Before Disney decided to remake all of its classic animated films in a big way, the studios turned to theme park rides for inspiration (as you do) and picked one of their oldest and most popular to adapt into a big budget feature film.
And so we got Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl.
The 2003 supernatural swashbuckler would, of course, become a significant success and spawn several sequels but we really didn't know what to expect from this first instalment. The pirate genre hadn't exactly been a hit in a while, if ever, so this was a risk for Disney. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Gore Verbinski, The Curse Of The Black Pearl was by no means a cheap, small scale project but the risk paid off in the end. The plot sees Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), the daughter of a wealthy Governor, help rescue young shipwrecked pirate Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) during a sail. She finds a golden medallion around his neck and decides to keep it. Years later, the crew of mythical ghost pirate ship The Black Pearl come back to reclaim the medallion. In the process, flaky pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Turner and Swann all find themselves entangled in an unlikely sort of treasure hunt as the Pearl's Captain Barbossa (an excellent Geoffrey Rush) aims to gather all the gold medallions/coins to end a sinister curse.
It's no secret that Depp steals the show as Sparrow, a seemingly clueless yet smart and sneaky dreadlocked pirate with tons of eyeliner. He's very funny, he gets all the best lines and yo-yos between the good guys and the baddies constantly making him a pretty compelling character indeed. The two leads, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley aren't quite as annoying or pointless as they become later on in the series but they remain this film's biggest flaw as their characters are much too bland and earnest compared to literally everyone around them. Visually, the film is a treat: the cursed crew of the Black Pearl turn into zombie skeletons in the moonlight thanks to cool special effects that miraculously still hold up, the naval battles are exciting and the whole thing is colourful yet dark and gloomy at times. It's a terrific popcorn movie that's never boring and it's hard to not get swept up in Hans Zimmer's epic score. If I had to nitpick, I'd say there's maybe too much comic relief throughout which can take you out of the film as the jokes are corny more often than not.
The franchise may have overstayed its welcome to some by now but it's impossible to deny just how much fun this first film is. This is an old-fashioned yet boldly gothic action-packed adventure kids and adults alike will have a great time watching.
If only Summer movies were still this entertaining.
Watch it, savvy?