[MOVIE REVIEW]Set sail with ‘Pirates,’ dig up a little bit of gold“Pirates of the Caribbean,” for anyone who has visited a Disney theme park, conjures with its title the lurchy boat ride of the same name. Indeed, the film hails from Disney, that monolithic purveyor of entertainment. On board as producer is Jerry Bruckheimer, behind the “Bad Boys” and “Beverly Hills Cop” series. The gold-plated lineup is secure.
The story begins on the sleepy, British-controlled Caribbean island of Port Royal. The legendary pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) drifts into town ― literally, as his boat is sinking ― and starts wreaking havoc in a quest for a new vessel. Though purportedly a bandit of the high seas, Sparrow’s hilarious missteps paint him as more incompetent than ingenious ― at least at first.
Jailed and with no ship, it seems the end of the line for our more-bumbling-than-brave pirate. That is, until an ominous ship with tattered black sails comes to port: the Black Pearl. The ship’s scabrous crew, led by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), lays siege to the town, capturing the governor’s daughter, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), and taking her to the high seas.
But these aren’t your average, God-fearing, tax-paying pirates. After they lifted a stash of Aztec gold, a curse was placed on them, making them the walking dead, unable to quell their hunger or quench their thirst. Before the curse can be lifted, every piece of Aztec gold must be returned to its proper place on the dreaded Isla del Muerte, and the blood of a pirate must be spilled atop the cache. Trouble is, even if they find the last piece of gold, the crew of the Black Pearl cannot spill their own blood, as their veins run dry as bone.
Jack Sparrow reluctantly sets off to find the girl after being sprung from jail by a young blacksmith, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), who is in love with Elizabeth. What neither realizes is the reason for her capture: she holds the key to lifting the curse ― the final gold medallion, obtained through mysterious circumstances when she was a little girl.
The performances are great, the highlight being Mr. Depp at his campy best, although at times he seems to be channeling spastic Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) from the BBC sitcom “Absolutely Fabulous.” The action and special effects follow suit, with enough swashbuckling and mutineering to keep the most hardened pirate fan happy. Especially fun is seeing the crew of the Black Pearl exposed by the moonlight for what they really are: walking, decaying skeletons.
One complaint: not enough pirate syntax. Just a short monologue peppered with gems like “There be the gold; found it we did,” would have sufficed. Give us what we want!
What we get, in the end, is exactly that lurchy boat ride of Disney fame, never dull, but more diverting than truly breathtaking.
by Jason Zahorchak