Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2003. Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Story by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert, Screenplay by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio. Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Music by Klaus Badelt. Production Design by Brian Morris. Costume Design by Penny Rose. Film Editing by Stephen E. Rivkin, Arthur Schmidt, Craig Wood. Academy Awards 2003. Golden Globe Awards 2003. Washington Film Critics Awards 2003.
A young woman (Keira Knightley) grows up in British-controlled Jamaica hoping for all the things that “modern” women in period movies long for: a marriage to someone with integrity (i.e. he’s not as rich as her but doesn’t mind), lots of crazy adventure and the chance to reject nasty men. She gets all this and more when undead pirates show up in Port Royal and kidnap her in hopes of retrieving a gold medallion she has held on to since childhood. Now, her true love (Orlando Bloom), a poor blacksmith who doesn’t compare to the rich Commodore who plans on marrying her, must sail after the Black Pearl upon which she has been kidnapped, and save her. To do so, he teams up with a perpetually drunk, shipless pirate (Johnny Depp) who was once the Black Pearl’s captain and knows where she is headed. Geoffrey Rush also gets some scene-stealing moments as the cursed pirate ship’s mutinous captain, though all the fun in this bloated mess comes from Depp’s curiously weird Keith Richards imitation; it just figures that this anti-movie-star movie star would take a lead in a Hollywood action movie and turn it into a character role. Bloom and Knighley aren’t as successful, giving boring performances in an even more boring rehash of the Titanic romance, his resemblance to Errol Flynn in thirties swashbucklers providing very little compensation. The many adventures should make it feel richer but instead it just comes off as a bunch of stupid scenarios strung together by a group of concept writers; what else could you possibly expect from a movie based on an amusement park ride? It is sometimes fun and young people might find themselves getting something out of it, but everyone else is advised to either check their brain at the door or simply stay the hell out: dead men tell no tales, and neither do studio executives with far too much money to play around with and no credible writers in sight.