"Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate's life for me!" If you have ever been to Walt Disney World in Florida or Disneyland in California, those words are probably welded into your brain. One of the best rides of the park is now a pretty good popcorn summer movie.
"Pirates of the Caribbean" might break the curse long plaguing pirate movies. (Disney)
The story revolves around a pirate ship sailing in the area of the British Caribbean in the 1700s. The Black Pearl is the scourge of the Seven Seas. Its crew is filled with cutthroats that pillage towns along the isles and coastline.
The pirates have a secret that involves a chest of Spanish gold. They must find a missing piece of the gold in order to relieve them of a curse. The missing piece was in the possession of a now dead shipmate who sent it to his child. The pirates roam from port to port looking for the piece, which they find in the possession of Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), the governor's daughter. They shanghai her and the movie begins to gather steam.
The movie introduces us to Capt. Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp. He was once captain of the Black Pearl, but a mutiny led by his first mate, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), removed him from power. Sparrow was left on a desert island and acts a little more than crazy from the heat of the experience. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) is a young blacksmith who loves Elizabeth from afar, and he goes out with Sparrow to rescue her when the pirates abduct her.
"Pirates of the Caribbean" has lots of action with swordfights, spooky doings and comedy. The only problem with the movie is that it is too long, with some of the fight scenes actually slowing the movie down because of their length.
But star performances redeem the movie. Johnny Depp's Sparrow is a cross between Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Dame Edna. He never goes too far over the top and adds just the right blend of comedy to the role. Geoffrey Rush plays Barbossa as black-hearted—just as a pirate should be. He is the best pirate on film in years. Depp, Rush and the other actors who play pirates look like the pirates we saw in the picture books of our childhood.
The most cursed movie genre of the last 20 years has to be pirate movies. Geena Davis made a good movie called "Cutthroat Island" that was DOA at the box office. It seems that the movie-going public does not take well to pirate movies. This one looks like an exception to that rule.
Furthermore, if you have ever been on the ride at Disney and paid attention, you will see many of the scenes from the ride on the screen. This adds to the fun of the movie.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" is what a summer movie needs to be: fun and exciting. Its heart outweighs its flaws. It is not a movie for small children, but for those above the age of 8 or 9, it is a fun ride of a movie.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action/adventure violence
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writers: Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
Cast: Capt. Jack Sparrow: Johnny Depp; Capt. Barbossa: Geoffrey Rush; The Governor: Jonathan Pryce; Elizabeth Swann: Keira Knightley; Will Turner: Orlando Bloom; Norrington: Jack Davenport; Lt. Gillette: Damian O'Hare.