CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Phil Villarreal (azstarnet.com), Bob Butler (kansascitystar.com), Roger Ebert (suntimes.com), Peter Sobczynski (criticdoctor.com), David Ansen (newsweek.com), Ty Burr (ae.boston.com), Mark Sells (filmthreat.com), Rebecca Murray (about.com)
* * * * (out of 5 stars)
If you’re planning to set sail and go see “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Black Pearl,” be prepared for a very long ride. Luckily actor Johnny Depp helps pass the time with his wonderful, quirky performance.
Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow, a rogue pirate who was left on a tiny abandoned island by his mutinous crew led by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). He escapes and arrives in Port Royal just in time to save the governor’s daughter, Elizabeth Swann, (Keira Knightley) from drowning. Shortly after, ghostly pirates invade the port and kidnap Swann because she holds the secret to breaking their curse – a curse that suspended their souls in a state between life and death. A swashbuckling adventure begins as Sparrow and local blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) hunt down the death defying pirates – and their ship, the Black Pearl.
Phil Villarreal (azstarnet.com) said, “So let’s get this straight: The pirates of the Black Pearl, who live to plunder, destroy and debauch, are ‘cursed’ with immortality and invulnerability, and they see something so wrong with this that they strive endlessly to shed their immortality by breaking the curse?”
I’ll set you straight, Phil. Yes. The pirates want to “feel” again, to experience life in their own evil way. It makes complete sense! Bob Butler (kansascitystar.com) got it right: “They’re walking dead, unable to feel pleasure or pain, eat, drink or dally with the wenches. No wonder they’re in such a foul mood.”
Villarreal also said the movie is “45 minutes too long.” I agree. If the movie had cut out at least 30 to 45 minutes, I think it would have been a lot more fun. Unfortunately, the movie makes us walk an endless plank of sword fights when we know the pirates can’t die. There were moments I felt like a tired pirate who wanted to put black patches over both my eyes!
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) said in his review, “The battle scenes actually feel as if they go on forever. It’s fun at first to see a pirate swordfight, but eventually it gets to the point where the sword-clashing, yardarm-swinging and timber-shivering get repetitious.”
Villarreal goes on to complain “the acting is finger-on-chalkboard grating.” He said Depp “turns in such an outrageously over-the-top performance, constantly rolling his eyes and staggering from side to side like a daytime drunk, that he seems more cartoonish than Captain Hook.”
For the love of God, Phil. I think it’s time you walk the plank! Despite the film’s grueling length, Depp is the reason this movie is worth watching – period.
Peter Sobczynski (criticdoctor.com) nailed it: “Some may argue, not unreasonably, that his performance is so far over-the-top that it becomes ridiculous. The way I see it – if you are cast in a film where you get to wear a ruffled shirt, a handlebar mustache, a tri-corner hat and gallons of mascara while jumping around a boat and battling skeletons and monkeys while saying things like “Avast!” – you have earned the right to chew a little bit of the scenery without complaint.”
The moment Captain Jack Sparrow pulls into port, we know someone unique just arrived and we’re in for something special. Most critics liked Depp’s appealing character:
“Fortunately, whenever the movie starts to sag, Depp flies to the rescue. It’s a truly piratical performance: with his flamboyantly fluttering fingers he steals every scene in the movie.” David Ansen (newsweek.com)
“I never thought I’d hope for a sequel to a theme-park movie, but if Depp’s at the mast, a pirate’s life for me.” Ty Burr (ae.boston.com)
“Depp is deliciously deceptive, conniving, and all together sympathetic. His dizzying nuances, idiosyncrasies, and half drunken quirks are splendid.” Mark Sells (filmthreat.com)
The supporting cast is pretty good, too. I especially like Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). He’s the perfect villain here along with his skeleton crew. Rebecca Murray (about.com) summed the movie up best: “Get past all that baggage and you’ll find an original, swashbuckling adventure starring Johnny Depp as one of the most ‘interesting’ pirates ever seen on film.”
“Pirates of the Caribbean” may be cursed by time itself, but Johnny Depp’s performance stops the Black Pearl from sinking.
— CRITIC DOCTOR