quarantine stream curse of the black pearl

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Where You Can Stream It: Disney+

The Pitch: Hey, you know that ride with the animatronic pirates? Well…what if someone made that into a movie? And the movie was actually really good, and fun, and way better than it had any right to be?

Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: What better way to set sail on the high seas from the comfort of your own home than by revisiting the first Pirates of the Caribbean? Not only does this movie transport you to another place and time, it does so in a dazzling, fun way. It’s the perfect distraction from just about everything. But…avoid the sequels.

It’s easy to forget how much damn fun the first Pirates of the Caribbean film is. The film spawned way too many sequels, and none of them even come close to recapturing the lightning-in-a-bottle magic of the first film. As a result, the sequels have tarnished the first film a little bit. Sure, all the movies made a ton of money, but money does not equal quality.

If it’s quality you want, the first film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is the way to go. To be clear, the film isn’t entirely original in its plotting – it’s borrowing a lot from Star Wars: A New Hope, with Orlando Bloom‘s Will Turner standing-in for Luke Skywalker, Keira Knightley‘s Elizabeth Swann subbing for Princess Lea, and of course, Johnny Depp‘s Captain Jack Sparrow serving as the Han Solo of the piece. But Pirates also deserves a lot of credit for finding a way to make a movie based on a theme park ride work so dang well.

I can remember when this movie was first announced, and I can also remember the snobby disdain I had at the announcement. “A movie based on a ride?” I scoffed. “How stupid!” But damn it, the results speak for themselves. The story involves a ship of cursed, undead pirates, and the characters caught in their orbit. At the center of it all is Depp’s Jack Sparrow, a character that works so well here because, despite top billing, he’s not really the main character. Again: he’s the Han Solo. One of the biggest sins the sequels made was trying to cash-in on Depp’s popularity by making the follow-up films all about Jack.

Of course, you can’t really blame them, because, in all honesty, Orlando Bloom is a bit of a dud. Sure, he’s a good looking guy, but he doesn’t have nearly enough charisma to carry a franchise. Bloom’s woodiness aside, Pirates of the Caribbean is full of wonderful action, hilarious comedy, marvelous production design, and a score (via Klaus Badelt) that makes you want to stomp your feet. It’s old school fun, and Disney has been chasing it ever since (if you don’t believe me, just remember that Disney has a movie based on the Jungle Cruise ride coming out next year).

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