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


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Satisfying, but lengthy.

When it comes to Pirates of the Caribbean, I know I’ve always been a fan and blindly accepted each of the films as outrageously delicious. I never really stopped to think about a few things that the film should have actually done, and once I’ve actually done that, I realize that it’s not as great as I thought. Still a heart-pounding and exciting film, but now I realize that…it can be better. Still though, no matter what, Johnny Depp’s portrayal as Captain Jack Sparrow and the musical score will never be forgotten.

Just as Elizabeth Swann is proposed to by Commander Norrington, she is kidnapped by a bunch of filthy pirates because she had in her possession a medallion made of Aztec gold. This medallion was the key to their freedom, because without it, they are cursed to feel nothing, walk the earth as skeletons under the moonlight, and live forever – never feeling the joys of life. To save her, blacksmith Will Turner enlists the help of a pirate, Jack Sparrow, to find her and save her before her life is taken.

There is a lot to love about this film, fellas, there’s no denying that…but here’s what I’ve come to realize: it had improper focus. Johnny Depp is truly brilliant as Jack Sparrow, and Disney knew that. They knew it so well that they made it seem like Sparrow is the main character and he’s not. The main character is Will. The way you can tell who the main character is, is what the film is about. The film was about saving Elizabeth, which was Will’s plan, and the film is clearly a semi-romance…so it really is about him, not Jack. Because they tried to tell the audience that this was Jack’s film, I’m being serious here, you might have trouble explain what the movie was about.

You’ll be stuck going character to character trying to figure out what the movie’s plot was. Each character has a goal. Will wants to save Elizabeth. Elizabeth wants to be freed. Captain Jack wants revenge for having the Black Pearl stolen from him. The crew of the Black Pearl want the curse to stop. The rest of the British government just want to hang pirates. When asked about the movie, you might be inclined to say, “That’s the one with the skeleton pirates”, but not much more than that…that’s not a plot, guys. For the most part, the film’s hero really was Will, it was his story from beginning to end. He was the little boy mysteriously washed ashore, he had the medallion, it was him that trained three hours a day at the blacksmith, and who secretly loved the “princess” of the story. It’s totally his story, but the popularity of Jack Sparrow is alarmingly loud, drowning out the real story.

As for the rest of the film? I’m a bit confused as to why the pirates’ goal isn’t shared by literally everyone. They get that medallion and stop the curse…and everyone’s happy. You can kill them if you want, if you don’t, they’ll probably give up pirating and live a happy life, no more fighting. Just give them the dang thing and let it be over with. I had a hard time understanding why they continually kept the medallion from the pirates…kind of feels light fueling a fire to me. Maybe if the film was shorter, that would have made a little more sense…but the movie is two and a half hours long…and you start to think about these things.

Anyway, the movie is still really good. The action is intense, the look of the film is dark and mystical, the skeleton crew on the legendary Black Pearl are haunting, the characters are loveable, even if you love-to-hate them, and the music is absolutely incredible. Whether or not the logic of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is believable or not, you can still have a blast and a half watching it, and the rewatchability factor is still relatively high. It’s not a movie I’d recommend missing.

8 thoughts on “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

  1. Good review, though I will contend this one belongs to both Jack and Will. Neither are the exclusive protagonist – they support each other. Why? Because there is another way to identify the main character in a work of fiction. You ask yourself two questions. 1. Who changed? And 2. Who is doing stuff that makes the story move forward? Will certainly changes more than Jack, but Jack isn’t precisely the same character at the end of this picture that he was in the beginning. Both of them change, which means both are in the running for main character. The second question can also be answered with both names. Throughout the first 2/3 of the movie, Jack (and the antagonist pirates) drive all of the action. In the last third, Will starts to drive it more.

    (Also, in answer to your second question: self-preservation. Give the pirates the medallion and they no longer need you. So they kill you. On the spot. Least that was the impression I remember having.)

    All those arguments stated, though, I mostly agree. I’d give this a strong B, too. The pacing can get a bit laborious, and Will isn’t nearly as well developed as Jack. Given that they’re co-leads, it’s a problem.


    1. Well aren’t you fierce? Haha. I get your drift, but it’s pretty clear that the promotion was all for Jack, he’s the biggest face on all the posters, the trailers are over-driven with his presence…so it would be reasonable to miss the plot. I asked my brother yesterday – who is the main character and what is the plot. He said – Jack is, and the plot is about the pirates trying to stop the curse. That’s only part of the plot, and more of a character goal, the antagonist goal. I said it’s about Will, and he said not at all.

      Remember the promotion for Alice and Wonderland? Remember how it was all Johnny Depp too? It’s Alice in Wonderland, not the Mad Hatter in Wonderland. Just saying, lol


      1. 😉

        Alice in Wonderland – the point is entirely accurate. The Mad Hatter is certainly not a protagonist there. Barely qualifies as a tertiary character, really.

        And I agree that Pirates was marketed as being more about Jack than Will. But that’s marketing, not the actual story arc of the flick. I’m just in the story, I think both characters are equally important.


      2. Ok, I’ll agree with you there, but marketing plays a part on your psyche. Also, the movie itself plays up a lot of Jack, he’s the one that stands out above the rest while Will looks relatively normal. It’s easy to understand where lines are crossed is all I’m saying.


  2. The Curse of the Black Pearl is definitely the best of the four, so I won’t even bother to comment on the others 😉 But now you’re saying it, I think you’re right, Jack isn’t really the main character…


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