Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12
Cast
Johnny Depp
Orlando Bloom
Keira Knightley
Geoffrey Rush.
Directors
Gore Verbinski.
Screenwriters
Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio.
Running Time
143 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating
Enemy
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

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


submit to reddit


Plot
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…


Review
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.


Verdict
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


Related Reviews
Books
Disneywar: The Battle For The Magic Kingdom
 
Games
Pirates Of The Caribbean
 
Sounds
Pirates of The Caribbean
 

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

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

This film can be watched over and over and still be brilliant. Yes, there are many flaws throughout this film, but it remains so exciting, so funny and so brilliantly told that you are prepared to overlook them. Depp and Rush carry the performances but this clever storyline that brings in childhood memories can easily stand alone. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danfacey711 at 20:16, 12 March 2013 | Report This Post


Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Review

May leave you exhausted like the theme park ride that inspired it; however, you'll have a good time when it's over, mainly thanks to Johnny Depp's performance. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 10:23, 25 December 2011 | Report This Post


Pirates are back!

It began life as a ride. It became one of the most iconic movie franchises of all time, propelling its stars into the mainstream, particularly Johnny Depp, who many may not remember, though a house hold name but was still only teetering on stardom. Since then, many have disparaged his Keith Richard’s inspired performance as being over top, old hat and just plain overrated, but for the most part, I’m not one of them. The film’s first two sequels severely damaged the good work done here, but... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by neopol at 09:02, 03 June 2011 | Report This Post


Full of Awesomeness

This film has the ultimate package of everything to entertain a variety of audiences: action, adventure, excitement/suspense, romance, comedy. In my opinion, Depp's best performance and the film that made me notice how amazing of an actor he is; he is Captain Jack, through and through and what made money for Disney through out the whole franchise. It's one of those films which would never get boring to watch and will continue to watch until I'm old & grey! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tonidepp16 at 16:13, 04 March 2011 | Report This Post


What are you people smoking?

This film is terrible!, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley can't act, the action is dull because there is lame jokes thrown in while it's happening, and i have no idea why Depp gets so many plaudit's for his performance IT'S ANNOYING!. The plot is boring, the acting is either wooden or hammy, the jokes aren't funny, the action scene's suck!. Why do people like this film? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shambino at 00:13, 20 April 2010 | Report This Post


A fun ride of plenty

What more could you want. Pirates, humour for all ages. Johnny Depp's brilliant turn as Captain Jack Sparrow, Aside from all the pirate fun, there is a lovely romance story between Orlando and Keira's characters, and the CGI neither dead nor alive pirates is beautifully done. All in all, a perfect blockbuster acquring all people's tastes! :D Can i add how brilliant Depp's Sparrow really is, he completes the movie, and makes it as well! Wonderful ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by megank13 at 18:54, 01 April 2010 | Report This Post


But why's the rum gone??

Great fun for all ages, it has everything- action,pirates, humour, brilliant effects,amazing cast and a good plot what more do you need? It was Captain Jack Sparrow that stole the show with his witty remarks, drunken walk, and why's the rum gone ? which made it so entertaining. I've even got a Jack sparrow tattoo xx ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by deppfanatic at 13:24, 20 September 2009 | Report This Post


Fun, Enjoyable, Silly and Amusing...it really is based on a theme park ride

i loved the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at disney and couldnt wait to see the film. it did not dissapoint Johnny Depp dominates the screen with his fun, exciting and charismatic Captain Jack being the heartbeat of this film. His role and performance sets the whole beat down for the film its fun, action packed, amusing, adventure, enjoyable and exciting. It had all the ingredients for an action packed summer blockbuster, the rogue hero, the love story, the action and the villain. all wrapped up... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by THE DALTONATOR at 09:56, 29 January 2009 | Report This Post


WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU ALL TALKING ABOUT!

What is so great about this film.Johnny Depp is brilliant in it and it can be funny at parts, but 5 stars,is every one crazy.Keira and Orlando drive me crazy! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnPaul1996 at 16:06, 27 June 2008 | Report This Post


The Best Live-Action For Years.

I remember going to see it with my family in screen 4, one of the best comfortable seats ever and we are all blown away with this movie full of action, adventure and romance. It takes you in a new level away from reality, something wonderful and makes your dreams as a pirate frightfully real! Johnny Depp is without doubt the best in this movie, he is charming and very funny as Captain Jack Sparrow, I adore him in this movie and I'm glad he had a Oscar nom because his perfomance is utterly brilla... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 08:41, 30 April 2008 | Report This Post


Man, this is really awesome. I really don't like films of this genre, but I loved this. Highly recommended. You definitely have to see this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 00:24, 22 April 2008 | Report This Post


I haven't had this much carnal pleasure since I ate my own foot

I really enjoyed this. I thought this was a brilliant piece of filmmaking. sadly, the others didn't follow suit. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:21, 27 February 2008 | Report This Post


One of the best films (if not the best) of 2003!!! Funny, exciting and entertaining !! Brilliant!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cdjwfan at 18:21, 15 February 2008 | Report This Post


Bloody brilliant

Funny, exciting, action packed, scary. A pirate movie that's not a pirate movie. Filled with nice little touches that play brilliantly off the stereotypes and images of pirates. Depp is astounding. JACK SPARROW FOREVER. Only he could have pulled that character off and still made the film believable and interesting. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 01:54, 01 February 2008 | Report This Post


Best of 2003!!!

This film was my favourite of 2003!!! Full of laughs and action! I could watch this film again and again! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lewey T at 13:19, 30 January 2008 | Report This Post


Great fun, has the mark of a great film in the way that you can watch it again and again and again and... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by samthemanc at 10:30, 03 December 2007 | Report This Post


still think Orlando Bloom is a shit actor ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 16:45, 24 October 2007 | Report This Post


A action adventure treat and could beat the LOTR film's and has overcome the dark day's since the The Lord of the Ring's trilogy ended and has set a new mark on the map for action adventure comedie's. Johnny Depp in one of his finest role's and Orlando Bloom has become a more known face now. Keira Knightley has become the sex icon of film's at the start of the new mellenium. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Big Alex at 10:04, 15 August 2007 | Report This Post


Great Film SAVVY

Pirates is a great film if yiu stick to it there are some long dragging moments but that makes up for the non stop action! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AlexanderThraves at 21:55, 07 July 2007 | Report This Post


Most fun I had in 2003

Pirates of the carribean has an infectious sense of fun and speed that may tire some but this is anincredibly exciting film for the most part. The film demonstrates great sword fights and extrodinary special effects. However whatultimately lends even greater distinction and credibility to this blockbuster is Johny Depp. The film fells to long but in comparison to the recent sequels, one cannot complain too much. However, the film is a bit exhausting. By the ending, even the most tolerant filmgo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ace Rothstein at 12:39, 26 May 2007 | Report This Post


POTC

remind mewhy this is a 12. there is a bit of violence and i have seen scarier ghost in casper. anyway back to the review. there are good performances in this from bloom and depp, there is a good storyline and brilliantly directed but that dosent give the movie 5 stars it goes on for too long and overall it isnt that interesting watching piratesget drunk. The comedy isnt funny-at all but waaaaaaaay better than potc 2. An exceptional film but there ARE faults. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rockerjo at 17:15, 24 February 2007 | Report This Post


5 stars is a bit much

At most this film is a 4 star, btu its harmless light fun of no real consequence or quality. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Tom at 21:56, 29 December 2006 | Report This Post


Not a bad word to say about it, everything about this movie is fantastic, except Kiera Knightly! Everything has to have one flaw ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tired_geek86 at 01:04, 30 July 2006 | Report This Post


Not a bad word to say about it, everything about this movie is fantastic, except Kiera Knightly! Everything has to have one flaw ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tired_geek86 at 01:04, 30 July 2006 | Report This Post


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


More user comments

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Review Of The Year: 10 Best Soundtracks Of 2014
The scores and OSTs to add to your playlist

Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Review Of 2014: The 15 Best Cameos Of The Year
Our favourite one-scene movie-stealers

8 Things You Can Learn From The BFI's Star Wars Exhibition
The original crawl, a 'grotesque' villain and a very different princess

Review Of The Year: 40 Worst Posters Of 2014
One-sheets that you'd rather not have on your wall

Hobbit Q&As: Ian McKellen On Finally Saying Goodbye And Farewell To Gandalf The Grey
Read our exclusive Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies interviews

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)