Yar! Pirates! How can a movie with pirates be bad? Especially when they're Zombie Were-Pirates led by the evil Barbossa? It's a fool-proof formula, and throwing Johnny Depp and the delectable Kiera Knightley into the mix only makes things better. From start to finish, 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' is one great old fashioned adventure movie, albeit with a ridiculously long name. We apologise for any and all bad pirate references, but we so rarely get the opportunity.
Directed by Gore Verbinski (The Ring... go figure!?) 'Pirates' is a wonderful piece full of spectactacular scenery, fantastic set design, great action, enjoyable acting, and any other superlatives you wanted to throw at any particular part of the movie. It's just really good.
As 'Pirates' gets underway, we're given a short flashback introduction which sets up some of the plot and characters of the movie. After we flash forward a few years, we're treated to the grand entrance of the notorious pirate Jack Sparrow (Depp). Seems Sparrow's a little down on his luck, and with his ship being a little less than seaworthy, he's stranded on land for the time being.
Jack's true love was his first ship, the dreaded 'Black Pearl'. After a mutiny however, his first mate Barbossa seized control, leaving the hapless Sparrow on a deserted island. Making a legendary escape, Jack's on the lookout for revenge. He soon stumbles across the fetching Ms. Elizabeth Swann (Knightley) - the Governor's daughter, and the blacksmith Will Turner (Bloom) who's determined to win her hand. Soon after, the notorious Black Pearl is spotted and after shelling the town, makes for the open seas with Elizabeth in hand. Turner and Sparrow set off to rescue her (and the ship), and soon begin to uncover the mysterious curse which has settled upon the crew.
The movie's full of of some great visual effects and Verbinski sets up these scenes with some ambitious camerawork. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but straight pure action adventure delivered in a tight professional package. The movie is fun to watch, but Johnny Depp steals the entire show whenever he's on screen. His sexually ambigous Captain Jack Sparrow has all the choice lines, delivered with impeccable timing. There's plenty of comedy to be had, and almost all of it comes from Depp. He manages to turn the most hackeneyed one-liner into what seems to be the sheer epitome of wit. Knightly and Bloom also do very good jobs, and Rush is excellent as the cursed Barbossa. None of them however, can compete with Depp. He's taken an above average action movie and turned it into the years most enjoyable action/adventure/comedy mix. Truly some inpsired casting.
As for the DVD, the video transfer is flawless. As a nice complement, the audio transfer is nothing short of stunning. The treble is crisp yet restrained, and the bass never threatens to overpower the main soundtrack. The balance of dialogue cleanly flows from the center without bleeding over into the ambient speakers, while the front pair delivers wonderfully defined sound effects.
As you'd expect from a release of this magnitude, it's literally awash in special features. There's three (count 'em.. three!) audio commentaries, the best being the depp/verbinski track. There's a lot of excellent commentary, and the track's often very funny to listen to. The other two tracks feature screenwriters, Kiera Knightley, and uberproducer Jerry Bruckheimer. They're pretty well the standard audio commentary.
Of the actual features, 'Below Deck' is the most interesting, as it spends some time examing the history of (Yarr!) pirates in general. In addition, there's an above average 'making of' cut, which shows how the ships were painstakingly modified among other things. The disc also contains two diary featurettes - one chonicling the journey of the Interceptor to the shooting location, and another examing the life of a movie pirate. Which involves surprisingly less booty than you'd imagine. To round it off, there's a load of pointless deleted scenes, and some behind the set pieces, which aren't anything exciting. There's also some other little tidbits kicking around, but they're not really worth a mention. (read: this reviewer decided not to bore himself to death for a volunteer job.)
To sum up, 'Pirates' is a swashbuckling, poop-deck scrubbing, relentless action adventure, with plenty of comedy thrown in for good measure. Depp's excellent performance brings the whole movie to life, and is not to be missed. Chart a course for entertainment gold!! (Yes, that was uncalled for. Still fun to write though.)