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Johnny Depp
Orlando Bloom
Keira Knightley
Geoffrey Rush.
Gore Verbinski.
Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio.
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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

I did this because my english prof. made me :)

I really liked how the actors made the characters come alive and make me wish i lived in that era. The director did an amazing job with balancing romance, comedy, etc. I'd probably compare this movie with Indiana Jones because it's such a thriller and you never know what to expect next ... More

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Posted by suzyminx at 19:56, 15 January 2015 | Report This Post

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

Fun, Enjoyable, Silly and 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

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


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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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

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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

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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


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

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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

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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

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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

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

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