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Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003)

Prepare to be blown out of the water

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 143 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

Ooh-aar me laddies, shiver me rum, and a bottle of timbers. Aren’t pirates fantastic? They steal, plunder, pillage, burn other people’s property and have entire body parts made completely of wood.

You’ll find all of those requisite generic components and more in this sea-faring swash-buckling yo-ho-ho-fest. Talking parrots? Check. Walking the plank? Check. Lots of work flung in the direction of the Buxom Wenches Talent Agency? Check. That bloke who plays Gareth in ‘The Office’? Check. Keel-hauling? Well, to be honest I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’m pretty sure it’s probably included in here somewhere.

Ah, but what’s it all about, me hearties? Well, there’s this crew of cut-throats sailing aboard an infamous vessel known as ‘The Black Pearl’. Not only are they a right bunch of beardy scallywags, but they’re made doubly-scary by a nasty curse, the effects of which are only visible by moonlight. Anyway, in order to rid themselves of said curse, they need to get their hands on an ancient medallion which lies in the hands of the beautiful toff Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). So she gets kidnapped by the dirty scurvy-dodging swabs and local blacksmith Will (Orlando Bloom) sets off in hot pursuit, for no reason other than he fancies the pants off her. And who wouldn’t?

The real star of the show, though, is Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. More Adam Ant than Blackbeard, he’s played as a cross between Depp’s Raoul Duke character from ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’ and Keith Richards. A mascara-eyed dandy, he switches sides with ease and is handed almost full responsibility for the movie’s moments of comic relief. In fact, he also single-handedly prevents the two-hour-plus running time from dragging on into the realms of tedium.

There’s lots to be enjoyed and, while never in much danger of becoming viewed as a classic, this is one of the summer’s better releases.

It's Got: Marauding skeletons that probably aren’t for the kiddies.

It Needs: To be a bit shorter.


Swashbuckling good fun.