Few pictures were more popular in 2003 than this theme-park ride adaptation. While I'm quite willing to believe they've gone one better than the ride, what I watched didn't seem to match up with the popular acclaim.

It's fun, sure - action and sly, witty banter abound, but all at the cost of story. The so-called romantic plot is neither engaging nor, in fact, all that romantic at all. Our well-bred heroine is matched with an unlikable sort, whereas her heart longs for the apprentice blacksmith well underneath her station. The script largely relies on the familiarity of such a scenario to get the point across, and thereby fails to supply anything supporting the motivations of these characters.

As for the depiction of piracy... well, it is a Disney film, but there's something distinctly lacking in it. Pirates have treasure. Pirates attack other ships. Pirates make people walk the plank. Pirates have a... code? The attitude of the film toward piracy is fairly neutral and while you can explain this through sympathies to various characters, there is a certain codependent enabling to the whole thing. While the piracy aspect could have merely been romanticized, it's true nature and consequences have largely been ignored. As there's likely to be a sequel, it will be interesting to see if they continue to deny the pirates the proper application of their chosen profession.

Yes, Johnny Depp does a remarkable performance as the drunk-seeming "good" pirate, Jack Sparrow. And sure, if you surrender to the quick pacing of the film and forego hope for anything deep, then there's enough to keep you entertained. What it comes down to is that there's nothing about the story to recommend it, merely its execution.

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