We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
The long awaited Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides hits theaters this weekend -- with a stand-alone tale of Jack Sparrow's zany quest for the Fountain of Youth -- and if the first three films are any indication, this fourth installment is sure to introduce some brilliant new characters to the PotC canon. Ka-Boom! Get it? Canon!
The winds are blowing right, the time is nigh, so let us unfurl the sails and take a look back at the franchise and its beautiful tapestry of characters.
Ahoy, matey! Here be the TOP 7 PotC characters, as brought to you by The Scorecard Review:
7. Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris)
Recap: Tia Dalma is the resident voodoo lady of the PotC realm. In a world populated by undead pirates, cannibals, zombies and the like, Tia's knowledge of the black arts comes in quite handy, and on many an occasion. Reason: Who do you go to if you're best mate's been killed and you'd like to get 'im back? Tia Dalma, that's who. She knows more in the ways of black magic than anyone in the Caribbean. She's beautiful (in a living-dead girl kind of way), mysterious, and has a killer accent. She does get a little big for her britches during the climax of World's End, but it's to be expected, I suppose, from a voodoo diva like Tia Dalma -- this might have something to do with the fact that she's actually the sea goddess Calypso, but I'm going to leave that alone.
Recap: While he should be stuck shucking oysters at a Tortuga tavern, this beanpole of a thick-skulled pirate consistently finds himself at the center of the action, and he's never far from his chum, Pintel (Lee Arenberg). Reason: Always good for a laugh, he's the Laurel to Pintel's Hardy. Actor Mackenzie Crook's comedic timing is spot-on (loved him as Gareth in the REAL Office). Ragetti's flawed attempts to pursue the straight and narrow are endearing and hilarious. Perhaps not the best pick for first mate, he is good to have around when you need someone to feel smarter than.
5. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom)
Recap: He's the dashing Disney-hero archetype of the PotC franchise, but with a twist. Will Turner's tale is complex -- he is the unknowing son of the infamous pirate Bootstrap Bill, and merely a blacksmith's apprentice before his life's adventure unfolds. He jaunts from pirate-hater to pirate himself, after some revelation induced soul-searching, and eventually wins the heart of the beautiful Elizabeth Swann. In the end, their love affair turns bittersweet though, as Will finally fulfills his ultimate destiny in becoming the next captain of the Flying Dutchman. Reason: "Take a better look and, you know, see the attractiveness." Orlando Bloom is one handsome dude. But it's not just his looks; he brings Will Turner to life, and though the critics may have been cruel to these films, I don't think they can slight the character development here. The character of Will Turner is dynamic and anything but cardboard. All things considered, Will Turner is an excellent hero.
4. Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley)
Recap: The daughter of Governor Weatherby Swann, Elizabeth finds herself swept into the Caribbean tumult by way of fate, and once amidst its torrid currents, finds her luxurious life to be a thing entirely of the past. Reason: If I'm honest, I sighed just prior to typing "If I'm honest" -- Keira Knightley is so winsome it hurts. But again, as if to echo my above sentiments about her character's beau, it's not just her beauty that's at play here, Knightley does a great job at bringing Elizabeth to life, and giving her depth. Elizabeth Swann's development across the first three films is considerable -- from daddy's little rich girl, to tomboy stowaway, to Pirate Lord and eventually to Pirate King (yes, girls can be kings now) Elizabeth Swann's evolution is entirely epic. I could watch her swashbuckle all day long.
3. Davy Jones (Bill Nighy)
Recap: The ill-fated captain of the Flying Dutchman, that is, prior to Will Turner's taking of the helm. Davy Jones is the victim of a cruel curse, wherein he must sail the seven seas for all eternity (sorta), all the while with the face and body of a half-man/half-squid. Reason: There are so many reasons why Davy Jones wins the bronze here. For one, he's incredibly unique. Never before in cinema has a character like this been satisfactorily implemented. Ever seen Doctor Who? The CGI effects implemented in the character of Davy Jones are top class, the whole squid-man thing is entirely believable, which is quite a feat really. The idea that Davy Jones plays the pipe organ (and magnificently of course, with all those extra tentacles) was a brilliant idea. Bill Nighy's strong Scottish drawl, the accent through which this squid-man delivers his excellently-penned lines, is also expertly applied. "Do you fear death? Do you fear that dark abyss? All your deeds laid bare? All your sins punished? I can offer you…an escape."
2. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush)
Recap: Like many of the characters in the PotC realm, Barbossa is a morally complex character. When first introduced he was the antagonist du jour, but with time, trials and tribulation, he switches over to the good side, well the "good side," at least speaking in morally relativistic (pirate) terms. Reason: Geoffrey Rush is the reason. Barbossa is an interesting enough character, but really, on paper, in the script alone, he's not 2nd place material. Rush brings to Barbossa such dynamism, such warmth, such conflict, such charisma. I'm not sure if Barbossa is a fan favorite, but he's certainly one of mine. I'm happy to see he's around for the fourth adventure.
1. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp)
Recap: The consummate scoundrel, Jack Sparrow is self-centered, impulsive, glory hungry, and conniving (yes, even for a pirate). He's not necessarily the protagonist of the entire franchise, but with this Friday's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, yes, I guess he has become such. Reason: The character of Jack Sparrow was an invention of sheer creative genius, primarily thanks to the delicate craftsmanship of Johnny Depp. Though the writers and director Gore Verbinski certainly deserve plenty of credit as well, as much of Jack Sparrow's charm bubbles to the surface through his interactions with his surroundings, with his fellow characters, and through the zany predicaments they all find themselves in. Take for example, one of my favorite cinematic moments in all of Hollywood's history, when we are very first introduced to Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. He's standing proudly atop his mast, sailing into Port Royal, looking about as cool as any mangy pirate ever could, and only gradually do we realize that his ship is a complete hunk of junk, and is steadily sinking as he approaches the dock. With perfect timing the boat arrives with just enough float left in her to deposit Sparrow dockside, who hops daintily off his sinking wreck and moves on with his day as if this was all entirely regular. Such an amazing moment, and it defines his character perfectly. Brilliant dialogue, brilliant situations, brilliant costume design and makeup, and of course, the brilliant acting of Johnny Depp have all conspired here, and looking down at my compass, I see it's pointing directly at Jack Sparrow, for the obvious number one slot in this week's TOP 7.