A tale of adventure set during the 17th Century in the Caribbean Sea. For the roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow, the crystalline waters of the Caribbean, like the high seas the world over, present a vast playground where adventure and mystery abound. But Jack's idyllic life capsizes after his nemesis, the wily Captain Barbossa, steals his ship, the Black Pearl, and later attacks the town of Port Royal, kidnapping the Governor's beautiful daughter, Elizabeth Swann. Elizabeth's childhood friend, Will Turner, joins forces with Jack to commandeer the fastest ship in the British fleet, the HMS Interceptor, in a gallant attempt to rescue her and recapture the Black Pearl. The duo and their crew are pursued by Elizabeth's betrothed, the debonair, ambitious Commodore Norrington, aboard the HMS dauntless. Unbeknownst to Will, there is a curse that has doomed Barbossa and his crew to live forever as the undead--when exposed to moonlight, they are exposed to living skeletons. The curse they carry can be broken, only if a once-plundered treasure is restored.
This film floats one of the least posed and, therefore, most important cinematic questions of our time: Can a movie maintain the dramatic integrity of a theme-park ride? In the case of Gore Verbinski's film, the answer is sure. Mr. Verbinski's penchant for logistics combined with the producer Jerry Bruckheimer's desire to spend like a drunken pirate when it comes to putting everything onscreen melt into an often frenetic, colorful and entertaining comic adventure. The dazzling, high-flying silliness is quite an achievement: the movie is better than it deserves to be, given its origins. In fact, there's enough storyline for several movies. The wiry and beauteous tomboy Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) owns a medallion that gets the plot going roughly a scant hour into "Pirates." The pirate Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) kidnaps Elizabeth because of the medallion, which turns out to be an enchanted piece of gold that can free Barbossa and his swabbies from their curse. They're the larcenous undead whose skeletons can be seen in the moonlight. But the movie belongs to Johnny Depp as the pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow. Gargling his consonants before spitting them out, Mr. Depp suggests a man who has spent either a great deal of time with Keith Richards after a tour of the Rebel Yell factory, or a man who has spent a great deal of time watching Mike Myers do his Keith Richards impression. — Elvis Mitchell
2003-07-09 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl