Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by:Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Pryce
Released: September 11, 2003
Grade: B+

Johnny Depp on Pirates Of The Caribbean – “I have no idea how or why it was received so well by so many people.  I was and still am very, very shocked.”  I believe the film’s success can be attributed to Depp himself, and to a lesser extent, the other quality cast members.  Depp always searches for original characters and pirate Jack Sparrow is right up there.  When asked specifically, Depp went on the record as saying his inspiration was The Rolling Stone’s lead guitarist, Keith Richards.  There’s never been a pirate quite like him.

The success that Depp referred to cannot be ignored.  Pirate movies have often tanked at the box-office.  Have you seen Cutthroat Island?  I didn’t think so.  On top of this, the film was inspired by a theme park ride of the same name at Disneyland.  This fact didn’t fill me with confidence.  Doubters have been left stunned by the amazing box-office success.  Outgrossing The Matrix: Reloaded, Pirates is the second biggest film of the year (behind Finding Nemo) and firmly placed in the top 20 of all time in the United States.  There’s always one film which comes from the woodwork each summer and this is it for 2003.

Jack Sparrow (Depp) is an eccentric pirate looking for a new boat to pillage and plunder.  He previously controlled a ship known as The Black Pearl but he was overthrown in a mutiny by the greedy Barbossa (Rush) and left for dead.  The local authorities then catch Sparrow stealing a docked ship and imprison him in a jail cell.  Not before he engages in a swashbuckling duel with petty blacksmith Will Turner (Bloom).

Turner is in love with the governor’s daughter, Elizabeth Swann (Knightly), and he will soon be given the chance to prove this when she is kidnapped by the pirates of The Black Pearl.  Reluctantly, Will strikes a deal with Sparrow and springs him from jail with promises he will take him to The Black Pearl to rescue his “bonnie lass”.  Sparrow is more than happy as he too has unfinished business with Barbossa…

Johnny Depp really is wonderful and it’s fun to watch his character continually switch from good guy to bad guy.  Orlando Bloom is at an important stage of his career as he tries to build on his Lord Of The Rings publicity.  He actually very good as is love interest Keira Knightley who you should remember from Bend It Like Beckham.  Australian Geoffrey Rush is the weakest of the foursome but not disgraced by any means.

There’s a bunch of fun special effects and some nice, if not a little lame, jokes.  You may see it as a long stretch at 143 minutes but in contrast to the many other action releases this year, there is enough action and adventure to maintain one’s attention and go the distance.  There’s talk of a sequel (how could there not be) but I say that without Johnny Depp’s signature you can forget all about it.