Classic Intel: Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl

'Depp's now iconic performance as the camp, maniacal, Captain Jack Sparrow is doubtless not to everyone's taste and famously scared the hell out of several Disney executives'

As in 2003, when the Pirates Of The Caribbean series of films first hit screens with The Curse Of The Black Pearl, the success of this opening entry in the current trilogy (soon to be a pentalogy) is largely down to each viewer's reaction to Johnny Depp's helter-skelter take on a pirate. Depp's now iconic performance as the camp, maniacal, Captain Jack Sparrow is doubtless not to everyone's taste and famously scared the hell out of several Disney executives who were shocked by how far the actor had taken the role away from what they had seen on the scripted page.

Depp's performance has remarkably stood the test of time. Sparrow is still eminently watchable, an unflappable, charming and humorous anti-hero who still feels as modern in 2011 as he did towards the start of the decade. Whilst Depp deserves major credit for his interpretation of the pirate, credit must also go to screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio who rarely let a passage pass without a moment of light-hearted humour, recalling the spoof genre without ever going so far as to diminish the more standard action-thriller trappings of the material.

Having said that, there are also moments when Elliott and Rossio descend into the kind of awful swashbuckling swordplay that died a death as Saturday morning serials at some point in the 1970s. An early fight between Sparrow and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) is laced with cliched dialogue which rankles and grates against the slicker elements like a rusty old blade in an otherwise perfect collection. Every so often moments like this creep in and you can't help but wonder how errors such as these made it into a script which oozes polish and care in every other regard.

The only other problems in POTC:TCOTBP are almost completely down to the occasionally charisma-less support from Bloom and Keria Knightley who look flat opposite Depp's whirlwind of personal ticks and character embellishments. Thankfully, more balanced roles for Geoffrey Rush, Jack Davenport, Jonathan Pryce and Kevin McNally even Pirates up nicely and the end result is a tongue-in-cheek actioner with a standout turn from Depp and a quota of humour that just about sees you through the inflated runtime. Recent trailers for the fourth film look distinctly flat and unappealing by contrast but thankfully a revisit of the first film is still ample reminder of how good the franchise has been and, hopefully, will be again.

Look further...

Over at Nathan Adams And The Temple Of Reviews, this was picked out as one of the ten best of 2003. Click here to find out which other films made it.


  1. I have seen so many times this movie that every time when I watch it Jhonny Depp looks super cool. He has performed his character so well that I have never seen such a great performance in any of his other movie.

  2. I like him in SLEEP HOLLOW and BLOW but you're right, this is up there with his very best. It takes a lot of skill to create a comedy role as distinct as this.