I decided to pick up a charity-shop copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) as research for my comix, only intending to watch the first half hour or so, to get a sense of the setting/period… but then I got drawn in by the story, characters, and jokes all over again, and ended up watching all the way through to the post-credits punchline! Before the movie was actually released, it was easy to be cynical about its prospects, both creatively and financially… I mean, who could’ve predicted that a Disney-financed pirate comedy based on a theme park ride would actually turn out to be so strange and exciting and spooky and funny? It could’ve so easily turned into a Cutthroat-Island-esque fiasco… but somehow, through a process of inexplicable alchemy, swashbuckling gold was spun from the straw of corporate synergy!
Of course the main draw here is Johnny Depp’s multi-award-nominated turn as the series’ adorably off-kilter hero, crazy-as-a-fox ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’, and everyone else sort of fades into the margins around him… though Geoffrey Rush’s ‘Captain Barbossa’ does make for a very sympathetic villain, and I was even a little sad when he died (though I knew this wasn’t the last we’d see of him…). Sadly, while ‘Elizabeth Swann’ (Keira Knightley) showed a fair amount of moxie and ingenuity in the face of adversity, she was also a bit bland and generic as far as female leads go. Then again, I’d say the same for her love interest, ‘Will Turner’ (Orlando Bloom), so I don’t think it’s a gender issue so much as a not-being-Jack-Sparrow issue!
Likewise, ‘Anamaria’ (Zoe Saldana) got a good attention-grabbing introduction, bitch-slapping Jack and demanding compensation for a boat he “borrowed” from her… but after that, she became just another face in the crowd… though I assume she was filling in as captain aboard “The Interceptor”, while Jack was off adventuring? Un-fun fact: Saldana had such a crappy time making this movie, she considered giving up acting altogether! To quote an interview she gave about the unpleasant atmosphere on-set: “Those weren’t the right people for me… I’m not talking about the cast. The cast was great. I’m talking about the political stuff that went on behind closed doors… It was a lot of above-the-line versus below-the-line, extras versus actors, producers versus PAs. It was very elitist. I almost quit the business. I was 23 years old, and I was like, ‘F*** this! I am never putting myself in this situation again… People disrespecting me because they look at my number on a call sheet and they think I’m not important. ‘F*** you.’”
Needless to say, she did not return for the sequels… which I now feel compelled to buy/watch, despite remembering what a drag they were the first time around. Ack!!