Throwback Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl

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.

The Story

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.

My Review

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.

My Recommendations

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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Watching the Extended LOTR with Kids – all Twelve Hours

Being stuck at home has very few perks, being able to watch the entire extended Lord of the Rings movies with the whole family ended up being one of them. My kiddos hadn’t seen any of them before. Until recently the youngest was too young to understand or be okay with the action scenes. It might have been desperation talking, but we deemed it the perfect time to add a whole new universe to their ever growing list of sci-fi/fantasy experiences.

Normally when we suggest doing a family movie night, the suggestion is met with a mixed bag of whining and gnashing of teeth. One of the three will be cool with it and the other two, depending on how teenagery they feel about the whole thing, will try to respectfully (or not so respectfully, depending on how the current Fortnight match is going) decline.

This time ALL THREE wanted to watch, and not just the first movie, or the first part of the first movie. No, they all wanted to watch all three movies. That’s a whopping 12 hours of family togetherness. Win.

I’m not sure if it was stir crazies caused by day after day of being stuck at home with a dwindling list of things that sound remotely interesting to do, or if Lord of the Rings holds some mystical appeal that attracts our nerdiness like a magnet, but I’m grateful. For eight nights over the course of two weeks, we snuggled up on the couches, popped popcorn, and watched the epic unfold.

For a movie that’s turning twenty in 2021, the story and the cinematography has stood the test of time remarkably well. It was amazing when it came out, it’s amazing now.

As a lifelong fantasy fan, having my kids enjoy something that I love is a dream come true. We played spot the Peter Jackson and discussed Andy Serkis’s evolution from minor role, to major character. We cheered the good guys winning and hid under blankets when Shelob crawled out of her spidery hole. We all cringed when Aragorn starts singing and hooted when he and Arwen smooched on screen. There might have even been a few tears shed as Eowyn witnesses the dying breath of King Theodred.

While I can’t plan on this amount of sheer movie attractiveness ever happening again, I can rest assured that hubby and I have done our part in teaching the kiddos their geek legacy.

Favorite moments from the films include Gandalf smacking his head inside Bilbo’s home at Bag End, Gandalf decking a throughly panicked Denethor with his staff, watching my 8-year-old crouch on the end of the couch just like Gollum, and Samwise carrying Frodo up the mountain.

Next on the list: The extended Hobbit movies. We’ve got a whole box of microwave popcorn and apparently endless opportunities for family togetherness – let’s do this thing!

What are you all watching with your families? I’d love to hear about it!


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