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Why is this film good? Two main factors: it re-introduced a long dead genre with style and excitement and Johnny Depp. Who would have thought such a good film could be an adaptation of an amusement park ride?

The story has the cursed crew of the Black Pearl pirate ship, lead by Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, SHINE), out to find the last piece of Coronado’s stolen gold so they can lift the curse that makes them living skeletons. They attack a Caribbean port city looking for the gold piece, which was given to the young blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, LORD OF THE RINGS) when he was a boy and was taken by the Governor’s daughter Elizabeth (Keira Knightly, PHANTOM MENACE, BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM). The pirates kidnap Elizabeth, and Will pressures Commander Norrington (Jack Davenport, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY), the older suitor of Elizabeth, to rush out to save her. Norrington’s lack of speed leads Will to break the pirate Jack Sparrow (Depp, ED WOOD) out of prison to steal a ship and head out after the Black Pearl.

The film is an all out adventure that never lets up. The supernatural twist adds flare to the pirate genre and director Gore Verbinski (THE RING) makes the right decision not to go tough-in-check with the pirate conventions.

Bloom and Knightly play their young lover roles by the book. They are almost forgettable. Rush plays Barbossa with his typical flare, reminding me a little of his performance as the Marquis De Sade in QUILLS. However, it is Depp, who like any good pirate, seals the film. He plays Sparrow perfectly. In a just world, he should get an Oscar nod for best supporting actor. He’s a pirate like you’d think a pirate should be and more. The characterization is totally original. He balances between drag queen, drunk and crazy. It is said that he modeled Sparrow after Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. I want a sequel to this film just to see Jack Sparrow come to life again.

On the sequel note, the film has very promising potential for good follow-ups. There are characters and relationships that are only hinted at in the first film that could be wonderfully expanded on in a second film. I’m sure with the huge first weekend box office this film received we’ll get more PIRATES films. Outside of the HARRY POTTER films, this could be the best new franchise that has come along since TERMINATOR in 1984.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks