Thursday, 14 July 2016

Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl.

I've never been to any form of Disney theme park.
As such, I had no idea that they had a ride based around pirates.
This ride was apparently so cool that they decided to make a movie based on it.
Aka: Johnny Depp, the movie.
And it was insanely popular.
But not for the reasons Disney expected.

The movie starts in Ye Olden Daystm, with a ship sailing through thick fog.
Specifically, this ship.
It approaches a shipwreck as a young girl sings a song about pirates, before she's stopped by a sailor proclaiming it to be bad luck. They are revealed to be Mr. Gibbs and a young Elizabeth Swan.
Back when Gibbs wore a rather nice hat.
Norrington arrives and chastises Gibbs for scaring the young girl.
And this is the part that drives home to me the fact that Norrington is much, much older than the girl he eventually proposes to.
This week on "To catch a predator."
Elizabeth wanders away while Norrington and her father chat. And that's when Elizabeth spots a young boy drifting past on a piece of wreckage.
He's not going to get much of a tan in this weather.
The sailors drag him aboard and Elizabeth keeps an eye on him. He wakes up for a moment, long enough to tell her that his name's William Turner, before losing consciousness.
And then she loots the body.
The medallion around Will's neck is gold and has a skull in the middle, so Elizabeth hides it, worried that he's a pirate.
We skip many years (Which Elizabeth later states to be 8) and Elizabeth is now roughly 18-20 years of age.
And she's learned how to wake up with perfect hair and makeup.
Turns out the opening was both a dream and a flashback wrapped up into one, which inspires Elizabeth to wear the medallion.
But before she can remove it she gets interrupted by her father, who has a present for her, a new dress, following the latest fashions back in England.
Although there is some difficulty associated with the dress.
This is why it's important to double-check measurements before buying a girl a dress.
Governor Swan admits that he bought it for her to wear to Norrington's promotion ceremony.
And then we're introduced to adult Will Turner, played by Orlando Bloom.
And debate still rages today as to who's hotter. Him or Johnny?
Will's there to hand over a sword which Swan commissioned for Norrington. The scene explains the remaining backstory very neatly. Will was apprenticed to a blacksmith, but he and Elizabeth clearly have a thing for each other, which they can't act on due to social standing.
And it's also pretty obvious that Will's the one who made the sword.
Will's sword is to these movies as Anakin's lightsabre is to Star Wars.
The Swan's leave and the scene transitions into our first appearance of a character who is now legendary.
Captain Jack Sparrow.
And he's just as impressive as the rumours say.
He 'sails' into Port Royal, where he gets accosted by a bureaucrat complaining about the fee for tying up a ship at the docks.
To be fair, it is still taking up space.
With some weaselly words and a small bribe, Jack wiggles his way out of giving his name.
And then steals back more than he paid.
Pretty decent introduction to his character. But there's more to come later which will really introduce him.
"Take what you can."
While Norrington's ceremony takes place, Jack takes the lack of guards elsewhere as an opportunity to sneak onto a boat.
But he gets stopped by two of my favourite characters, Mullroy and Murtogg.
A.K.A. the two numbskulls.
They're essentially Laurel and Hardy as soldiers.
They discuss the two ships behind them, the HMS Dauntless and the HMS Interceptor. Murtogg brags that there's no ship that can match the Interceptor for speed, but Jack intercedes that the Black Pearl could outrun it.
This causes the two redcoats to get into an argument about whether or not the Pearl exists, allowing Jack time to give them the slip.
It also sets up the important facts about the three ships involved, which are practically characters in their own rights.
And they are very pretty boats.
The Tweedledums confront Jack on the Interceptor and demand that he tell them his purpose in Port Royal.
And so he very honestly tells them that he's there to steal a ship.
One actual thing about Jack Sparrow, which you'll notice if you pay very careful attention.
He doesn't actually lie.
Oh sure, he rarely tells the whole truth. He'll sometimes exaggerate. But with the exception of how he escaped being stranded on a desert island, I can't recall any incident of him flat out lying.
This is the face of the most honest dishonest man in cinema. Honestly.
Meanwhile, Norrington's ceremony is rapping up and he decides to pull Elizabeth aside for a small chat.
Where he proposes to her.
Kinda creepy, considering the age difference.
Let's just hope he doesn't use the phrase "Love at first sight."
However, climbing the stairs in her corset proved to be too much for Elizabeth and she faints, falling directly off the castle towards the rocks below.
Ah well, more fish in the sea. Alongside Elizabeth's drowned corpse.
Luckily for Elizabeth (And the plot) Jack was happily chatting away with the two idiots (Should I call them the Twidiots? I like the sound of that) and they hear her splash into the water. Since neither of the Twidiots can swim Jack hands them his stuff and dives in.
Considering he's supposed to be a cutthroat brigand, he endangers himself to protect others surprisingly often.
Jack saves Elizabeth just in time for Norrington to arrive. Only problem is, due to Jack's removal of Elizabeth's corset, her father gets quite the wrong idea.
But Norrington does thank Jack for saving her life and shakes Jack's hand.
The Royal Navy has a very unusual secret handshake.
Norrington identifies him as Captain Jack Sparrow and orders his arrest. Then he goes through Jack's personal effects.
Notably, a pistol with one bullet and a compass that doesn't point North.
Of course, we find out the secret to both of these items later, but for now, Jack has an escape attempt to make.
And this is where things get awesome.
My very favourite thing about these movies are Jack's wildly over-the-top escapes. In this one, he uses Elizabeth as leverage to get his valuables returned to him. Then he manages to slip out from beneath twenty+ armed men and attain quite a head start.
His escape went right over their heads.
Once he gets to the village he finds the Blackmith's, where he attempts to remove his handcuffs.
And where he meets his new best friend.
This is how all the best friendships start.
Jack tries to leave, but Will blocks his way. They have a swordfight, which is very well choreographed. It involves hammers, brands, rafters and a donkey.
It also introduces Will's ability to throw a sword very solidly into wood.
Luckily for Jack, he has exceptional aim.
Will tries to fight honourably, but Jack doesn't, eventually getting the upper hand. It all ends with Jack pointing his gun at Will, pleading for him to move out of the way so that he doesn't have to get shot.
Luckily for them both, a glass bottle intervenes.
Jack falls unconscious just as Norrington and his men force the door open. Norrington congratulates the blacksmith for capturing Jack, completely ignoring Will's efforts, which gets this reaction.
"Well I guess I'll just be over here, doing my chopped liver impression."
 Later that night, Jack is locked in his cell. Elizabeth chats to her maid. Will makes another sword. Norrington chats to the governor atop the fort.
And that's when the titular Black Pearl finally shows up.
Ok, so our first look ain't exactly grand.
The Pearl attacks Port Royale with cannon fire before unloading several boats worth of rather colourful pirates.
Including these two buffoons.
The pirates attack the people, which attracts the attentions of Will, who takes one down with an axe throw. He is rather surprised a few minutes later when that same pirate shows up again, none the worse for wear.
He even waves a cute little hello.
Luckily, Will just gets knocked out and the pirate runs off.
Meanwhile, the two buffoons go to the governor's house to kidnap Elizabeth. While she fights them off for a while they eventually corner her, mentioning that the gold calls to them.
Then she invokes the right of parley.
And not a moment too soon.
Elizabeth requests to talk to their captain, which is rather a weird thing for someone who believes they're being kidnapped to do.
Meanwhile, two of the pirates find their way into the cells, where they meet Jack.
Who, it turns out, they've met before.
And don't seem to like very much.
Notice the moonlight, it's actually very important.
Jack calls them mutineers, which gets Koehler (The one with the dreads) angry enough to grab him by the neck.
And reveals something very interesting.
He suffers from malnutrition.
After they leave the Moon gets hidden by clouds again, just in time for Elizabeth to meet the man so evil that Hell itself spat him back out.
And his little monkey too.
Captain Barbossa is played by Geoffrey Rush, who quite frankly looks like he's having the time of his life. He's just about the only actor willing to put on the traditional pirate accent.
Which may explain why he garnered such a huge fanbase.
Elizabeth attempts to negotiate the cessation of hostilities against Port Royal.
The face everyone in the audience made.
He asks for a simple explanation, then responds that he's disinclined to acquiesce to her request.
Proving that even evil masterminds can have a sense of humour.
But Elizabeth comes back with a stunning quip.
Namely, threatening to throw the medallion off the edge of the ship.
So that's the face a woman makes when she wins an argument. I've never seen it myself.
Barbossa asks for her name, which she gives as Elizabeth Turner, for some strange reason.
Barbossa agrees to leave Port Royal alone, but he doesn't give Elizabeth a chance to disembark first.
There's a small plothole here, which may require a bit of a spoiler warning.
Warning: Spoiler is still amazing.
Ok, here goes. The pirates act all scared when Elizabeth threatens to drop the medallion, but later on they walk beneath a ship, under the water. So why were they scared about the medallion being dropped? Especially if it calls to them so they can find it easily.
Anyhoo, next morning Will wakes up and immediately rushes to the fort in order to inform Norrington that Elizabeth was kidnapped (He saw her being escorted away just before getting knocked out).
Norrington dismisses Will, telling him that he's got everything under control and that Will's not needed.
He reacts calmly.
One of the Twidiots mentions that Jack seemed familiar with the Black Pearl so Will demands that Norrington ask him, but once again Norrington dismisses him.
So Will goes by himself.
Jack initially refuses, but upon learning Will's full name he agrees.
They even shake hands on it. Whilst escaping from prison.
Once outside Jack comes up with a cunning plan to commandeer a ship. First, they break the laws of physics.
Dagnabbit Mythbusters, why must you ruin everything?
Turns out that what they're doing isn't possible. The wood plus the air needed to breath would be too buoyant for them to hold down.
Now, if they'd tied cannonballs to it, maybe it would be a different story.
They use this technique to board the HMS Dauntless, surprising the guards and telling them to leave.
Will wasn't exactly threatening back then.
Lt. Gillette points out that the ship hasn't been readied and would need a crew of more than two to sail.
Jack just points out that he's Captain Jack Sparrow and makes him leave.
Lt. Groves spots what's going on and the HMS Interceptor sails over to it, performing a boarding action.
Which Jack and Will use as a distraction to sneak onto the Interceptor, commandeering that one instead.
I believe the word is "Yoink".
As they sail away Norrington discovers that they sabotaged the rudder, preventing the Dauntless from giving chase and leaving both Norrington and Groves looking on with slackjawed admiration.
His career as Commodore hasn't gone too well so far.
Out at sea Will asks Jack about his father. Jack responds that Bootstrap Bill was one of the best pirates he ever sailed with. Will doesn't take this well, but Jack talks him around.
He's very persuasive.
They sail into Tortuga, where Jack meets some of his exes.
He apparently had a smacking good time.
They make their way through Tortuga and find an old pal of Jack's, a man we've actually already been introduced to. Mr Joshamee Gibbs.
His life isn't exactly on a high right now.
That night Elizabeth dines with Barbossa, where he tells her about the cursed Aztec gold that he and his crew stole. More precisely, he tells her about the curse itself, which turned them into undead monstrosities who will suffer for eternity unless they return all of the gold and a blood offering from each pirate who stole it.
And since they sank Bootstrap to the bottom of the Atlantic, they need to find his only child and use that child's blood as a proxy.
Elizabeth doesn't believe him of course, so he shows her.
"Ye best start believing in ghost stories Miss Turner, ye're in one."
Meanwhile, Jack and Gibbs have a short chat about Jack's plans before Gibbs rounds up a trusty crew to man the Interceptor.
Err, I mean a trusty crew to man and/or woman the ship.
Everyone boards the ship (Including Anamaria, whom I'm really disappointed didn't appear in any of the sequels) and that night they face a storm. Will asks why Jack's so happy about chasing a ship using a compass that doesn't point North, but Gibbs points out that they're not trying to find North.
The single most important item in all four movies.
Once they get nearer to the Isla De Muerta, Gibbs explains Jack's backstory. He was the captain of the Pearl and gathered a crew from Tortuga to find the legendary Aztec treasure. But three days into the journey first mate Barbossa  mutinied, marooning Jack on an island with nothing but a pistol with a single shot.
And very clear instructions on what to do with it.
Jack apparently escaped in rather a fantastical fashion involving sea turtles.
As I mentioned, that method turned out to be the one thing he ever lied about.
And I was just starting to trust him to be dishonest.
Jack and Will go ashore, stealthily hiding from Barbossa's crew, who are standing around the recovered Aztec gold. Will wants to dive right in to save her, but Jack points out that they need to wait for the opportune moment. So Will takes the opportune moment to clobber Jack around the head with an oar.
Jack's oddness might have more to do with the repeated head trauma than anything else.
Barbossa places the medallion in Elizabeth's hand and cuts her across the palm before dropping it into the chest with the others, to rapturous applause.
As the pirates start to realise that they have no way of knowing if the curse has been lifted or not, Barbossa settles the argument.
By shooting Pintel in the chest.
Well this is just plain awkward.
Barbossa angrily demands an explanation and Elizabeth refuses to answer, getting smacked to the ground. Whilst the pirates argue with each other Will sneaks her away. Once Barbossa regains order they notice she's missing and search, only to find the last person they expected.
One very confused Jack Sparrow.
Jack calls for parley and so they take him to Barbossa, who almost immediately orders them to kill him. An order he's forced to rescind once Jack says he knows why Elizabeth's blood didn't work.
The disappointment is palpable.
Back on the Interceptor Will and Elizabeth have a moment, which is ruined when Will discovers the medallion. Elizabeth explains that she took it because she was worried that he was a pirate. Will realises that it was his blood they need and it finally hits him that his father truly was a pirate.
My father was lowly scum too but you don't see me angsting about it.
Back on the Pearl Barbossa and Jack are having a nice talk. Jack's telling Barbossa that he'll leave him stranded on an island whilst he shouts the name back from the Pearl as he sails away.
The hilarious thing is that if you stop to think about it, the name he'd shout back would just be William Turner, which would be no help since that's also the name Jack always referred to Bootstrap by.
Captain Jack Sparrow proves that honesty can be a weapon, provided you use the right leverage.
However, the Bo'sun arrives and informs Barbossa that they're approaching the Interceptor and Barbossa orders them to attack it, despite Jack's pleas.
After a pretty cool naval battle, Jack and his entire crew are held prisoner by Barbossa, save for Will who got trapped on the Interceptor looking for the medallion.
It was a really cool battle though.
The monkey managed to find the medallion and brought it back to Barbossa. Just as Elizabeth realises Will's not there, the Interceptor explodes.
Finally, a movie with a (Somewhat) realistic explosion.
Just as Barbossa throws a protesting Elizabeth to his crew Will clambers onto the railings and threatens to shoot himself if they don't let her go.
"Stop or the white boy gets it."
Everybody looks at him like he's a crazy person until he tells them his name, which changes their tune quite drastically, allowing Will to barter for the crews' freedom as well as Elizabeths'.
Although he failed to specify where they were to be dropped off, so Elizabeth and Jack both get dumped onto the same island he had previously been stranded on.
Technically they did give her a choice about whether to be stranded or not.
Something that baffles me though, Barbossa throws Jack's effects overboard, including the compass. I know that Barbossa doesn't need it to find the Isla De Muerta, but the compass doesn't just lead there. As revealed in later movies it points to your hearts desire. I guess it's possible that he simply didn't know what it did, but in later movies it hardly seems like a secret.
On the island Elizabeth is trying to persuade Jack to escape again so they can save Will, but Jack admits the truth of how he escaped.
He got picked up by rum-smugglers, who used the island as a secret hiding spot for their wares.
"Welcome to the Caribbean love."
That night when Jack's enjoying a rum-induced stupor, Elizabeth burns all of the rest in order to make a massive bonfire that can be seen from miles around.
By sheer coincidence, this gets noticed by the crew of the Dauntless, as captained by Norrington himself.
What were the odds of that?
Norrington and the governor both refuse to save Will, due to his association with pirates. Jack tries to convince Norrington to capture the Pearl and make his name legendary, but Norrington isn't tempted by his ego.
He is, however, tempted by love, so when Elizabeth asks him to save Will as a wedding present for her, he agrees.
Feminine wiles in action.
Once they get to the Isla Des Muerta, Jack convinces Norrington to let him go in first, in order to persuade Barbossa's men to come out into an ambush.
He also persuades Norrington to lock up Elizabeth, since there's still a danger to her.
The fact that it also prevents her from messing with his plans is a bonus.
Inside, Barbossa prepares to cut Will's neck, but is halted when Jack calmly walks in right behind them.
Admit it, you did not expect the zombie pirate captain to be the one questioning whether he's seeing ghosts.
barbossa decides not to let anything get in the way and orders Will's execution, but Jack just quietly mentions that he doesn't want to do that.
This is what I love about Captain Jack Sparrow, the fact that he can walk practically unarmed into a cave full of murderous pirates who especially want to murder him, but he's the one holding all of the cards, leading to the endless frustration of those he's facing.
The eye roll says it all.
Jack explains that Norrington is waiting outside to blow them all to pieces, but if they wait for the opportune moment to remove the curse, they can slaughter them all and get two ships. Plus, Barbossa can introduce himself as Commodore Barbossa.
Of course, whilst he does so he's planning on how he's going to double-cross him, which only Will and the audience get to see.
See that glimmer of gold? Well, do you also remember how we were introduced to Jack? Put two and two together.
Barbossa agrees (BUt only after Jack offers to buy him a really big hat) and he orders his men to take a walk.
Notice that spoiler bit earlier? This is it.
And it is epic.
Whilst this is going on, Elizabeth escapes from the Dauntless, then sneaks aboard the Pearl and frees the hostages. She even takes out the two guards and the monkey.
But she hits a stumbling block when she tries to persuade the crew to help rescue Will.
They're pirates and the code states that any who fall behind, stay behind.
"Bloody pirates!"
Meanwhile, Barbossa's men attack the Dauntless, but one of the men manages to ring the warning bell, notifying Norrington of what's happening.
And inside the cave? Jack steals a sword and frees Will, leading to an epic battle where Will fends off three undead pirates whilst Jack fights Barbossa.
That is, until Barbossa realises that it's all pointless and lets Jack stab him, only to pull the sword out and run Jack through with it.
The exasperation is palpable.
I guess the old adage of "I'm rubber, you're glue" can be true in certain situations.
Of course, Jack had his secret plan, so he's not really that bothered by a sword through the stomach.
It's a curse... And a gift.
Jack and Barbossa fight some more, with neither getting the upper hand due to neither being able to deliver a killing blow.
That's when Elizabeth shows up and helps Will defeat the three undead pirates by using their own bombs against them.
Rest In Pieces indeed.
Jack and Barbossa fight some more and Jack finally unloads his pistol into Barbossa's heart. Barbossa mocks Jack for wasting a bullet he'd carried around for ten years, but once again Jack is privy to some information that Barbossa isn't.
Namely, that Will has lifted the curse.
It's hard not to feel sad for him.
Back on the ship Norrington stabs Koehler, who actually falls over and dies.
Which rather shocks the rest of the pirates.
At least Barbossa had some warning.
At first it confused me as to why all of the pirates surrendered. They had already killed most of the redcoats so if they kept fighting they could have easily won. But then it hit me. They would risk everything to do so. They had worked for ten years under the curse. Now that it was lifted they wouldn't want to risk dying immediately. Sure, getting captured may mean inevitable death, but at least it guarantees them a last meal and the warmth of the sun on their faces. Something they wouldn't get if they died here and now.
So Barbossa is dead and the pirates have been captured, so everything's rosy right?
Er, not quite.
All dressed up and nowhere to go.
After they return to Port Royal, Jack of course is taken to the gallows (Although it's worth noting that he's granted respect and is on his own, not with the other pirates captured).
Just as the lever gets pulled to drop him though, Will reuses his sword throwing ability, this time to aid Jack.
Not sure about whether this is feasible, but since the Mythbusters have retired we may never know.
Will rescues Jack and they make their way to the fort balcony that Elizabeth fell off of earlier. Jack says his farewells to everybody, especially Will's nice new hat.
It is an incredibly nice hat.
Jack notices Cotton's parrot above him and dives off the cliff, ready to swim to the Pearl resting just outside the bay.
Lt. Gillette asks if they're going to give chase, but Norrington decides that one days head start might not be such a bad thing. He also acknowledges that Will made his sword and breaks off his engagement to Elizabeth.
See? This is what a Lawful Good character should act like.
After the credits, the monkey retrieves another piece of the treasure, since he apparently really likes being undead.
Because undead pirate monkey, amirite?
This movie was beyond amazing. The action, the drama, the romance, the comedy. Heck, even the CGI still holds up, 14 years later. Not many movies can say that.
Next time, I go back to ancient China, with one of the actresses from Agents of SHIELD.

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