The words ‘A Jerry Bruckheimer Movie’ are usually enough to strike fear into the discerning film fan’s heart. As producer of films such as Pearl Harbor, Armageddon and Top Gun, he’s been responsible for some of the most soulless, cynical pap inflicted upon audiences.
Which makes it all the more surprising that his latest offering Pirates Of The Caribbean is one of the most enjoyable blockbusters to be released for many a year. Helped in no small part by a fantastic cast and a cracking script, this is swashbuckling escapism at its finest.
The plot revolves around the cursed ghost crew of a pirate ship, The Black Pearl. The crew are looking for a mysterious pendant which will lift their curse and turn them into humans again. The said pendant hangs around the neck of the rather lovely Kiera Knightley and when she’s kidnapped by the gang it’s up to her unrequited love Orlando Bloom and rogue pirate Johnny Depp to rescue her.
Depp is wonderfully over the top as Captain Jack Sparrow and he completely dominates the film. He’s long been the best character actor of his generation and his performance here is on a par with his portrayal of Ed Wood. Apparently based on Keith Richards, Depp’s Sparrow is charismatic, likeable and never falls into self-parody.
Elsewhere, Orlando Bloom (looking unrecognisible from his role as Legolas in Lord Of The Rings) can be a bit wooden at times, but he makes for a fine straight man to Depp. He even throws in an apparently ad-libbed impression of Sparrow for good measure. Knightley has the talent to go with her stunning looks and delivers a spunky performance that will cement her role as the ‘next big thing’. Geoffrey Rush meanwhile is obviously having a ball, chewing the scenery as the captain of the ghost ship.
As well as Bloom and Knightley, Pirates boasts some fine British talent including Jack Davenport playing the repressed Englishman to perfection and Mackenzie “Gareth from The Office” Crook. The latter is particulary funny as the one-eyed pirate ghost (together with a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ homage to Minority Report).
Director Gore Verbinski has directed some pretty average movies in the past (The Mexican, The Ring) but his inventive visual style is matched here by a script from Shrek writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. The film never takes itself too seriously and the story is so fast paced that its two and a half hour running time never seems to drag.
Pirates Of The Caribbean is based upon a ride in Disney World, but thankfully it’s not a cheesy cross-marketing gimmick. In what has been a disappointing summer for film fans, this is that old clich, ‘fun for all the family’. With action, adventure, romance and humour, Pirates is the finest blockbuster of the year.