Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie review

Yo, ho, whoa - this movie's actually good

Published July 14, 2003

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Rating: PG-13 for action/adventure violence

Summary: Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is a pretentious pirate who once sailed the high seas as captain of the notorious Black Pearl. But his ship is stolen by Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who eventually ambushes the city of Port Royal (where, coincidentally, Jack has washed up to commandeer a new ship). The governor's daughter, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) is captured by Barbossa's men. They believe she has the power to undo an ancient curse that has plagued pirates for ages (it leaves them in an eternal "undead" state) because of an Aztec gold coin in her possession. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), a swordsmith, friend and secret admirer of Elizabeth, reluctantly teams up with Sparrow to recover the girl and the ship.

My view: You have to be skeptical of a film based on a theme park ride. Several of the scenes appear as we've seen them at Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride. This film far surpassed all of my expectations, and its overall quality was a pleasant surprise. Most scenes were filled with physical and sarcastic humor. The casting was extraordinary, right down to Barbossa's monkey cohort and the dog in the jail scenes. Depp did an amazing job creating a new kind of pirate, coming up with an off-center, yet shrewd character. He totally looked the part; it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role. The supporting cast flawlessly captured the spirit of their roles. The swashbuckling battle scenes were thrilling and well-choreographed. The musical score propelled the action along, effortlessly exploding from a whisper to a full-blown roar capped off with the clanging of swords and the firing of cannons. This film is the epitome of big-screen entertainment. Sorry, Sinbad, you're sunk!

Recommendation: Don't write this movie off because it's based on a theme-park attraction. It will captivate you for 133 minutes. The film has a PG-13 rating because of violence, and some of the images could cause nightmares for younger viewers. For everyone else, this treasure chest is full of gold.

Grade: A

- Billy Norris, 15, will be in the 10th grade at Seminole High School, and is a former member of the Times' X-Team.

[Last modified July 11, 2003, 13:38:40]

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