A Toast To Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
By
Dan Graney
7/13/2003 4:45:42 PM

Remember the late Sixties/early Seventies Stones? The sticky-fingered, beggar banqueting, exiled on main street, devilishly sympathetic Rolling Stones. For me, you can't beat those Stones for pure, dirty, unadulterated rock & roll intoxication. The music stands as a timeless portrait of rock & roll perfection: beautifully flawed, amoral and irresistible.

Johnny Depp has stated that pirates were the rock & roll stars of their day. And with Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, he has channeled that particular era of the Stones, tapping especially into the vein of Keith Richards, to bring life to Captain Jack Sparrow, offering one of the strangest, and greatest, pirate portrayals ever seen on the silver screen.

Captain Jack Sparrow wants his ship. Sure, he wants rum, women and gold, but most of all, he wants his ship. Unfortunately, his ship is under the leadership of Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and his band of un-merry, undead pirates. Mucking things up further is Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), who supposedly has the cure for the undead pirate blues, and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, opting for a sword instead of his bow and arrow from Lord of the Rings), who has more than a passing interest in Elizabeth. But all Jack Sparrow wants is his ship. There's more, but that's enough.

Pirate movies have never really lived up to anyone's expectations-- and how could they? Pirates, even in their most watered-down sea-faring tales, are unsavory brigands, acquitted from all sense of morality. That said, they are also hard to resist. What, with the clichés of puffy shirts, the really cool hats-- hell, even wearing an eye-patch seems like an all right way to live with one eye. This movie has plenty of the clichés covered, and even adds a few extra twists, with pirate skeletons, foppish fancy boys, and even a mean monkey. It takes all the best parts of the ride it's based on and leaves out the cleaned up, post-Walt, P.C.-era Disney changes. And thank God, since it's my favorite ride of all time.

And the result? I loved it! So much that I'm going to play Gene Shalit: Pirates of the Caribbean is pure fun and a real kick in the booty.

Okay, sorry. Had to do it. The pirates are appropriately eerie, the battles are explosive, Geoffrey Rush is terrific and Johnny Depp dervishly whirls another inspired performance and shows what someone can do with a little inspiration and lot of attitude.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
4 1/2 out of 5 This could have gone wrong in so many ways, but Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl finally gives pirate movies their due. To paraphrase Keith Richards "Let's drink to the pirates, let's drink to the salt of the earth".

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