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Yo-ho-ho and a Bottle of Fun!, The Trinidad Guardian, August 8, 2003
typed by Becky Greenleaf

Move over blondes, Terminators and Hulks. Make way for the sizzling swashbucklers whose comical sage makes for serious fun. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley shine in Pirates.

The most stimulating movies of the summer thus far have been documentaries: Spellbound and Capturing the Friedmans. Finally, there’s a big-budget popcorn movie that delivers what moviegoers hunger for: humour, action, thrills and charismatic characters. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl is the summer blockbuster we’ve been waiting for. From the haunting opening sequence with a little girl eerily singing the infamous “Yo Ho” song, Pirates grabs audiences and doesn’t let go. And it stars two screen hunks: Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp, who looks sexy despite the gold teeth and matted hair.

Depp’s dissipated Captain Jack Sparrow is the offbeat centerpiece of the movie. He lives on his wits, though he has spent a tad too much time on the high seas with the sun beating down on him. Sparrow comes sailing to the villages of Port Royal, run by Gov. Swann (Jonathan Pryce), who’s determined to see his lovely daughter Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) married off the to the influential Commodore Norrington (Jack Davenport). However, Elizabeth has long had eyes for blacksmith Will Turner (Bloom), who shares her unexpressed devotion.

The town’s calm is shattered when the pirate crew from the creepy Black Pearl, manned by the evil Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), invades in search of a lost gold medallion. The barbarous buccaneers kidnap Elizabeth (who has the medallion) and plan to sacrifice her. While the stuffy Norrington sails off to her rescue, Turner joins forces with Sparrow, who has hijacked the fastest ship around. Together, they uncover the mystery behind the Black Pearl.

Who would have guessed after last year’s dismal Country Bears that a second movie based on a Disney them park ride could be rip-roaring fun? And as if the Disney ride stigma weren’t challenge enough, pirate movies have been notorious failures in recent years. (Remember Cutthroat Island?) Pirates’ director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer expertly navigated the rough waters to avoid the genre’s pitfalls: overblown action sequences, unbelievable characters, dated sagas. Their efforts, and those of screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio (who also wrote Shrek) strike just the right tone. The dazzling visuals (ghostly skeletons brawl in the moonlight aboard a haunted galleon) and spectacular swordsmanship blend seamlessly with comic moments.

This kind of movie works best if it doesn’t take itself too seriously (think Indiana Jones), and Pirates has some great moments of humorous self-deprecation.

Pirates will enthrall kids and amuse adults. Its only failing is that at 2 hours and 15 minutes, it’s about 20 minutes too long. But Pirates is still boatloads of fun.

(PG-13 for action/adventure violence)