This summer's hidden treasure lies buried beneath such disappointing blockbusters as "The Hulk" and "Terminator 3."
"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" is one summer classic that will not soon be forgotten.
The movie, based on a four-decade old amusement park ride, first smelled of the classic Disney marketing ploy: sucker hordes of families into the cinema with a brand name, take their cash and deliver a mediocre product. Wasn't that the case with "Country Bears," also based on a ride at Disneyland?
But "Pirates" brings something fresh to the table.
From the opening scene, you see a little girl singing the infamous and quite eerie "Yo Ho" pirate song. Once you're enticed into the genre of swashbuckling, it never lets go.
There are some references to the park ride like a trio of prisoners trying to coax a pooch with keys in its mouth closer to their jail cell. The film's PG-13 rating, which was a first for Disney, allows few scenes of blood-spilling but still seems violent. Some scenes involve brilliant sword fighting in dazzling moonlight, erasing the flesh of the cursed crew and revealing their rotting bones.
Throughout the film, Johnny Depp (playing Captain Jack Sparrow) showcases his acting prowess playing a punch-drunk pirate who lives by the seat of his pants and suffers from a permanent heat-stroke. Distressed maiden Elizabeth (Keira Knightley of "Bend it like Beckham") is captured by the crew of the infamous Black Pearl.
The crew, cursed by an act of thievery involving the treasure of Cortez, sails endlessly, plundering every port that stands between them and one single gold coin belonging to Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). Young Will is the only son of the ex-captain of the pirate ship and carries with him the secret of lifting the curse.
The script is written well and is quite witty and animated most of the time. Director Gore Verbinski ("Mouse Hunt" and "The Ring") has truly done a fine job with the 135-minute movie that rarely feels like it runs over two hours.

Grade: A-