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Pirates of the Caribbean:
The Curse of the Black Pearl

Review written by: Alex Sandell

Disney should really quit with these films based on theme-parks (although that Haunted Mansion pic looks pretty cool).  Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl is a step up from last year's The Country Bears, but it isn't exactly the flying leap that it needed to be to be anything worth rushing out to attend.  Frankly, I thought the film was boring.  If the audience I watched the screening with were any indication, I'm about the only one who thought that.  The film had people laughing, clapping, gasping and cheering for more. 

The movie gives us sword fights, slapstick jokes, swashbuckling adventure, cheesy one-liners, over and over again, until each familiar scene begins to resemble a music video playing in steady rotation on MTV.  By the end, the filmmakers have managed to create a uniform level of tedium; it never gets any better, nor does it get any worse.  It just keeps playing variations of the same themes it played earlier, over a long-drawn-out 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Screenwriters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot do a lot of work creating different action scenarios that all look entirely the same, and not enough time on coming up with an interesting plot to stick the scenes into.  The story reads like a video game:  a bunch of pirates are cursed to a "life" of being undead, unless they're able to collect a ton of coins, and bleed the blood of some people onto the coins, once all of the coins are collected.  I kept thinking of the Mario Bros. games.  If you can pick up 100 coins, you get an extra life.  Mama-Mia! 

The undead pirates, when they take their undead form (IE - skeletons) are damn impressive.  These walking skeletons look good.  What fun it is to witness them in their full-glory the first time they let their bones all hang out (that sounded nearly perverse).  This may not be the best CG that I've seen, but it's the most enjoyable.  These dudes look cooler than Britney's nipples on Christmas morning!  They were so impressive, in fact, that when I first got a look at them, I was all gooey and juicy and looking forward to giving my first positive review of a Jerry Bruckheimer film. 

It's unfortunate that the real stars aren't nearly as captivating as the CG ones we're given.  Johnny Depp does his best as pirate Jack Sparrow.  The character isn't given much depth by the screenwriters, but Depp is adept at making the best out of a bad situation, and he delivers the abysmal one-liners he's given with that magic "Johnny" flair.  This guy is one of the best actors alive.  Still, delivering bad lines in a good way doesn't do much more than Novocain does at the dentist: it numbs the pain until the drilling is over.

The only other actor worth writing home about is Geoffrey Rush.  Rush is obviously having one hell of a time playing the evil pirate Barbossa.  This man has studied up on pirate movies of yore, and he's more than ready to perfectly emulate them.  From the pirate-y "aargh" to the other stuff that makes pirate movies of yore cool.  Rush has it down flat, and then some.  The only thing his performance suffers from is the film's running time.  Every junkie worth his or her weight in gold knows that too much of a "Rush" turns into a downer.  Even some non-junkies, such as me, may possibly notice this.

Keira Knightley did a poor job playing the leading lady of the film.  Why is it that she always has this beautiful makeup on, no matter how tough the situation gets?  This is actually a problem that I never notice until the female I attend the film with decides to bring it up.  From that point on, it drives me bananas.  Magical makeup or not, Keira Knightley doesn't make the grade as an actress, at least not in Pirates.  I think that they should have dumped her as the "love" interest, in an effort to make a shorter and more entertaining film.  A lot of her fellow actors and actresses should have also walked the plank.  The majority of acting in the film is about as good your standard straight-to-video slasher flick.

With the high level of bad acting and slapstick antics involved, Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl is essentially Caddyshack with swords.  Or Police Academy, without guns.  Actually, the comedy is so bad; it's more like Caddyshack 2, or Police Academy 5.  Whatever it is, it's at least 30 minutes too long, and that, along with next to no character development and a video game plot, forces me to point my thumbs down toward the ground, even though I wish they could be pointing up toward the sky, like all the shimmering swords in the film.  At least the theme park attraction knew when it was time to wrap it all up.

On a scale of 1-10?


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Hollywood Homicide

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Coming soon -- Reviews of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Spy Kids 3D:  Game Over, American Wedding, Swimming Pool, How to Deal, and Freddy VS Jason!

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Text (Copyright) 2003 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].