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Johnny Depp
Orlando Bloom
Keira Knightley
Geoffrey Rush.
Gore Verbinski.
Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio.
Running Time
143 minutes

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Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
Johnny Depp steals the show in Bruckheimer's pirate blockbuster.

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The only way the crew of the Black Pearl can lift the curse upon them is to return a golden Aztec coin to its treasure chest. But that coin is currently hanging around the lovely neck of British Governor's daughter, Elizabeth Swann…

Year after year, lazy poster quotes try to convince audiences that the latest blockbuster movie is "a rollercoaster ride". Pirates Of The Caribbean does, in actual fact, have its roots in a theme park attraction — a slow-moving boat trip past richly detailed tableaux of lusty buccaneers and skeletons who breathed their last grasping for forbidden treasure; not the most likely base material to turn into cinema gold. But producer Jerry Bruckheimer proves yet again that he's a big-screen alchemist where sheer entertainment is concerned. Pirates Of The Caribbean is, without a doubt, the best blockbuster of the summer.

Director Gore Verbinski steers his ship through choppy commercial waters by keeping the romance, adventure and comedy on an even keel. If there's the slightest niggle to be had, it's probably that the swashbuckling sequences don't really lay down a challenge to the Zorros or Robin Hoods. But such cares are swept aside by a rollicking tale of pirate lore, with cursed treasure, secret identities and enough acts of betrayal and loyalty to keep the final showdown as sparky as the firecrackers in Blackbeard's whiskers.

It's also very funny. Shrek writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio spice up the pirate genre as gamely as they did fairy tales; but on the comedy map it's Johnny Depp's inspired turn as Captain Jack Sparrow that really marks the spot. Depp, arguing that pirates were the rock stars of their day, models his entire performance on Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones: it's there in every slurred vowel and every drug-fried wiggle of the head. There's an endearing dignity to Sparrow's hunger for fame. "You are, without doubt, the worst pirate I've heard of," says one British officer. "Yes," replies Jack, "but you have heard of me." Gloriously over-the-top, this performance is pitched only as high as the film's fun factor itself. In terms of physical precision and verbal delivery, it's a masterclass in comedy acting.

Depp steals the show, but leaves some plunder for Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, surely the sexiest young couple in British cinema — nay, the world. Orlando plays it straight but gets the girl; and if you think Keira looks good in a dress, wait until you see her running around in redcoat and breeches.

Others clearly having a ball while gigging in the rigging include Geoffrey Rush with his panto Captain Hook routine, and CG-eyed pirate Mackenzie Crook (from The Office). Without a previous formula to adhere to or franchise to maintain (the spin-off ride exists already), Pirates revels in its freedom to do its own thing. That said, its adventure style is indebted to the likes of Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Mummy in its mix of matinée action and horror that won't send the kids shrieking from the room.

The ghostly figures on the Black Pearl are cursed to sail the seas in a state between living and dead. When they step into full moonlight, their rotting flesh and bones become visible adding a delightful shiver to proceedings. Best of all, Pirates is a film that prides itself on lively detail and top-grade craftsmanship, but doesn't take itself too seriously. That's a lesson that nearly every one of its blockbuster rivals would do well to take on board. Audiences aren't cajoled into feeling that they should be having fun; they simply are having fun because the movie is too.

Johnny, the kids and the pirates have a number-one hit on their hands. They raise the Jolly Roger and make other summer blockbusters walk the plank.

Reviewed by Alan Morrison

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
Empire Star Rating

Pirates is the best film

this is the best film in the world ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by staceyann90 at 16:51, 29 July 2006 | Report This Post


loved the darn thing! who could ever give it lessd than 5 stars. everyone is sooooo good in it, and it has a storyline, (something rare in a disney film!) ... More

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Posted by Newg at 13:39, 11 July 2006 | Report This Post

... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by elven at 04:47, 09 July 2006 | Report This Post

I was expecting a lot from a movie that promised comedy, adventure, romance - and ghost-pirates. Depp's performance does steal the film, Keira is a vision, and the skeletal pirates are worth waiting for, but I can't help thinking it could have been much better. The plot seems to go round in circles, the secondary characters are all limp and charmless (with the exception of Jonathon Price's, but that's largely down to Price's ability to make the most of very little); and the humour just doe... More

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Posted by badsanta at 03:18, 07 July 2006 | Report This Post

this is a great film ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by casino at 21:08, 02 July 2006 | Report This Post

All out adventure. Classic fun that's impossible to resist!

Redefining what good family blockbuster films are for me. This surprised me the first time I saw it in the cinema as I was expecting a good to average film but totally fell for it hook, line and sinker. Johnny Depp is on storming form conjuring the irresistable and now classic Captain Jack Sparrow. The rest of the cast carry the film well with Depp. Geoff Rush provides a great nemesis to Sparrow with plenty of evil laughs and "Arrrrs" to boot. Both Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are... More

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Posted by Rich Empire at 20:16, 12 June 2006 | Report This Post

A bit long, but other than an exceptional film. ... More

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Posted by huny_monster at 11:26, 11 June 2006 | Report This Post

perfect plunder

An amazing triumph of a film, fun, witty, brilliant screen play and so entertaining puts some other films to shame. Its nice to see a live disney film that is actually a success rather than a flop of mush. Loved johnny depp, loved the feel of the film, loved it all really. Masterful acting, and a perfect cast combined with a perfect environment eg the carribean you have got yourself a classic, perfect film! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alexisreaver2132 at 11:29, 16 May 2006 | Report This Post

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