of 2003, and a must watch film, no doubt about it.


2003.
12.
Stars:
Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally, Jonathan Pryce, Zoe Saldana, Mackenzie Crook, Lee Arenberg, Greg Ellis, Damian O'Hare, Angus Barnett, Giles New, David Bailie, Martin Klebba, Christopher S. Capp, Isaac C. Singleton Jr, Trevor Goddard, David Patykewich, Vince Lozano, Treva Etienne, Brye Cooper, Michael Berry Jr, Finius Egun.

Oscar nominations: Best Actor (Johnny Depp), Best Visual Effects (Hal T. Hickel, John Knoll, Charles Gibson, Terry Frazee), Best Makeup (Ve Neill, Martin Samuel), Best Sound Mixing (Christopher Boyes, David Parker, David Campbell, Lee Orloff), Best Sound Editing (Christopher Boyes, George Watters II).

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