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Sun, Mar 26, 2017 08:24 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-07-11 tracking life & times section
Pirate movie back in style
Cletus Turner

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Just like every boy who grew up on Disney movies like Black Beard and Treasure Island, my brothers and I would often play pirate. My brother Vada always seemed to be the pirate captain who would capture people and make them "walk the plank."

Now, when every other movie seems to be a part two, an original pirate movie has finally come to the big screen. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl could be just the thing to jumpstart a whole new generation of pirates that otherwise might have been put off by the colossal flops of Cutthroat Island in 1995 and Treasure Planet just a couple of years ago.

Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly and Geoffrey Rush star in the extravaganza. Executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer spared no expense for the film. There are scenes which were filmed in the Caribbean and the beauty of the scenery is excellent.

Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow, an infamous pirate. Depp's portrayal is nothing short of genius. He is funny, slick and just plain fun to watch. Buzz around the industry is that Depp would make the film and he does. Depp is expertly bookended by Knightly, who plays Elizabeth Swann, and Bloom, who plays Will Turner. Knightly and Bloom's chemistry certainly makes the film enjoyable and provides a contrast to all the swashbuckling.

The story is actually pretty good as well. It seems a group of pirates had mutinied against Sparrow, stranded him on a desert island and then using Sparrow's ship The Black Pearl, stole an Aztec treasure. According to Sparrow, he was able to escape the island by tying two sea turtles together. Naturally this wasn't true, but it made a good story. Anyway, Sparrow is imprisoned in Port Royal where Elizabeth and Will live. Elizabeth is the governor's daughter and is being courted by Captain Norrington who is being promoted to Commodore. Norrington walks with Elizabeth who can't breath because her corset is too tight, I'm not kidding. Elizabeth faints and falls into the ocean. She is wearing a gold necklace that happens to have an Aztec emblem on it that she stole from Will when they were kids. Will and Elizabeth, we see in the opening sequence, met as children when Elizabeth and her father were traveling at sea and she saw Will afloat in the ocean. Will survived a pirate attack upon the boat he was in going toward Port Royal. Elizabeth saw the necklace and took it, fearful that Will was a pirate.

When Elizabeth faints, she falls into the ocean. Sparrow saves her, only to be recognized as a pirate and imprisoned. When Elizabeth fell into the ocean, there was a pulse given off by the Aztec gold. Everyone noticed and questioned it, but promptly forgot about the strange occurrence. That night, a band of pirates attacked and almost destroyed Port Royal. Elizabeth was kidnapped and Will was knocked out. The next morning, Will begged Norrington and Governor Swann to find Elizabeth. When they didn't move fast enough, Will broke Sparrow out of prison and together, they stole a ship called the Interceptor. The twosome were able to find the Black Pearl and the hidden lair of the pirates. There, it was discovered that a curse was upon the pirates. When they stole the treasure, they were made undead. They couldn't be killed, but they also were deprived of the simple pleasures of life. Their existence was meaningless. The missing Aztec piece held by Elizabeth was the last missing piece of the gold and could help end the curse. It required the blood of a specific person to complete the spell. However, the pirates had the wrong person. I won't go into any more detail or I will ruin the movie for you.

The acting was superb. Johnny Depp takes his character and runs with it. Knightly is a modern woman trapped in the 1800's. Bloom is the effective hero who must face some difficult truths about his past. Rush is the perfect evil pirate who doesn't care who he hurts to get what he wants.

Director Gore Verbinski, who also directed The Ring and The Mexican, does an absolute fabulous job of taking us on a breath-taking excursion to the Caribbean. The remote shot of Knightly and Depp on a deserted island was everything I had ever imagined in a pirate movie. The crystal blue ocean offset by the white sand made me want to take off and live on the island for a while.

One problem was the appearance of a boat in the middle of the ocean. One of the characters tries to escape and somehow, a boat is miraculously there. Where did it come from? No clue.

Overall, Pirates of the Caribbean is an excellent movie. It blends action and romance, intrigue and humor. The film is a must see for the older set and the younger group will enjoy the locale as well as the story, but mostly the good looks of Knightly and Bloom.

4 3/4 Stars

T3 was the number one movie at the box office last weekend. It will find itself in trouble with the release of Pirates and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The release of these two action films will probably cut the $40 million that T3 made last week in half.

Next week: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

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