I love it. The whole thing is hysterically amusing, and simply terrific fun to watch; one of the most entertaining big releases I've seen for years. Total nonsense of course, but massively entertaining; people of all ages can find something to enjoy here, if only to spot how many films the writers have parodied. Tongue in cheek is very firmly the order of the day here.
The acting is of an extremely high standard -Geoffrey Rush in particular does a magnificent job as Barbosa; of all the roles in the film, this one is the true gift, as it's classic, full-on cliche from start to finish, and he goes for the maximum effect in no uncertain terms. Superbly over-the-top, I take my (really big) hat off to him. The end to his first scene is a wonderful example -just watch his eyes move when talking about 'guidelines'.
Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly are excellent in their own roles, Jonathan Pryce has his own unique presence, even in a notionally 'nice' role like this, and everyone clearly had a great time. Even the more minor characters were superb. Beautifully stylised, and beautifully realised by people who believe in a sense of professionalism.
But OK, like everyone else, I'll say it. What really lingers in the mind makes this film is Johnney Depp's magical performance, mincing about in dark eyeshadow and liner, with a South African accent that also blends shots of Irish and God-only-knows what into it. Where on Earth did that come from? It's utterly manic, in the best possible way. Mesmerising. While Barbosa is a gift of a role, Jack Sparrow is not, for the character is a stylised, not a cliche'd one, and as such, is not an easy role to play. Johnny Depp rises to the occasion astoundingly, and takes things to another level, whilst retaining artistic integrety. If Keith Richard's was a pirate...
The direction is very impressive. It helps that the script is good, with tightly written dialogue, and a sense that there was a desire to include everything that could possibly be thrown in to make the best possible entertainment without crippling the story by too many additional subplots.
Pacing is about right, though personally, I'd have actually added some of the deleted scenes back in, particularly Depp and Knightly's extended island pieces, which adds quite a bit more depth to their respective characters. This is one of the very few occasions I can think of where I believe a film, far from needing cutting, could actually support another 5 minutes or so. The benefits would outweigh the drawbacks in my view; they could just have made it an extended edition. Oh well. There's great flare shown, delightful humour in presentation, and it moves fluidly, with little slowing of the generally very brisk pace. The effects (visual and audio) and stunts are frequently extremely amusing, and also invariably of a high standard -very good indeed, as you'd expect from a Disney release: they have a reputation for firing cash at wheir productions to get them looking and sounding right, and this is probably the best example so far. There's huge full-range sound, retaining massive energy down to 20Hz, and great dynamic swings, with little evidence of compression. Oh yes, the score is very well-matched to the film too, superbly played, and loaded with deliberate melodrama. Very entertaining.
The DVD issues are all good, superbly mastered, with a delightfully crisp picture quality, lovely colour, and very nicely mixed sound, with a good balance between music / effects and dialoge, which is usually crystal clear. The 2 and 3 disc sets are best, primarily because they are now very cheap -only a little more than the regular release, so why not. They're stuffed with extras, and very nicely presented. The third disc in the triple disc edition is perhaps going a little too far, but that's the one I bought, simply because it cost me no more than the regular release[s].
Is it the greatest film ever? Of course not, and I doubt anyone would pretend it is. 2001: A Space Odyssey it is not. But it is vastly entertaining, and oddly, actually supports repeat viewings, which you can't say about many monster releases. At the very low prices now charged, it'd be a shame not to indulge yourself in a bit of sheer escapism.