Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

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

Has my vote as one of most satisfying and entertaining pieces of popcorn entertainment from the last few decades. Everything, and I mean everything, is impeccably executed. The cast is marvelous. The beautiful Keira Knightley (only 17 when this was shot) is a perfect leading lady, Depp's iconic creation of Jack Sparrow carries the movie, Bloom's principled pretty boy Will Turner is a hilarious counter to Depp, and an astonishingly good host of side characters fulfill their roles perfectly. I could praise everything else; the set design, costuming, direction, special effects, script and score endlessly, but it'll have to suffice to merely say that the cooperative world-building is impeccable. In the best way, The Curse of the Black Pearl feels like the ride that inspired it. Richly detailed, blissfully escapist and consistently compelling, I'll never understand how Verbinski and crew were able to maintain that for this entire two and a half hour movie. But despite the aggressive plotting, this thing never runs out of gas. Through all the shifting character allegiances, evolving identities and various twists and turns along the way, you never lose sight of what's happening. It's a blockbuster equipped with a rare clarity and confidence, a total masterpiece that feels driven by a singularly creative and adventurous spirit.

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