Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Director: Gore Verbinski

“This is the day you will always remember as the day you almost caught captain Jack Sparrow…”



The first installment of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean is a fun adventure, albeit reliant on computer-generated-imagery. It is a welcome return to the swashbuckling, high seas adventures of early cinema (think Errol Flynn or Douglas Fairbanks.) It was the first Disney movie to be rated PG-13 and directed by Gore Verbinski, known for directing a few other Disney movies, as well as The Ring. Apparently several actors were considered for the role of Jack Sparrow, including Matthew McConaughey, Jim Carey, Michael Keaton, and Christopher Walken.

The plot is about a cursed pile of Aztec gold, once taken by Hernando Cortes, that allows the crew of a mythically speedy ship called the “Black Pearl” to become undead. It stars Johnny Depp as the Keith Richards-inspired Captain Jack Sparrow as he drunkenly stumbles from scene to scene, from Port Royal Jamaica to the raunchy Caribbean island of Tortuga. It also stars Elizabeth Swann (played by Kiera Knightly), the daughter of the Governor of Port Royal, and Will Turner (played by Orlando Bloom). As a child, Will Turner washes up aboard a Port Royal ship wearing a strange medallion that is taken and kept by Elizabeth Swann. Years later, we discover that Will Turner is the son of the notorious pirate named “Bootstrap Bill” and the “Black Pearl” attacks Port Royal in search of the medallion -the last piece of gold needed to lift their curse. The captain is the former first mate of Jack Sparrow’s mutinous crew, Captain Barbarossa (played by Geoffrey Rush). Jack Sparrow rescues Elizabeth Swann and reclaims his former ship, the Black Pearl, as he narrowly devises a plan to save his life life the curse from his old crew-mates. Between recurring pirate tropes, beautiful Caribbean scenery (some of which were filmed off Manhattan Beach, California), and other amusing themes, like Jack Sparrow walking the plank or being abandoned on a desert island with a single shot pistol, the first Pirates of the Caribbean film is enjoyable.

I did watch the following three Pirates of the Caribbean movies and they were terrible. They are so forgettable that I can hardly summarize the plots. The movies are way too long and become increasingly reliant on nonsensical, complex, and even magical stories. Considering what Disney has done to other popular franchises, like Star Wars, Disney seems to be the company where a successful film series goes to die. With the Pirates series it becomes painfully obvious that the series evolved into a vulgar cash grab for both Disney and Johnny Depp. At least The Curse of the Black Pearl is a fun adventure.

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