‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ defied expectations by being great

Johnny Depp and Kiera Knightly in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl'
Johnny Depp and Kiera Knightly in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’

[rating=4]Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly, Jack Davenport, Jonathan Pryce, Mackenzie Crook, Lee Arenberg, Zoe Saldana
Director(s): Gore Verbinski
Writer(s): Jay Wolpert, Stuart Beattie, Terry Rossio, Ted Elliott

It has been quite some years since a really good pirate movie was made. The last that I can remember was Cutthroat Island, the film that signaled the official end of Gena Davis’ career — and Matthew Modine, I think, although he was probably out of the picture before that.

So, when I first heard about Pirates of the Caribbean, I wasn’t all that jazzed. But seeing the trailer changed my mind. I mean, how could you not get excited watching the walking skeletons turning into flesh-and-blood humans as they walk under water? The imagery just oozed “possibility”.

The final product was undeniably one of the most energetic and action-packed pirate movie in decades. I’ve always had a fascination with sailing ships and the kinds of people who commanded them. Pirates of the Caribbean did an outstanding job of bring that era to life in a realistic fashion, without ever forgetting to be fun and entertaining at the same time. Okay, the tacked-on ending does drag out a bit, but it’s a minor flaw in a generally outstanding film.

Geoffrey Rush gets exposed in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
Geoffrey Rush gets exposed in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’

But, the reason why I’m discussing this film is the upcoming release of a special edition of the Pirates of the Caribbean DVD. This one features a new, third disc — referred to as “The Lost Disc”.

Okay, so it’s just a rather transparent attempt to suck more people into buying yet another repackaged version of a movie they probably already own, or maybe pull in those last few who didn’t get it already.

This “lost disc” is filled with about an hour or so of behind the scenes docs that take you deeper into the making of the film. It leads off with two character based documentaries, “Becoming Captain Jack” and “Becoming Barbossa”, focusing on the respective character and how the individual actors — Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush — approached and developed their portrayals. Although Rush offers some insight that was new, very little that is said in the Depp doc is unknown. He goes into how he based much of the character on Keith Richards, which has become — I think — rather widely known already (Richards has apparently been lured in by Depp to play Jack Sparrow’s father in the Pirates sequel).

The one documentary I thought were the most interesting were the two that explored the history of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride which inspired the movie. “Spirit of the Ride” shows the parallels between the ride and the film, such as how the ride inspired the story, and how some of the scenes and background elements of the movie were lifted directly from the famous amusement park attraction.

Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’

I liked this because, well, I don’t really remember much about the ride. I’m fairly certain I saw it when I was at Disney World, but really don’t recall one way or another. Some of it seemed vaguely familiar, but that’s about it. So, when I saw the movie, the only element I seemed to recall was from the ride was the part where Sparrow is in the cell and the other prisoners are trying to convince the dog to give them the key.

Lastly, the “Sneak Attack Animatic” is also pretty cool to watch. The low-tech animation served as a visual aid to allow the filmmakers to get a general idea how the elaborate special effects sequence of the skeleton pirates boarding the British ship at the film’s conclusion was going to look.

Now, you may be asking yourself if getting this “Lost Disc Edition” of the Pirates of the Caribbean film is worth it. If you already own the DVD, I probably wouldn’t bother, as the film’s 2 DVDs are basically the same. I can’t say you should plunk down full price for one disc with nothing but behind the scenes docs. However, if you haven’t already snatched this DVD, it is well worth the package.

Rated: PG-13
Run Time:  2 hrs., 23 mins.

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

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