RageReviews’s review published on Letterboxd:
They truly don't make them like this anymore.
I look at this film the way Boomers look at Gone with the Wind or Robin Hood. Old fashioned spectacle, action and romance. Very broad strokes of narrative, much hinging on coincidence and convenience.
But the charm of the actors makes up for it. Anthony Hopkins is the Spanish Obi-Wan, passing the torch to Antonio Banderas, in perhaps his legacy performance. His scenes with Catherine Zeta-Jones are HAWT, amazingly never crossing the line. The love/fencing scene pretty much defines the double-entendres, and it's one of the greatest love scenes ever made. The stuntwork is real, too. Another lost art.
This wouldn't be an old-fashioned swashbuckler without its share of cringe moments. Certain lines of dialogue are too on-the-nose to be sure. The villains aren't all that memorable. But in the end, this is a straightforward nostalgia fest that provided the template for the Pirates franchise (which seem much worse by comparison).