Planks, plunder and Captain Depp 

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl (PG-13)
Buena Vista/Disney

Ahoy ye fans of air conditioning and summer movies! By now ye have heard of the box office triumph of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. But 'tis it a diversion from baking in the Colorado sun?

Pull up yer barstool and permit a film pirate to regale ye with tales of high sea swashbuckling as interpreted by Captain Gore Verbinski (director) and first mate Jerry Bruckheimer (producer).

Pirates of the Caribbean is based on a Disney World ride so I can say without fibbing that it's the best roller coaster-based film ever. It's also as tiresome as a day of scraping barnacles off the S.S. Minnow.

It's the tale of one Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) whose Saint-Tropez tan and triptych beard has him looking like the lost lovechild of Marilyn Manson and Osama bin Laden. He's chock-full of piss and vinegar, a bad-boy pirate charm combined with a Keystone Kops physical panache that, with the air conditioning, nearly justifies the forfeiture of your hard-earned shillings.

It's a convoluted plot to be sure. Captain Jack has washed up upon a colonial port searching to commandeer a new ship. Meanwhile interclass drama brews between the governor's daughter Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), and the strapping sword-happy blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, that bow-happy elf of Lord of the Rings fame). The two have been smitten since a young Elizabeth rescued Will from the wreckage of a pirate ship. It was there she stole a talisman from his neck, not knowing it was part of the cursed booty of Cortez's gold.

As the damned British class system would have it, Elizabeth is betrothed to the governor's second in command (Jack Davenport) who's only too happy to remind brazen Will to stick to his place.

While Captain Jack gets into trouble around town, the infamous Black Pearl, a pirate ship crewed exclusively by the undead and helmed by the infamous Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) makes a pillage port call.

The cannons fly, and peasants and redcoats run scattershot through the cobblestone streets while Will flexes his fencing skills with the invaders. In the fracas, Elizabeth is captured by a couple of skanky-teethed pirates under the assumption that with the return of her medallion, Cortez's curse will be lifted. But as any good curse would have it, this requires a blood donation.

While the colonial powers prevaricate, Will frees an imprisoned Captain Jack in exchange for his help in the rescue of his "bonnie lass." It's the start of Turner's journey to come to terms with his inner pirate as he learns that his father was such a man.

We also discover that Barbossa orchestrated the mutiny of Captain Jack when he helmed the Black Pearl. The plot is full of such double-crossing and overdue payback that an organizational chart would be in order. At 133 minutes Pirates of the Caribbean is like a roller coaster ride that needs to stop before the kid in front of you barfs his cotton candy in your general direction.

Luckily, Jerry Bruckheimer was able to convince Depp that he was not rich and famous enough to forego this film. His performance adds enough wit and fun to what might otherwise be a most disenchanting ride.

Alas, while ye landlubbers find some summertime distraction, I'll be a returnin' to regaling the comely lasses of Red Lobster with me tales of high sea adventure. Have I told ye 'bout the time I was French-kissed by a king crab? Aye, better wait 'til the next pirate movie. Yarghh!

-- John Dicker


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