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

pirates of the caribbean the curse of the black pearl poster review
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Johnny Depp, great looking

Gets long winded at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl

Studio:  Walt Disney Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s):  June 28, 2003 (Premiere)/July 9, 2003 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

pirates of the caribbean the curse of the black pearl will turner vs jack sparrow orlando bloom johnny depp

A pirate’s life for me?

A boy named Will Turner is found floating among the wreckage of a sinking ship in the Caribbean and is saved by a passing ship containing Elizabeth Swann.  Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) grows up wondering about his past and not knowing that Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) is hiding a medallion she discovered on him as a child.  When Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) arrives at Port Royal, he accidentally activates the medallion…summoning Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and his legendary ship the Black Pearl.  Barbossa and his crew have been cursed and the medallion is the only thing keeping them from resting in peace…and nothing will keep them from it.  With Elizabeth kidnapped, Jack Sparrow and Will Turner must go to her rescue while pursued by Commodore James Norrington (Jack Davenport) but the cursed pirates of the Black Pearl will not be easily taken.

pirates of the caribbean the curse of the black pearl jack sparrow dog with keys

The ride become a movie

Directed by Gore Verbinski, Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl was an action-adventure film based on the long running Pirates of the Caribbean ride which originated at  Disneyland in 1967.  The movie became a surprise hit with critics and fans and earned Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (Depp), Best Makeup, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects at the 76th Academy Awards.

I loved the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World and have a certain soft spot for pirates and pirate tales.  I never really wanted to be a pirate, but the idea of the open ocean and swashbuckling has some appealing aspects.  When I learned that the movie was being made I was rather surprised, but then found some hope in the fact that Johnny Depp was involved along with The Ring director Gore Verbinski…it turned into a rather fun movie.

pirates of the caribbean the curse of the black pearl captain barbossa elizabeth keira knightley geoffrey rush

Arrrgh…I see sequels in our future

The story of Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl is both the movie’s blessing and its curse.  While the movie is character driven, the plot often meanders.  I like some of the script’s wordplay and twists and turns, but it often falls into long sequences of who-has-whom prisoner…the final sequence of the story just has the characters going from ship to ship over and over again.

The movie is really saved by the cast.  Johnny Depp finally got a lot of recognition for this role despite the fact that movie producers accused him of threatening to ruin the film during its making.  Depp’s crazy portrayal of Jack Sparrow is the most entertaining aspect of the film (and the series), but in this film, it works with the script as well (he stated he based it on Keith Richards who later played his father in the series).  Both Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley really came into their own in the films.  Bloom was already making waves in The Lord of the Rings films, but gets more solo play in this movie and Keira Knightley also got more international attention after her big turn in Bend It like Beckham.  Geoffrey Rush was seen as “slumming it” in the movie since he already had his Academy Award for Shine, but obviously knew that the movie had hit potential.

pirates of the caribbean the curse of the black pearl jack sparrow zombie ghost johnny depp

Women love my good looks

The movie looked fantastic.  Gore’s style from The Ring did translate into the movie and scenes where the ghost crew are seen in the moonlight (exposing them as skeletons) are great.  It also was able to incorporate famous scenes from the ride like the dog who is holding the keys to escape…something that was a fun throw-in for fans of the ride.

Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl is probably the best of the series but has faults of its own.  The second film in the series is more closely tied to the third film since this movie wasn’t a surefire hit when it was released.  The movie however did succeed and had everyone singing “A Pirate’s Life for Me” again.  Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl is followed by Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Man’s Chest in 2006.

Related Links:

Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Pirates of the Caribbean:  At World’s End (2007)

Pirates of the Caribbean:  On Stranger Tides (2011)

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Video Game

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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