Who's in It:
Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Bill Nighy, Geoffrey Rush, Jonathan Pryce, Tom Hollander, Jack Davenport, Naomie Harris, Chow Yun-Fat
The Basics: Briefly (while there's nothing brief about anything in this movie, I'll give it a go all the same), Lord Cutler Beckett has control of Davy Jones' heart, which sounds sort of gay when you're just reading about it, but it's not the heart's in a box. And because he's got the heart, that means he's going to rule the seas. But see, all the pirates and their friends call on all the other pirates around the world to battle it out against the dark forces of uncool un-pirate-ness. And they do this by sailing off the literal edge of the world's map. I think.
What's the Deal? I just said, "I think," because it's very long, with a hundred characters and lots of plot, and most of the pirates, while speaking, actually sound exactly like "Arrrrrrrhh!!" so you're sort of just waiting for action to speak more clearly than words truth be told. It does, eventually, and it does so in a way that's been designed to deliver maximum sensory blast. It's loud, the effects are cool, there are multiple Jack Sparrows and great Fish People, as well as a fantastic finale battle that'll simultaneously confuse and thrill you. As far as meaningless summer entertainments go, it does exactly what you want it to.
Best Part: Keith Richards' cameo, obviously. The movie doesn't truly start until Richards pops in for a visit as Depp's dad. Here's how it goes, more or less:
Depp: [something in English; I forget what specifically, but discernable as normal speech]
Richards: [garble, slur, mush, suppressed belch]
It's the best, most inscrutable performance of 2007. And all he did was stand there. And when I use the word "stand," what I really mean is that I read somewhere that they had to help prop him up so they could get that to happen. It's like watching a human being and a special effect at the same time.
Biggest Surprise/Least Big Surprise: To start with the latter, Bloom really needs to step up his game if he's ever going to be as memorable in any other film role as he was as an elf in the Lord of the Rings series. It's like he's taking blandness lessons from Tom Cruise. Meanwhile, Knightley comes off as downright tough and Pirate Queen-ish throughout, but that perception could just be the residual effects of my mainlining Pride and Prejudice over and over. I realize I just impugned my own masculinity with that last sentence (and so what?).
Extra Points For: Funny pirate monkey. Monkeys will never let you down.