Someone over at Disney had a really bad idea: making movies based on Disneyland's more popular rides. If someone had presented this idea to me I would have told them they were nuts. What a cheesy, stupid idea. I know everyone loves Pirates of the Caribbean the Ride, and everyone would be sure to be disappointed by whatever lame movie got based on its "premise".
And, I would have been wrong. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was actually lots of fun and very subtle at times. The plot made me think a bit and held together tightly. The actors were all convincing, and Johnny Depp was magnetic; I couldn't take my eyes off him; in a very heterosexual sort of way, mind you. Keira Knightley is beautiful, and I'm probably going marry her; her face is incredibly expressive, and I could hardly take my eyes off her, either. I want to marry an English girl with good teeth, and hope my kids grow up with cute little English accents.
The costumes and scenery were immersive, and the CGI that was used for the skeleton pirates was masterfully done. There were wenches, piles of gold, walkings of planks, deserted islands, piles of gold, cannons, swordfights, parrots, monkeys, freaking skeleton pirates, and piles of gold everywhere. The dialogue and background provided enough allusions to the ride to keep me alert, but not so many that it came off as cheesy or pandering (unlike references in the recent Star Wars movies to the earlier trilogy).
The plot was a little twisty, and it worked really well. There were a few moments where the characters seemed to be taken aback by the stereotypes they were playing out, but there wasn't any slapstick or campiness to distract from the piratey atmosphere.
One surprise came early on, before the movie even started: a preview for The Haunted Mansion, apparently based on the ride by the same name. On the severe downside, it stars Eddie Murphy, who hasn't made a decent movie since... since... hold on, I'll think of one... uh... ok, 1988. The preview was amusing, but I think the movie's going to be pure slappity-slap-slap. Oh well. Maybe I'll be wrong again.