Thursday, 28 July 2016

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

The action comedy “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” one of the most important and overlooked cinematic questions of all time: Can a film keep up the dramatic integrity of an amusement park ride?

In this case, the answer is – beyond any doubt. The director, Gore Verbinski’s inclination for logistics – combined with the producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s desire to spend like a drunken pirate with regards to putting everything on screen – dissolves into an often frenetic, colorful and entertaining comic adventure that often seems to be using “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” as a template. The dazzling, high-flying silliness is quite an accomplishment. The film is superior to anything it should be, given its origins: a ride at Disneyland and Disney World.

Mr. Verbinski’s staging is as vertiginous as an amusement park ride and places the wiry and beauteous tomboy Keira Knightley at the center. Her physical assurance suggests what Nicole Kidman may resemble on the off chance that she didn’t spend so much time coughing tragically into handkerchiefs in a similarly tragic pursuit for important roles.

Ms. Knightley is Elizabeth Swann, owner of a medallion that gets the plot going a scant hour into “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”. This knickknack is first seen in a prologue sequence, in which little Elizabeth steals it from an equally young Will Turner. She has also stolen (sigh) his heart, as Will (Orlando Bloom) grows up to be a stalwart blacksmith – and more than able swordsman – who nurtures a secret crush on her. Ms. Knightley is strident and confident in her movement, a capacity that makes her all that sexier and alluring, which is fortunate, given that her acting skills aren’t quite as devastating as her looks.

The film belongs to Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow the pirate, a rapscallion who is as woozy as somebody who has endured much too much time on a roller coaster. Mr. Depp doesn’t get the chance to show his gift for comedy often, and his mellow, dizzied underplaying here is a balm, an antidote to the raucous battles and swashbuckling.

Rinsing his consonants before spitting them out, Mr. Depp’s pirate suggests a man who has spent either a lot of time with Keith Richards after a tour through the Rebel Yell factory, or a man who has spent a lot of time watching Mike Myers do his Keith Richards impression. In any case, festooned with dreadlocks and braids in his hair and beard and wearing enough industrial strength mascara to indicate that Captain Jack was most likely impacted by another King of the Wild Frontier – Adam Ant – Mr. Depp offers a ratty, devilled turn that keeps the picture in motion during that extended period when there’s no much plot involved.

Be that as it may, when this extended state of narrative lassitude suddenly shifts, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” brings in enough story lines for several movies. And in the words of Bart Simpson, it takes a knife-wielding maniac to show to us the way: In this case, it is the entrance of the Pirate Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, who’s nearly as game – and gamy – as Mr. Depp).
He kidnaps Elizabeth because of the medallion. (There’s a side benefit. “She is the governor’s daughter”, one of Barbossa’s hearties chuckles). The medallion ends up being an enchanted piece of gold, which, with the blood of a special someone, can free Barbossa and his swabbies from their curse: they’re the larcenous undead whose skeletons can be seen in the moonlight at night.

Moreover, Barbossa now commands the swift, capable ship the Black Pearl, which he seized from Jack Sparrow in a mutiny, after which he left out Sparrow to bite the dust. Seeking revenge, Sparrow steals a ship and a new crew of his own, including Will, to seek after Barbossa.

There are plenty salty, fatty moment in “Pirates of the Caribbean” among the unmistakably staged fighting and rum-flavored comedy provided by Mr. Depp, Mr. Rush and the rest of the cast, including Jonathan Pryce as Elizabeth’s fainthearted, officious governor father. It’s a hip slice of summer ham.

Mr. Verbinski swings his complex twist, which compels him to turn most interiors into haunted houses for their joke potential, and his idea gives the film a ridiculously antic air. Hilariously, every time the Black Pearl sails into perspective, an ominous cloud swirls around it, even in brilliant daylight. It’s as if Barbossa carries his menacing mystique with him wherever he goes.
This is one of the few films that could justify the  use of a term that should to never be used as a part of portraying a movie – a thrill ride – since it is, after all, based on one. Mr. Verbinski especially uses the scene in which Elizabeth finds exactly what her captors want, in which she is tossed and shoved as if she was being slammed around on a rollercoaster, to remind us of this.

There are also several other instances lifted right off the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the thorough shamelessness of “Pirates of the Caribbean” – a trait it shares – turns out to be part of the motif. Also, the good-natured professionalism of the cast – except for Mr. Bloom, who’s stranded by the one-note intensity of his role – adds to the cheerfulness. This broad, fluky comedy hits the notch of a remixed 12-inch single. In the end, it packs in so much plot data that there is an unwieldy surfeit of narrative treasure: it is bootylicious.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” is rated PG-13 for strong language, jokes so bad they are pretty damn good, gamy supernatural humor and savagery.

Written by Sukanya Roy
Artist, Critic, Writer, Photographer, Movie buff, Graphic Designer, Literature and Geography enthusiast, Soccer fan, and Imaginative.

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