You won't need a bottle of rum to enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
, even if you haven't experienced the Disneyland theme-park ride that inspired it. There's a galleon's worth of fun in watching Johnny Depp's androgynous performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, a roguish pirate who could pass for the illegitimate spawn of rockers Keith Richards and Chrissie Hynde. Depp gets all the good lines and steals the show, recruiting Orlando Bloom (a blacksmith and expert swordsman) and Keira Knightley (a lovely governor's daughter). They set out on an adventurous quest to recapture the notorious Black Pearl
, a ghost ship commandeered by Jack's nemesis Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), a mutineer desperate to reverse the curse that left him and his (literally) skeleton crew in a state of eternal, undead damnation. Director Gore Verbinski (The Ring
) repeats the redundant mayhem that marred his debut film Mouse Hunt
, but with the writer's of Shrek
he's made Pirates of the Caribbean
into a special-effects thrill-ride that plays like a halloween party on the open seas. --Jeff Shannon
Loosely inspired by the a Disney theme-park ride, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
is a swashbuckling high-seas tale directed by Gore Verbinski. When camp Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), an eccentric rogue, arrives at Port Royal, he barely avoids going down with his ship. Soon enough, he's in the market for a new one, but not before he saves the life of Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), the beautiful daughter of the governor (Jonathan Pryce). This act of bravery sets into motion a sweeping adventure involving Elizabeth's childhood friend, blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom); a mysterious medallion; and a legendary pirate ship, the Black Pearl. The Pearl's mottled Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) wants Elizabeth's doubloon necklace, and when she's kidnapped by the ol' salty dog and his crew, Sparrow and young Will must rescue her and find out the truth behind the ship's curse. Verbinski's Pirates...
is a welcome throwback to Hollywood offerings of yesteryear, filled with rope-swinging heroes, crusty villains, treasure hoards, swift swordplay, and even wittier wordplay. Screenwriters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott have crafted one of the most clever action-movie scripts in many moons, and this gives the filmmakers and cast (especially Depp) plenty of room to cut loose. Although the skeletal pirates may be a bit frightening for small children, there's lots of humour to temper the scary moments, making Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
a nearly flawless fun film.