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

Ten years ago we were reintroduced to the world of pirates as they fought and sailed in the exotic islands in the Caribbean Sea.

Inspired by the classic Disney boat ride Pirates of the Caribbean, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl takes viewers back to the 1600s when piracy reigned supreme throughout the Caribbean.  Here you’ll find fierce and menacing pirates who attack ships and nearly sack a city.  You’ll also find a secret horde of hidden treasure.  And in this epic film you’ll also find a little bit of the supernatural involving a cursed treasure and pirates who cannot be killed.

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

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was directed by Gore Verbinski, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and given an awesome soundtrack by composer Klaus Badelt.  The film stars Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Geoffrey Rush as the menacing Captain Hector Barbossa, Orlando Bloom as Will Turner, and Keira Knightley as the governor’s daughter Elizabeth Swann.  Supporting them are Jack Davenport as Commodore James Norrington, Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs, Jonathan Pryce as Governor Weatherby Swann, and Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook as Pintel and Ragetti, two of the pirates on the Black Pearl.

Take the stereotypes that you know and love about pirates, and combine all of that and more into an action-packed, adventurous thrill ride.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Elizabeth takes the mysterious coin that Will wore on a necklace.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl begins with Weatherby Swann (Jonathan Pryce) the newly appointed governor of Port Royal, sailing there with his twelve-year-old daughter Elizabeth Swann.  Their ship is under the command of Lieutenant James Norrington (Jack Davenport) of the Royal Navy.  Young Elizabeth is standing near the bow and singing a song about pirates (“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me . . .”) when one of the crew members, Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally), stops her from singing, claiming that it’s a curse to do so.  He also claims that having a woman on board a ship is also a curse.

Their ship is sailing through a fog bank when Elizabeth spots a young boy unconscious in the water and floating on a wooden piece of debris.  Norrington has him taken on board the ship as the rest of the crew members search for other survivors.  As they’re wondering how the boy was left in the water, they spot the remains of his ship.  That ship is a burning, floating wreck.  The question is why would a merchant ship be destroyed in an explosion that killed all but one occupants?

Mr. Gibbs claims that it was a pirate attack, but Norrington and Governor Swann reject the idea.  Some of the ship’s crew use row boats to search for more survivors while Elizabeth tends to the unconscious boy.  He suddenly awakens and says that his name is Will Turner.  Will passes out again, and when he’s asleep Elizabeth notices an unusual coin hanging from Will’s necklace.  She secretly takes the mysterious coin and keeps it.  While examining the coin, Elizabeth spies a mysterious ship with black sails suddenly appearing in the fog.  As the black ship is sailing away and disappearing once again, the girl is shocked when she sees it flying a pirate flag.

Fast forward eight years.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Elizabeth greets Will in her father's mansion.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) is a blacksmith apprentice and a skilled sword maker.  He delivers a brand new sword to Governor Swann as a gift for Norrington’s upcoming promotion to the rank of commodore.  Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) descends the stairs and greets Will.  It’s clear that Elizabeth and Will still know each other from their childhood days, and it’s also apparent that Will is in awe of Elizabeth’s beauty and charm.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Captain Jack Sparrow arrives at Port Royal.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

That same day a pirate named Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) sails into Port Royal on a tiny ship.  He’s a cunning man who shares respect for his fellow pirates.  His ship is taking on water and the pirate calmly rides the sinking vessel all the way to the pier, stepping onto the wooden dock just as the rest of the ship slips underwater.  A harbor master wants Jack to state his name, but the pirate bribes him to remain anonymous.  He then heads into town on an unknown mission.

There’s a ceremony at a nearby fortress as James Norrington is promoted to the rank of commodore in the Royal Navy.  Outside the fortress, Jack Sparrow tries to sneak his way onto a Royal Navy ship.  Two soldiers try to stop him, but the wily pirate captain talks about the ships and the discussion turns to an infamous pirate ship named the Black Pearl.  We learn that it’s a black ship with black sails and manned by a crew of undead pirates and a pirate captain so evil that it’s claimed that Hell itself rejected the pirate.  As the two guards are discussing the Black Pearl and weather or not it really exists, Sparrow sneaks onto one of the Royal Navy ships moored at the pier.  The guards find and stop him, but instead of arresting the man, Sparrow uses his wits to keep the men talking and distracted from his true intentions.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - The coin is more powerful than it appears.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

After the rank advancement ceremony, Commodore Norrington takes Elizabeth Swann aside and tries to propose to the young woman.  She’s a bit startled by his proposal, but it’s her tight corset that causes her to pass out and fall into the ocean.  Jack Sparrow sees her fall, and since neither of the Royal Navy guards is willing to swim and save her, he dives into the water himself.  As the unconscious Elizabeth sinks in the water, we see that she’s wearing the mysterious coin that she took from Will Turner eight years ago.  As the coin is in the water it’s activated by a mysterious force, sending a miniature shock wave across the waves.  The wind suddenly shifts and dark clouds begin rolling into the area.

Jack Sparrow pulls Elizabeth from the water and removes her corset, allowing her to breathe again.  She comes back to life as Commodore Norrington arrive with more soldiers.  As he thanks Sparrow for rescuing his future fiancée, Norrington notices that Sparrow’s arms have been branded for that of a pirate.  He instructs his men to capture and take Sparrow to jail to await his trial.  Instead, Jack grabs Elizabeth and uses her as a hostage.  He has Norrington hand back his hat and weapons, and then he makes a daring escape from the British soldiers.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Will Turner and Jack Sparrow cross swords and battle in the blacksmith shop.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

After fleeing the docks, Jack Sparrow slips into a blacksmith shop and frees himself of his handcuffs.  He’s about to leave when Will Turner arrives and notices the pirate.  Will tries to stop Jack, and the two of them fight each other with swords and trade insults in the process.  Jack cheats and gains an upper hand, but the blacksmith, who was drunk and asleep the whole time, awakens and knocks out the pirate.  Norrington’s men arrive and arrest the unconscious pirate.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - A trusted dog holds the keys to the jail cell.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

In a classic joke scene from the Disney boat ride, we see Jack Sparrow sitting in prison while other prisoners try to call over a trusty dog holding the keys to the jail cells.  One of them whistles to the dog, another tries to tempt the dog with a bone, while another pirate tries to use a rope to get the dog’s attention.  But the dog is too smart for the pirates, and he stays just out of arm’s reach.

That night the Black Pearl sails into the Port Royal harbor and fires upon the town.  There’s chaos and a massive street battle as pirates from the Pearl run around and fight everybody who stands in their way.  Several pirates break into the governor’s mansion and ultimately capture Elizabeth Swann.  She doesn’t know why she was singled out by the pirates, but she demands parley, a right to speak unharmed with her opposers.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - The curse against the Black Pearl's crew is true.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Two of the Pearl‘s pirates break into the prison mistaking it for the fortress’s armory.  They’re somewhat amused though when they discover Jack Sparrow, their former captain, sitting in jail.  We learn that Sparrow was marooned on an island after his crew mutinied.  As one of the pirates reaches through the jail cell and grabs Jack Sparrow, we see that in the light of the moon, the pirate’s arm is actually decayed and mostly bone.  This confirms the fact to Sparrow that there really is a curse upon the Black Pearl‘s crew.

On board the Black Pearl, Elizabeth Swann meets with Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and introduces herself as Elizabeth Turner, one of the maids in the governor’s mansion.  She learns that the pirates desperately want the gold coin that hangs on her necklace.  She uses this as leverage and negotiates with Barbossa for the ending of hostilities against Port Royal along with her safe return.  Barbossa agrees to stop the attack, but he keeps Elizabeth Swann as his prisoner.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Will Turner tries to convince Commodore Norrington into using Jack Sparrow in their rescue plan.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The next morning, Will Turner tries to persuade Commodore Norrington into making a deal with Jack Sparrow and having him lead them to the Black Pearl.  Norrington wants nothing to do with the pirate captain, and he leads Elizabeth’s rescue mission his own way.

Will Turner is in love with Elizabeth and isn’t satisfied with Commodore Norrington’s response.  He goes to the jail and makes a deal himself with Jack Sparrow, setting him free is he agrees to help take him to the Black Pearl.  Sparrow wants his ship back, so he agrees to help Will.  Will uses leverage to break open the jail cell and free the pirate captain.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Jack Sparrow is counting on Commodore Norrington to try to capture them.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The two of them use an upside down row boat to walk along the floor of Port Royal’s harbor and sneak their way onto the HMS Dauntless.  They do so and commandeer it, making the skeleton crew leave the vessel.  Jack and Will try to make sail when Norrington learns about the act of piracy and sets to capture them himself.  He takes his ship, the HMS Interceptor, and sails along side the Dauntless, and tries to capture Sparrow and Turner.

When Commodore and his men climb onto the Dauntless, Sparrow and Turner slip onto the now unmanned Interceptor.  They cut the lines and sail away with Sparrow thanking the commodore for “giving” them such a great ship.  Furious, Commodore Norrington wants enough sail on the Dauntless so they can maneuver and fire upon the Interceptor.  They don’t have the speed to catch her, so the commodore would rather have the best ship in the Royal Navy at the bottom of the ocean rather in the hands of a pirate.  Unfortunately, the rudder on the Dauntless was disabled by Sparrow, and Commodore Norrington is powerless to stop Sparrow and Turner from sailing away in the Interceptor.

Before they can sail to the Black Pearl, the Interceptor is going to need a crew of experienced sailors.  They head to the pirate island of Tortuga, and while sailing there, Will Turner tells Jack Sparrow a little bit about his family.  He doesn’t know much about his father though as he hadn’t seen him since he was a child.  It turns out that Will Turner’s father, William Turner or Bootstraps Bill as most of the crew knew him, was once a member of Jack Sparrow’s crew.  Sparrow doesn’t say much about him but remembers William Turner as being a good man.  William Turner, Jr., is forced to accept the fact that his father was a pirate and not a merchant sailor as he originally believed.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Jack Sparrow recruits Mr. Gibbs to serve as a member of his crew.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

They arrive in the tough pirate town of Tortuga and begin recruiting a crew starting with Jack Sparrow’s old friend, Mr. Gibbs.  Mr. Gibbs isn’t thrilled to learn that Sparrow is going after the Black Pearl, but he agrees when learning that Sparrow wants to use Will Turner, Bootstraps Bill’s son, as leverage against Captain Barbossa.  At this point we’re still uncertain why exactly Will Turner can be used as leverage against Barbossa.

The next morning the rest of Jack Sparrow’s crew is assembled on the pier and preparing to board the ship.  One of the crew members is Cotton (David Bailie), a mute pirate who had his tongue removed by pirates.  The parrot that sits on Cotton’s shoulder can say a few phrases and speaks on behalf of Cotton.  The last pirate in line is Anamaria (Zoe Saldana), a female pirate still upset with Jack Sparrow from a previous encounter when he stole her ship.  She agrees to sail with Sparrow after Will Turner offers her the Interceptor at the end of their mission.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Captain Barbossa explains the curse of the Aztec gold to prisoner Elizabeth Swann.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

On the Black Pearl, prisoner Elizabeth Swann is offered to have dinner with Captain Barbossa.  She wonders if Barbossa is trying to poison her, but the pirate captain reveals that doing so wouldn’t help them in the end.  Barbossa reveals that the gold coin she was wearing is really Aztec gold.  It’s one of 882 pieces of gold that once belonged to the legendary conqueror Felix Cortes.  A terrible curse was placed upon the Aztec gold treasure, and anybody who stole from the chest was to be punished for an eternity.  Elizabeth doesn’t believe in the curse, and Barbossa goes on telling her about how he and his crew didn’t believe it either until they realized that they were in fact cursed men, doomed to live a wretched life.

The only way to repay the curse is to restore all of the stolen coins along with blood from those who stole from the chest.  When Elizabeth learns that they intend on killing her when repaying her blood debt, she stabs Barbossa in the chest with a knife.  The knife attack cannot kill him and she flees onto the deck of the Black Pearl.  Elizabeth is horrified when seeing that the entire crew is made of grotesque dead people.  The light from the moon shows the pirate crew in their true undead form.  “You best start believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner.  You’re in one!

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - The Interceptor braves a massive storm while sailing to Isla de Muerta.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Across the sea, Jack Sparrow is piloting the Interceptor through a ferocious storm while navigating the ship to Isla de Muerta, the secret hangout for the Black Pearl.  To guide them there he uses a special compass that, instead of pointing north, it shows the direction to the secret lair.

The Black Pearl arrives first at Isla de Muerta.  The pirates take great joy in rowing Elizabeth Swann to the secret caves so that, after ten years of agony and torment, they can finally lift the dreaded curse from the stolen Aztec gold treasure.

The Interceptor is hot on the Pearl‘s heels and also arrives at the dreaded port.  The crew is on edge as they pass through a bank of fog and past a countless number of wrecked ships.  It’s there that Mr. Gibbs tells Will Turner more about the history and legend of Captain Jack Sparrow.  Mr. Gibbs informs him that Jack used to captain the Black Pearl, and after getting into a discussion about equal shares of the treasure with the ship’s first mate, Barbossa, there’s a mutiny and Jack was marooned on a remote island.  He then explains that when pirates a marooned they’re given a pistol with only one shot.  That shot is there so that the pirate can commit suicide after slowly suffering from hunger and dehydration on the deserted island.  But Jack Sparrow was able to escape from the island and he still carries that pistol with the single shot with him today.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Barbossa tries to use Elizabeth to break the curse from the stolen Aztec gold.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Inside the caves, Captain Barbossa and his men take Elizabeth to the chest of Aztec gold.  Jack Sparrow and Will Turner have also sneaked their way into the caves, and they watch as Barbossa rallies his crew before returning the final piece of stolen Aztec gold to its original chest.  Barbossa slices open Elizabeth’s hand and drops the coin with her blood into the chest.

But nothing happens.

Barbossa shoots a member of his crew and they realize that they’re still cursed men.  While they’re arguing about what to do next, Elizabeth slips away and she’s rescued by Will Turner.  The pirate crew threatens to mutiny against Barbossa, but he holds them back.  He discovers that Elizabeth is missing and the pirates search the caves for the woman.  Instead of finding Elizabeth, the pirates discover Jack Sparrow and are shocked that he’s still alive.  Sparrow requests parlay and is taken to Barbossa.  Jack is about to be executed when he revels that he knows why Elizabeth’s blood didn’t work to cure the curse.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Will learns the truth about his gold coin.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Meanwhile, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann escape back to the Interceptor, and keeping to the pirate’s code, they sail away without Jack Sparrow.  While tending to Elizabeth’s hand wound on board the Interceptor, Will inquires about why Elizabeth told Barbossa that her last name was Turner instead of Swann.  He notices that she is wearing the Aztec coin necklace and she reveals that it’s always belonged to him.  Will said that his father sent him the coin a long time ago, and he thought that he lost it the day that Elizabeth’s ship rescued him eight years ago.  She claimed that she took the coin to protect young Will from being branded a pirate.  Will then realizes that his father, Bootstrap Bill, really is a pirate, and it’s his father’s blood, his blood now, that’s needed to lift the curse from the stolen Aztec gold.

On the Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow attempts to negotiate Captain Barbossa out of command of the ship.  He wants to exchange Will Turner and his blood to lift the curse for the Pearl.  Naturally, Barbossa rejects Sparrow’s offer and goes after Will Turner and the Interceptor himself.  Jack Sparrow is locked in the ship’s brig.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - The Interceptor tries to outmaneuver the Black Pearl.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The Interceptor lightens its weight and tries to flee, but the Black Pearl is just too fast of a ship.  Instead of giving up they try to attack the pirate ship.  The Interceptor drops an anchor, which snags an underwater rock and spins around the ship, positioning them for a quick attack against the Black Pearl.  The two ships exchange gunfire before the pirates swarm onto the Interceptor and continue the battle.  Will Turner is below the deck and trying to get the coin when falling debris traps him down there.  Barbossa’s pet monkey (also named Jack), steals the gold coin and takes it back to Barbossa on the Black Pearl.  The rest of the Interceptor‘s crew is taken onto the Pearl and tied against the mast.  They watch in horror as the pirates detonate explosives inside of the Interceptor, destroying and sinking the ship with, presumably, Will Turner still on board.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Will Turner negotiates with Captain Barbossa.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Will Turner is not dead.  He escaped the Interceptor just prior to its explosion, and the pirates are impressed when he climbs on board the Black Pearl.  Will holds a pistol against Captain Barbossa and tries to get the upper hand, but the captain reminds Will that he only has one shot and they cannot die.  So Will holds the pistol against his own head and threatens to kill himself.  He tells Barbossa that he is the son of Bootstrap Bill and that he has the same blood as his father.  If he kills himself, then the pirates will be cursed for eternity.  He bargains Barbossa and trades himself for the release of Elizabeth and that his crew not be harmed.  Captain Barbossa accepts his terms.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann are marooned on a desolate island.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Since Will Turner didn’t specify any of his terms, Captain Barbossa releases Elizabeth Swann by marooning her and Jack Sparrow on the same island where Sparrow was marooned years ago.  Elizabeth is made to walk the plank into the water.  Sparrow asks for more ammunition before being marooned (so he can shoot them both if need be), but Barbossa refuses and only gives him back his pistol with the single shot.  If worse comes to worse, Sparrow can only shoot Elizabeth and put her out of her misery and not them both.

On the island, Elizabeth begins pestering Jack Sparrow and trying to get him to help her get off the island.  After all, legend says that he was able to master sea serpents and use them as a raft to sail to safety.  He’s the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow, after all.  Jack is forced to tell his secret about how he really got off the island.  He reveals a secret underground cache of rum that was used by rum runners.  He actually spent three days lying on a beach drinking rum until the runners arrived and he bartered passage off the island.  Elizabeth is horrified that Jack’s legendary escape is nothing more than a tale of luck and alcohol.

They spend the evening drinking rum, though Elizabeth is only pretending to drink the alcohol.  In the morning Jack wakes and discovers the horror that all of the rum is burning in a massive bonfire.  Elizabeth burned it all and some of the foliage as well, creating a tremendous plume of smoke stretching a thousand feet into the sky.  With Commodore Norrington and the Royal Navy still searching the waters for her, the smoke signal is bound to be quickly spotted by the passing ships.

Sure enough, Elizabeth and Jack are rescued by the Royal Navy.  Governor Swann is with Commodore Norrington on board the HMS Dauntless.  The governor is insisting that they return Miss Swann back to the safety of the governor’s mansion.  Jack Sparrow tries to convince Norrington to go after the Black Pearl while she’s still weakened, therefore removing the “last real pirate threat in the Caribbean.”  The commodore is not convinced until Elizabeth pleads with him, accepting his marriage proposal if he helps save Will Turner.  Jack Sparrow is given the assignment of directing the Dauntless to Isla de Muerta.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Pintel tells Will Turner about his father, Bootstrap Bill.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Meanwhile, the Black Pearl is enroute to Isla de Muerta.  Will Turner is held in the ship’s brig along with the rest of the crew from the Interceptor.  While in the brig Will speaks with Pintel and Ragetti and learns more about his father.  He learns that Bootstrap Bill was not part of Barbossa’s mutiny against Captain Jack Sparrow, nor did he agree with marooning Jack Sparrow on the island.  He protested by sending his son one of the stolen Aztec coins, knowing that without the last coin the pirates would have no chance of reversing the curse.  That action greatly upset Captain Barbossa, and the captain had Bootstrap Bill tied to a cannon and tossed into the depths of the ocean.  It was after that point that the crew realized that they needed Bootstrap Bill’s blood along with the stolen coin to reverse the dreaded curse.

The Dauntless arrives at Isla de Muerta and spots the Black Pearl lying at anchor.  The ship appears to be deserted as most of the pirates have returned to the caves to participate in the ceremony to end their curse.  Jack Sparrow convinces Commodore Norrington to keep his men on the Dauntless and set an ambush for the pirates.  He claims that he’ll convince Barbossa to send his men out to attack the Dauntless, and the crew of the Dauntless can use their cannon to destroy the row boats full of pirates.  Commodore Norrington accepts this plan along with the idea of keeping Elizabeth Swann locked in the commodore’s cabin for her own safety.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - The curse reversal ceremony is interrupted again.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The pirates have Will Turner at the Aztec chest, and Captain Barbossa prepares to slit Will’s throat when Jack Sparrow appears and, once again, surprises the pirate crew by showing up alive and well.  Jack stops the execution and negotiates with Barbossa with a plan to attack Norrington’s men.  He convinces Barbossa to keep his men in their cursed status and to attack the HMS Dauntless, which happens to be sitting right outside of their secret lair.  He’ll then have two ships under his command with Barbossa himself taking command of the Dauntless and letting Sparrow become captain again of the Black Pearl.  Sparrow would also pay Barbossa a percentage of everything his crew plundered.  While talking, Sparrow grabs a handful of Aztec coins and drops them one by one to make a point, but Will Turner sees Sparrow secretly pocket the last gold coin.  He emphasizes the part about waiting until the opportune moment before lifting the curse, sending both Captain Barbossa and Will Turner a message.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - The cursed pirates make an underwater march to the HMS Dauntless.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Captain Barbossa agrees to Jack Sparrow’s plan, but instead of sending his men out in boats, the men march underwater and make a surprise attack upon the Dauntless.  Two of the pirates, Pintel and Ragetti, dress as women and distract the few sailors on the Dauntless while the other pirates secretly climb onto the ship and begin their attack.  Norrington’s men, out in long boats and against Sparrow’s advice, hear the sounds of battle and begin rowing back to the Dauntless to fight the pirates.

Elizabeth Swann escapes from one of the windows in the commodore’s cabin, and she uses a sheet rope to climb down to a row boat.  She rows to the Black Pearl, sneaks on board the ship, and manages to free the crew held prisoner in the brig.  They fight and take back the Pearl and, sticking with the pirate’s code, the sail away from Isla de Muerta.  Elizabeth is angered by their actions and rows herself to the caves to help free Will Turner.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Since he also stole from the Aztec chest, Jack Sparrow is now a cursed pirate.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

In the caves, Jack Sparrow surprises Barbossa and begins fighting his former first mate with a massive sword fight.  Will Turner is freed and joins in the fight.  At one point Barbossa stabs Sparrow in the chest, but he doesn’t die.  Jack steps back into moonlight and reveals that he’s also a cursed pirate as he too stole a gold coin from the Aztec chest.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Jack Sparrow shoots and kills the now-mortal Captain Barbossa.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Despite the fact that neither of them can be killed, Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa resume their sword fight.  Elizabeth appears in the cave and helps Will fight the cursed pirates.  As Barbossa raises a pistol and prepares to shoot Elizabeth, Jack fires his pistol and shoots Barbossa right in the chest.  At first Barbossa is surprised that Jack wasted his shot, but then it’s revealed that Barbossa is bleeding from the gunshot.  We see Will dropping the last two gold coins, complete with the blood from him and Jack Sparrow, into the Aztec chest.

That act reverses the curse.  The pirates are now mortal.  Captain Barbossa dies and one of the pirates on the Dauntless also dies.  The rest of them see the act and decide to surrender.  The Royal Navy triumphantly regains control of the HMS Dauntless.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Jack Sparrow is condemned to die at a public hanging.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The HMS Dauntless returns to Port Royal and despite his heroics, Captain Jack Sparrow is still condemned to die by hanging.  Will Turner, wearing a disguise, interrupts the execution and saves Jack’s life on the gallows.  The two of them fight the guards and attempt to escape before they’re both captured at the edge of the fort.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Elizabeth proclaims her love to Will.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Commodore Norrington and Governor Swann are both appalled by Will Turner’s actions.  Will defends himself by claiming that Jack Sparrow is a good man and doesn’t deserve to die.  If so, then Will himself will also demand to be executed.  Elizabeth joins him and pledges her allegiance to Will.  Norrington takes that as a sign that she doesn’t really love or want to marry himself, and he allows her to leave.  Jack uses this distraction to make his escape.  He jumps into the water and swims to the Black Pearl which happens to be just off shore.  Norrington grants Will a pardon and begins planning his pursuit of Jack Sparrow.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl ends with the crew pulling Jack Sparrow on board the ship and making him their captain.  He checks his compass, plots a course, and sails away singing “A Pirate’s Life for Me”.

So is this first Pirates of the Caribbean film a good movie?

Good?  No, this is a GREAT film filled with fantastic action, great adventure, a forbidden treasure, and some spooky paranormal scenes.  Take nearly everything you love about pirate folklore and add in an awesome soundtrack and some really impressive action scenes.

It’s interesting is that in this pirate film, instead of seeking revenge, buried treasure, or just to wreck havoc, these pirates are instead seeking to reverse a curse.  This helps peek the viewers’ curiosity and provides a mysterious aura to the pirates, giving them a bigger sense of dread and deadliness in addition to a fantastic back story.

The only problem is that unless you’re great at paying attention and hearing all the details, you’re going to need to watch the film a couple of times to understand everything.  That’s not really a negative aspect as this is really a fun film, but if you want to understand all the action (this is really important with the sequels), then you’re going to have to pay close attention to everything.  Considering the accents and the dialogue, this can be difficult at times.

POTC:COTBP was a big budget film from the beginning.  When you sit back and watch the movie, it’s clear that this is a high quality piece of work from the beginning.  The scenery and locations are great, the visuals are impressive, and the film has a really good cast.  Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush really shine in their roles as Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa.

The legacy of the Pirates of the Caribbean films extends into the Disney theme parks around the world.  The first Pirates film was based in part on the classic “Pirates of the Caribbean” boat ride that opened in 1967 in Disneyland and 1973 in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  The boat ride was given an extensive refurbishment in 2006 and added lifelike Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa Audio-Animatronic characters into a few scenes.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – movie trailer

If you love pirates, ships, sword fights, and plenty of action and adventure, then you cannot go wrong with Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.  This is the first film in a series of Pirates of the Caribbean films starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.

four-and-a-half stars

Norrington – “You are without doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of.”
Jack Sparrow – “But you have heard of me.”
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Jack Sparrow – “You seem somewhat familiar. Have I threatened you before?”
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Jack Sparrow – [looking at all the swords] “Who makes all these?”
Will Turner – “I do. And I practice with them three hours a day.”
Jack Sparrow – “You need to find yourself a girl, mate. Or perhaps the reason you practice three hours a day is that you already found one, and are otherwise incapable of wooing said strumpet. You’re not a eunuch are you?”
Will Turner – “I practice three hours a day, so when I meet a pirate, I can kill it.”
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Jack Sparrow – “Take what ye can!”
Mr. Gibbs – “Give nothin’ back!”
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Mr. Cotton’s parrot – “Dead men tell no tales…”
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Will Turner – “That’s not true. I am not obsessed with treasure.”
Jack Sparrow – “Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.”
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Elizabeth – “So that’s it, then? That’s the secret, grand adventure of the infamous Jack Sparrow. You spent three days lying on a beach drinking rum.”
Jack Sparrow – “Welcome to the Caribbean, love.”
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Barbossa – “You’re off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters.”
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Will Turner – “Where’s Elizabeth?”
Jack Sparrow – “She’s safe, just like I promised. She’s all set to marry Norrington, just like she promised. And you get to die for her, just like you promised. So we’re all men of our word really… except for, of course, Elizabeth, who is in fact, a woman.”

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