Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ★★★

"There'll be no living with her after this."

At a brazen 2 1/2 hours the SHREK and ALADDIN perpetrators Elliott & Rossio have concocted patient zero for the current Orci/Kurtzman structure disease (not to mention the corporate synergy manifesto in which we find ourselves mired, right down to the post-credits stinger). To be fair, they're marginally better writers; this is consistently funny and inventive. But it's still a series of colorful sketches of (again, relatively indelible) characters whose bloated arcs trump actual narrative momentum, mistaking a stifling attempt at complexity for both intelligence and story. And remember when Depp pulling an act like this was a surprise? Why go back to something like ED WOOD when Disney's paying for your private island? It's a good thing this is so gorgeous. It's an early analog/digital hybrid technical marvel, even if it did enable Verbinski's tendencies toward hectic, elaborate overdetermination along with his incredible eye. Orlando Bloom is just awful in it.