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Heroes of the Zeroes: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

by on August 21, 2010
 

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl”
Rated PG-13
2003

A movie based on a theme-park ride shouldn’t have been this good, but a clunky, colon-addled title was all that didn’t work about 2003’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”

Brisk, exciting and wildly funny, “Pirates” wisely channeled blockbusters of old that lacked the benefit of more-more-more effects. That’s not to say this wasn’t liberal with its computer-generated creatures, but instead of dwelling on them, it relied on the charm of chivalry and swashbuckling, as well as one of Johnny Depp’s best performances.

With braided beard, dreadlocked hair and mascara Tammy Faye Baker would consider overkill, Depp owned the role of scalawag Captain Jack Sparrow and, as it would turn out, this franchise. Here, his irate reaction to the burning of a rum cache alone was worth the price of admission, and he worked with the same top-drawer effortlessness that Mandy Patinkin did with his similar role in “The Princess Bride.”

Jack leads young lovers Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) in battle against the pirates of the Black Pearl — undead deck-swabbers led by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

Its wild success generated one of the business’s most vexing problems — the unintentional trilogy (soon to be quadrilogy), which sucked some surprise from subsequent scenarios and required Venn diagrams to follow plot.

Still, there were wickedly quick quips and twists amid director Gore Verbinski’s keen visual eye — enough to make the original “Pirates of the Caribbean” an enjoyably far cry from yo-ho-hum summer blockbusters.