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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

  Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio
Starring: Lee Arenberg, Orlando Bloom, Mackenzie Crook, Jack Davenport, Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Pryce, Geoffrey Rush
Links: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 7.50 (4 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 81st of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of About Schmidt (2002).

"Plenty of yo-ho-ho, but too much yo-ho-hum." - a review by mino

As you can see below, there's some dissent in the nofreelist ranks as to how good, exactly, Pirates of the Caribbean is. pearly is rather glowing, in which she seems to agree with both those who have commented on these reviews and the movie-going public at large. andy-j is a little more circumspect, but still positive; em_fiction is frankly a little disparaging, but still goes above 5 which is the sign of an average movie. Well, in this case: sorry pearly, but I have to side with the others. Pirates is a very entertaining film; but it ain't, as they say, all that.

Pirates is a fun, if ultimately unsatisfying, movie. It's a rollicking pirate tale, which is good value, but it just seems kind of try-hard to me. I for one found Geoffrey Rush to be a little too camp (though he does camp very well, I'll admit), and Keira Knightley makes for one of the more unengaging romantic leads I think I've seen in a while (though eyestrain-inducing she ain't). I know it's supposed to be over-the-top and kitsch: I just felt that, at times, it took being over-the-top and larger-than-life as a kind of easy way out, becoming overly in-your-face just to avoid the writers having to come up with more gags. The love story is weak (possibly due to Knightley) and the action sequences, while good fun, are sometimes just too silly (and certainly too drawn-out).

However, as all my other reviewers have pointed out, there's one thing Pirates has going for it: and that thing's name is Depp — Johnny Depp. Depp is an absolutely perfect lead, and his dizzying (if oddly-accented) performance alone is worth the price of admission — that's if you'd paid to see it, which I didn't, of course. Depp cavorts around the screen having an absolute ball, and he has just the right amount of flair to be a perfectly charming swashbuckling hero (that amount, of course, being 37 pieces).

There are some good lines, but I found them rather more few and far between than I thought they would be; the physical comedy falls flat in parts (it often does, I find) but is probably much better than average. There is a great supporting cast (The Office's Mackenzie Crook is good fun as a kind of Caribbean Gregory, but Lee Arenberg is even better as his Sampson).

The film is way overlong — parts of it draaaaag terribly — but the bursts of action reach quite the frenzy and are good fun. It's a switch-the-brain-off popcorn flick, but to be fair sometimes that's just what you need. It's not brilliant, sure — but of the Disney theme-park-ride-based movies, it's a damn sight better than The Haunted Mansion (2003), that's for sure. That has to count for something.

mino gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 14 Sep 2004

"The curse of a very overrated pearl" - a review by em_fiction

There are some highly rated films that you don't like but can understand why they're so praised and highly regarded, and there are other highly rated films that you just simply cannot deduce, regardless of how many viewings, as to how the fuck they can possibly be praised so much. Pirates of the Caribbean is a dear example of the latter.

You're probably well-aware of how the plot goes, so I won't bother with it. Let me get things straight: it wasn't a terrible film, I did like a bit. Captain Jack Sparrow walking off his sinking ship onto the dock was probably the highlight of the film for me. I mean, I had a decent laugh and was entertained every now and then, but that's all it was: entertainment. It currently sits at #206 in the IMDb Top 250. Two-hundred-and-sixth greatest film of all time? Are these people out of their minds? It's a decent contender for a Friday night popcorn flick, but the mere fact that it's in the Top 250 is utterly insane.

It's fun and entertaining, but there's nothing original about it. These days, adventure films pretty much grow on trees in Hollywood. Take The Mummy (1999) for instance. If I judge it in terms of entertainment, it's a great film; visual, suspenseful, funny, great actors and full of excitement. How does Pirates differ from it in any way? It lacks just as much depth, the humour isn't much more better and for God's sake, it was based on a Disney theme park ride. I don't think it could be any more obvious that this film was never meant for such glowing reviews. The producers are probably looking at it thinking "Shit, we got more than we asked for. We were just hoping it wouldn't bomb." Look at The Movie Show: David makes a good statement, but Margaret is simply out of her mind (but then again, she did give 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) 4 and a 1/2 stars. Hopefully moving to the ABC will knock a bit more sense into her.)

Despite the fact that I seem really surprised at how overrated this film is, I do actually know why it's so damn popular. Two words: Johnny Depp. About 99% of the reason this film is so loved is because of Johnny Depp, and I can fully understand that. I'm not annoyed that the film is popular because of him, I'm annoyed at the fact that it took this very mediocre popcorn flick for fans to go nuts over this great actor. He was fantastic in this, there's no doubting that, but like he hasn't been fantastic before. Maybe it was because most of his past films were good so he sort of blended in while this film was generally mediocre and that made him stand out. Maybe, maybe not.

Why don't I see Edward Scissorhands (1990), What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) in the Top 250? Depp's great in all of those films, and more. I'm not saying they should be in the Top 250, I'm just saying that this film can't be saved by Depp. It's seriously not that great. Depp makes it seem good. It's like an optical illusion. You know that one with the two lines that are the same length, but when arrows are added to both lines, they appear to be different lengths? Johnny Depp is the arrows.

Okay, so like I said at the start, it's not a terrible film. I enjoyed most of it, but I just couldn't understand how it can exceed so many other adventure films of equal calibre. Another common complaint flying around over the film is that it is too long, and I couln't agree more. It is far, far too long. This isn't a historical holocaust film based on World War II, it's a tongue-in-cheek pirate film based on a theme park ride. Two and a half hours isn't necessary, and yes, the film could've easily have been truncated to a much more bearable runtime.

If Johnny Depp weren't in this, I would've given it about a 4. But he was, and he saved it from being a waste of time. Geoffrey Rush is a real menace, Orlando Bloom is a little rat and Keira Knightley is hot, but that's about it. Gore Verbinski's a great director, but I thought The Ring (2002) and The Mexican (2001) were much better films. Don't get the wrong idea, Pirates is a decent film — just don't fall for the hype (yeah, I know; that's the third time I've said that).

em_fiction gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Sun 25 Apr 2004

"Here's Johnny!" - a review by andy-j

OK, let's see... umm.... how am I gonna put this?

Pirates of the Caribbean wasn't quite as good as I would have hoped.

I know, I'm risking the considerable wrath of all the Johnny Depp and/or Orlando Bloom fans who have signed their names below (including Mrs Vanessa Depp and Johnny's Close Personal Friend), but please, hear me out first. Everyone constantly talks about how TOTALLY AWESOME PotC is and how I HAVE to see it. They express considerable dismay and disbelief when I tell them I haven't seen it, and urge me to watch it because it's My Type of Movie. The film itself is a huge success at the box office. Even pearly loves it and gives it a 9, which just never happens when Nicole sees an action movie. So it's fair to say that, for me, there is considerable buzz around PotC. I'm expecting that when I watch it I'll be totally blown away by the sheer awesominity of this film.

So I finally sit down and watch it, and what do I get? Well, Pirates of the Caribbean is really just a children's movie. Look, it's a lot of fun, it doesn't take itself seriously, and the Whole Family Can Enjoy It because it's really not gonna scare the beJesus out of the kids. But the whole plot is rather paper-thin and it seems to be a bit padded out at times. It's really very kiddy-friendly, with a rather uncomplicated plot, not-too-scary pirates (though this gives them great charm and allows for some giggles) and a very predictable love story.

FORTUNATELY Pirates of the Caribbean was absolutely wonderfully cast. Johnny Depp absolutely steals the show. He just goes to town with his character and adds a whole extra dimension of fun to it. Just stop for a second and imagine what it would be like if someone like Brendan Fraser had been cast as Captain Jack Sparrow. Wouldn't it just SUCK?!? Wouldn't it just be the STUPIDEST MOVIE EVER? Imagine if they got Ben Affleck... or Josh Hartnett or some other chump... Nup... Johnny Depp makes this movie. He makes his character fun, charismatic, hilarious, way over-the-top. The entire cast is brilliant, in fact. Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley — they all rock. The cast totally make this movie.

Look, don't get me wrong, I really rather like PotC. I just wasn't blown away like I expected I was gonna be. I think Pirates of the Caribbean is pretty much spot-on in terms of being fun and not taking itself too seriously. It's very well made and wonderfully acted. It just needs... I dunno... a bit more... plot? a few surprises maybe? I dunno.. a better love-story? There's just not a lot plot-wise to make me come back. But then I think... Johnny Depp! JOHNNY DEPP! How can I NOT just love this movie?

andy-j gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 7 Apr 2004

"Settle yerselves in fer quite a tale, me hearties" - a review by pearly

"Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me."

Sometimes, there are films that you see the trailer for, and you think "hmmm, that looks cool, I believe I will go and see that at some point", and then you just kinda don't get around to it. And then, one day, you realise there's nothing on the TV, and you're really bored, so you say to someone nearby (perhaps a partner, or just a friend, or maybe it's someone you're keen on, but you haven't had the guts to tell them... actually, it could even be someone you don't really like that much) "hey, wanna go out and have sushi for tea, and then go see Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl?" (except you don't actually say that, because you can't be bothered calling it by its full title, so instead, you just call it Pirates of the Carribean). And the other person says "yeah, why not?", and that's what you do.

And, when something similar to that happens, and you're not expecting to have the best night of your life, but the movie turns out to be supremely awesome, it gives you a contented feeling in your tummy.

Pirates of the Carribean is the perfect film for a relaxed night out. The cast could not be better suited to their roles, and it's just so much fun, fun, FUN!

Whilst travelling from England to a new life, young Elizabeth Swann (grown-up version played by Keira Knightley) spots a boy in the ocean, his ship a victim of a pirate attack. He is hauled aboard and Elizabeth and he (he being Will Turner (Orlando Bloom)) end up growing up in the same town. Elizabeth develops a fascination for pirates, and Will develops a fascination for Elizabeth.

One fine day, lone pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) turns up, closely followed by the legendary ship, the Black Pearl, carrying a gang of cursed pirates. Elizabeth and Will become entwined in the pirate's adventures as they attempt to recover all the pieces of Aztec gold which was the cause of their curse.

Depp is the absolute stand-out of this movie. He takes the role of outcast pirate Sparrow and runs away to join the circus with it. He looks amazing, and every mannerism and word coming out of his mouth is appropriate. Put him up against Geoffrey Rush, who plays the captain of the Black Pearl, Barbossa (and who is always, always wonderful), and you have a great thing. Add a healthy dose of Bloom (back in rugged, non-elf style, with brown hair and all) and a smattering of Knightley (stunning), and you have a winning combination.

The supporting roles don't disappoint either. You've got Jonathan Pryce as Elizabeth's father on the side of all that's good and decent, and you've got Mackenzie Crook (better known as Gareth from The Office) on the side of parrots and pillaging. Crook in particular is hilarious, with his wooden eye and off-the-cuff comments.

Aside from these great people on screen having a ball with their characters, the visuals are wonderful (Depp's get-up alone is enough eye-candy for half the film, and for the remainder, you have the open seas and the ships), and the score will have you in shanty mode for the rest of the week.

Pirates of the Carribean is good time fun in a way that films like The Mummy (1999) tried (but failed) to be. When a two and a half hour movie seems to be over in a snap, and you realise you've spent that whole time grinning moronally, you can safely say that you've enjoyed the movie greatly.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 31 Oct 2003

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 4
Average rating: 7.50
Lowest rating: 6 (by em_fiction)
Highest rating: 9 (by pearly)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments


    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Jenea on Thu 20 Nov 2003 06:51 #

  2. hoi

    leuke site zeg!!!

    A comment from bla on Wed 03 Dec 2003 03:02 #

  3. Very good movie!

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Darkhorse on Fri 05 Dec 2003 01:36 #

  4. Awesome movie! Johnny Depp is SOOOOO freakin' hot! Love you baby!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Anj on Wed 24 Dec 2003 07:29 #

  5. I'm really glad you guys enjoy my bf's movie(s), he is a wonderful actor. (I'll tell him what all of you said).

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Vanessa on Wed 24 Dec 2003 07:32 #


    Rating given: 10

    A comment from SaNdRa on Mon 19 Jan 2004 07:06 #

  7. pirates of the carribean is the best film ever i must have seen it 20 times and i'm not lying its the best

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from carla mcmaster on Thu 22 Jan 2004 03:05 #

  8. I love POTC I saw it sooo many timez! Orlando Bloom is hott! OMG I love him! Johnny Depp isnt that bad either! But Orli is still mine!!!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Nonya on Fri 30 Jan 2004 09:10 #

  9. This movie was one of the best movies I've seen so far! I LOVE Orlando Bloom, he is so hot, so u all can forget it, he's MINE!!!!! Johnny Depp is also hot, at least for a 40-year-old dude. I definately give this movie a 10!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Jen on Fri 30 Jan 2004 09:14 #

  10. Johnny Depp is way cuter than Orlando. All you all only wish Johnny is one of your closes friends unlike me he is my personal friend. Johnny Depp is so cute but he is 40-years-old.He is still cuter than Orlando though. I have watched POTC more than 50 times no lie.John John is sooo cute isn't he.I give POTC 10 DUH!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Emily on Sun 08 Feb 2004 12:20 #

  11. its just freakin awesome

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Kristen on Wed 11 Feb 2004 11:46 #

  12. Johnny Depp is the best actor I've ever seen. he's soooo hot.....oh & did I mention he's hot?

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from miss hsv on Mon 15 Mar 2004 16:14 #

  13. Gr8 movie!!! i agree, without Johnny it would be nowhere as good!! my fave movie at the moment!! Mackenzie Crook is awesome 2! (Ragetti) i'd give it an 11 BUT i cant....

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Mia on Sun 05 Sep 2004 16:31 #

  14. i love this movie! but its not as good as willy wonka! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from samantha on Sat 05 Mar 2005 12:01 #

  15. I love all of you who said you love johnny depp he is soooooooo awesome i love him so much he is the best actor ever and no one is better or hotter to bad he is 40 something or he would be mine. He rules I love him and i love this movie it is my fav. movie and johnny did great. I give it a 10 if i could i would give is a million but i can't that stinks.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from melissa on Wed 31 Aug 2005 11:05 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.79 (14 ratings)

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