We finally snagged The Pirates of the Caribbean DVD and watched the film portion last night - it is exceptional. The casting couldn't have been much better, especially an extravagant, Peter O'Toole-like Johnny Depp as a surprisingly multi-dimensional pirate with a conscience, and Geoffrey Rush as his piratical nemesis and former first mate who marooned him and stole his ship before succumbing to a curse that turned the whole crew into the undead.
Orlando Bloom gets to show impressive emotional range along with the swashbuckling and a finely calibrated moral fiber as the young blacksmith with pirate's blood in his veins who must rescue the firey young hottie Keira Knightley, the governor's daughter. Many lesser parts stand out also and give the story real depth, especially Jack Davenport as Knightly's well-connected suitor, and Bloom's rival, who turns the typical stuffy-British-military-officer-rival-suitor role into a man of honor and feeling.
Most impressive of all is the atmosphere of mystery, excitement, myth, humor, magic, salty air, adventure, rum and the lash that evokes the great pirate epics of yore. Though you'd be hard-pressed to extrapolate out the film's very complex and intelligent plot from the theme park ride of the same name, as a frequent Disneyland visitor in my youth and early adulthood, I got a big kick out of the tableaus from the ride recreated for the film: prisoners trying to lure the dog with the keys to the cell, ships firing broadsides at each other, drunken revelry in the port town, and of course, the theme song.
An extremely entertaining movie with way more going for it than was necessary - I appreciate the extra effort and so did the public it would appear.