It’s been seventeen years since the debut of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which means this movie has been around as long as my marriage. A few years ago we tried to show this to my kids and they decidedly didn’t like it. It was too spooky, had freaky skeleton pirates, and required attention to small details like the dialogue. This last weekend we put it to the test again — and they loved it.
In short, the main character of this story is actually the pirate vessel the Black Pearl herself. It is the boat itself that has influenced everyone in the story and driven the leading characters to make unexpected choices. Elizabeth rescues Will Turner from the Black Pearl when he’s young. Captain Jack Sparrow was the captain of the Pearl until there was a mutiny. The crew of the Pearl became cursed when they got greedy and took Cortez’s treasure.
The rest of the story is spent restoring these characters back to where they belong. Elizabeth needs to end up with Will Turner. Will needs to come to terms with his father being a pirate and still a good man. Jack needs to get his boat back. And, the crew needs to get uncursed.
What’s interesting is how each of these pieces become woven together. Elizabeth gets involved in the curse when she steals Will’s necklace, which is a piece of the Cortez treasure. Will should have always been part of the pirate crew because of his father, but only gets involved after Elizabeth is taken by the new captain of the Black Pearl, Barbossa.
In the end, the story is delightfully twisty. First we are shown all these pieces of each character and then in the last third of the story we see how each of these pieces snap together in interesting ways and everyone gets what they deserve, just not in the way you’d expect.
This is a fun movie that’s both full of action and heart. Even though this is a pirate story, Elizabeth and Will both face problems that are very relatable to the audience. As an adult there is plenty of dramatic elements and complexity to keep things interesting and for my kids there was enough slapstick humor and action to make it fun.
The sets are incredible, the costume design intricate and fascinating, and even though it’s campy and silly, the acting is actually pretty good.
This is a great family movie, provided that all are old enough to not be scared by the pirates turning into skeletons and are willing to track what’s happening so it all makes sense. It’s clean, no swearing or overly graphic violence. Yes, there’s plenty of fun fighting and sword play, but very few depictions of blood.
If a kid’s old enough to be okay with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, they should be fine for the movie.
I rate Curse of the Black Pearl 5/5 stars, super fun, lots of eye candy, and it’s exactly what it set out to be – a great pirate movie.
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