3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017)
Directors: Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg
This is the sequel At World’s End deserved.
When re-watching the Pirates franchise, it may even be worth skipping On Stranger Tides altogether to dive straight into Salazar’s Revenge (originally known as Dead Men Tell No Tales).
While the plot is patchy and the opening sequence of Jack robbing a bank from the inside is long and jarring, the collection of new characters (introduced in an attempt to provide the series with a soft reboot) do work (against all odds) and provide at least some element of newness to watching Captain Jack running around as things happen to him. And they’ve brought back those missing names from the fourth film too!
Javier Bardem is new as Captain Salazar, the captain of a ship of the undead trapped for eternity in their state by the Bermuda Triangle because of the hijinks of a young Captain Jack, and he chases our beloved franchise-leading hero down in an attempt to take his now iconic plot-steering device: his compass.
It’s exactly the swashbuckling adventure fans of the original trilogy deserved; the CGI exceeded all expectations, the casting was perfect and the ending was both as heartbreaking and as fan-serving as it needed to be.
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2. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Director: Gore Verbinski
The introduction of Jack Sparrow is one of cinema’s all time greats. As soon as he’s on the screen we want to know more about him and find out what his story is (and why his boat is sinking!) – his entrance into Port Royal is one of a charm and intelligence unlike anything we had ever seen until that point. The question which is later answered “does he plan it all or does he make it up as he goes along?” springs to mind almost instantly. He’s sassy, clever, stupid and interesting, and not like any other character we’ve seen.
Will soon becomes Jack’s right hand man and gets a bit more of a personality than at the start of the film, his story mostly centres around his rivalry with James Norrington in winning Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, nothing in comparison to the storylines he gets to play with in the following films.
Once the plot gets going it’s funny and intriguing – scary enough that children feel brave for watching it but entertaining enough to keep parents from becoming bored.
Geoffrey Rush’s performance as Captain Barbossa is a fantastic counterweight to Depp’s now iconic turn as Sparrow, the Black Pearl captain introduced as a terrifying presence and one of the most quotable in the whole movie – the moment he reveals himself to be hexed with an undying curse and delivers the unforgettable line “You best start believing in ghost stories Miss Turner, you’re in one” is simply unforgettable, the visual effects of the ship’s crew turning into skeletons when penetrated by moonlight surviving the test of time to still look excellent today.
For fans of the original theme park attraction, The Curse of the Black Pearl was imagination come to life. It was so witty and entertaining, and took all kinds of details from the ride that only the attraction’s biggest fans would have been able to identify. It was both fan service and a rip-roaring blockbuster adventure on the high seas, an almost perfect family action-adventurer that would have been number one on this list were it not for the below average characterisation of Elizabeth.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
Director: Gore Verbinski
In the top spot is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest for one simple reason… Davy Jones.
Bill Nighy’s portrayal of the half squid/half pirate captain is as close to fantastic as such a role could ever be considered to be, his portrayal and the CG display of the character being one of pure cinematic gold.
Here, the plot is complex but not confusing, the characters all develop in their own unique ways and finally Elizabeth Swan is given something more to do than complain about having to wear a corset.
The reintroduction of James Norrington (Jack Davenport) is a welcomed one, and his constant battle with himself becomes one of the most identifiable and noteworthy of the entire franchise, morals and self-discovery being at the forefront of his arc, and the plot on the whole is intricate with character motivations at its forefront, and unusual situations as creative as they ever were.
The most rewatchable of the lot, and the best in terms of technical excellence and artistic prowess, it’s Dead Man’s Chest at our number one.
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So there you have it, the five Pirates of the Caribbean films ranked from worst to best. If you’re reading this and chomping at the bit to make a comment or re-order the franchise for yourself, be sure to leave a comment below or to tweet us your thoughts.