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

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl2003

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



Critic Consensus: May leave you exhausted like the theme park ride that inspired it; however, you'll have a good time when it's over.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Photos

Movie Info

A tale of adventure set during the 17th Century in the Caribbean Sea. For the roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow, the crystalline waters of the Caribbean, like the high seas the world over, present a vast playground where adventure and mystery abound. But Jack's idyllic life capsizes after his nemesis, the wily Captain Barbossa, steals his ship, the Black Pearl, and later attacks the town of Port Royal, kidnapping the Governor's beautiful daughter, Elizabeth Swann. Elizabeth's childhood friend, Will Turner, joins forces with Jack to commandeer the fastest ship in the British fleet, the HMS Interceptor, in a gallant attempt to rescue her and recapture the Black Pearl. The duo and their crew are pursued by Elizabeth's betrothed, the debonair, ambitious Commodore Norrington, aboard the HMS dauntless. Unbeknownst to Will, there is a curse that has doomed Barbossa and his crew to live forever as the undead--when exposed to moonlight, they are exposed to living skeletons. The curse they carry can be broken, only if a once-plundered treasure is restored.

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Johnny Depp
as Jack Sparrow
Geoffrey Rush
as Captain Barbossa
Orlando Bloom
as Will Turner
Keira Knightley
as Elizabeth Swann
Jack Davenport
as Norrington
Kevin McNally
as Joshamee Gibbs
Jonathan Pryce
as Governor Weatherby Swann
Zoe Saldana
as Anamaria
Dylan Smith
as Young Will Turner
Greg Ellis
as Officer Groves
Damian O'Hare
as Lt. Gillette
Giles New
as Murtogg
Guy Siner
as Harbormaster
Ralph P. Martin
as Mr. Brown
Paul Keith
as Butler
Lucinda Dryek
as Young Elizabeth
Michael Sean Tighe
as Seedy Looking Prisoner
Ben Wilson
as Seedy Prisoner No. 2
Antonio Valentino
as Seedy Prisoner No. 3
Lauren Maher
as Scarlett
Mike Babcock
as Seedy Prisoner No. 4
Owen Finnegan
as Town Clerk
Sam Roberts
as Crying Boy
Ben Roberts
as Crying Boy
Fred Toft
as Quartetto
D.P. Fitzgerald
as Weatherby
Jerry Gauny
as Ketchum
Finneus Egan
as Scratch
Don Ladaga
as Nipperkin
View All

News & Interviews for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Critic Reviews for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

All Critics (222) | Top Critics (53)

A wonderful entertainer, thrilling, engrossing and stylish...

January 4, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Rip-roaring fun for kids who don't mind skeletons.

December 27, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Here -- in a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced high-seas adventure that incorporates roaring cannons, oddball comedy, a love story and more than a touch of the supernatural -- Depp unleashes his theatrical bravado. He's hilarious.

November 1, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Depp invests this overfed, action-tractioned swashbuckler with a voluptuous wit and spry spontaneity it surely doesn't deserve.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

And so we leave the cinema happy, our heads full of Gareth and gangsters-at-sea. Context, of course, is all.

January 24, 2004

Johnny, the kids and the pirates have a number-one hit on their hands. They raise the Jolly Roger and make other summer blockbusters walk the plank.

September 27, 2003 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl


Well who'd of thought a film about a theme park ride would become so huge. A simple theme park attraction that I rode when I was but a wee nipper in Disney World Florida, and it wasn't that amazing if I recall. So Verbinski and Bruckheimer take many ideas and leafs out of the video game The Secret of Monkey Island and low and behold we have our pirate flick. Tis the year of our lord errr...the late 17th Century, or possibly the early 18th Century, not too sure, but plundering be a plenty! The crew of the Black Pearl are after cursed treasure and the blood of the last remaining pirate so they can break the curse put upon them for stealing the cursed gold in the first place. Unfortunately the last pirate is dead (cos they killed him) so they need his offspring instead, in the mean time Captain Jack Sparrow is wanting his beloved vessel back under his control. The plot is actually kinda fiddly methinks and even now I'm having to wrap my head around exactly why and how things happen. So the Aztec gold is cursed and that curse turns the pirates into the undead, skeletal warriors that are unable to be killed. Now is that really a curse? These guys are pirates, they live a life of danger and plundering, surely being immortal and invincible would be really handy traits to have no? I don't really understand why these guys wanna break the curse so badly and make themselves vulnerable to death which inevitably awaits them at every turn. Especially with the whole British Navy after them all the time. There are many little quibbles I have with the plot really, in all the battle sequences the good guys fight the pirates, but what for?? they can't win, the pirates can't be killed, it just seems so pointless to me. To break the curse all the pirates that stole the gold need to put their blood back into the chest along with all the gold...I think, yet that isn't made clear. You tend to think its just the offspring of Bootstrap Bill, this is why Sparrow wipes his blood on the coin in the end which I never clicked on. That leads me to the other point or mistake that Barbossa is shot by Sparrow before Turner drops the last blood soaked coin into the chest. So doesn't that mean that at the exact moment he was shot he was still cursed and invincible? Thusly he should have survived that bullet. The coin should of been in the chest before Barbossa was shot surely. Quibbles aside the film is actually a rollicking good adventure the likes of which hadn't been seen for some time. In the good old fashioned tradition of Errol Flynn swashbucklers by jove. I can't deny that the film is tremendous fun enhanced of course by the campy performance of Depp which came straight out of left field. No one really expected what Depp came up with and it was really fresh! The film could so easily have become a stuffy straight laced predictable action romp ('Cutthroat Island' anyone?) but the inclusion of Depp's Sparrow really gave a different angle. You have the obligatory hero in Bloom and of course the damsel in distress with Knightly but Sparrow was such a unique character giving such a quirky boost to the traditional proceedings. On top of that was the inclusion of a vast array of really decent pirate characters both good and bad from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds. This not only gave the film a nice comic book-esque feel but also actual realism as of course pirates of the day were a scurvy bunch from all over, pirates were pretty politically correct and hired anyone. I personally liked Mr Cotton and his parrot in the traditional sense there. Ragetti and Pintel are a classic slapstick duo of baddie pirates that amuse nicely. Whilst Kevin McNally as Gibbs gives us another traditional approach with lots of golden pirate dialog that I think stems from Robert Newton and Disney's 1966 Treasure Island film. Gotta give kudos to the makeup and costume designs for the pirates, they really do look completely unwashed. Their teeth, facial hair, coarse knotted looking head hair, even their eyes, it all looks really authentic. Naturally Sparrow isn't quite as scruffy as the rest but his attire is definitely more effeminate which is funny, more so with his body language. Oh and Barbossa...Soul Calibur the movie much? Cervantes if you ask me, just running that up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes it. In all honesty there are so many good characters in this film its hard to narrow them all down. Then you have the typical type of visuals that you'd think Tim Burton had a hand in, excellent dark atmospheric sequences and shots including dark misty seascapes, fog bound galleons, the yellow glow of light from a cross hatched window pane breaking through the gloomy night, skeleton pirates in the moonlight, bleak islands by night etc...Then on the flip side there are the gorgeous daylight visuals of the British ports, sandy beaches, palm trees, galleons and various other vessels harbouring against tropical settings etc...its all here. Everything you'd expect to see and everything you want to see in a good old fashioned pirate film. I can see why the film expected to bomb as its one of those dodgy types of genres, but from the offset you can see the quality of detail on display. Everything really looks top dollar all the way through the film but amazingly the film has such a good range of characters (which is unusual lets be honest) it really doesn't matter. For once a Hollywood blockbuster actually got it right and gave us something other than flashy special effects, they gave us good fun characters we care about...to a degree. Also the special effects aren't all CGI which is one for the books (skeletons aside), a lot of the action is using real sets, real explosions, real stunts and in real locations which really does make all the difference, just like in the good old days. The actual pirate skeletons still look OK but of course feel a bit dated these days. The CGI can't be hidden with these guys and it is obvious, that inescapable fake plastic feel about them. Should have used stop motion I reckon hehe. To this day I still can't believe this summer blockbuster managed to do what the creators set out to do. To make a film harking back to the days of the silver screen, the golden age of Hollywood and at the same time use traditional real time effects without much use of CGI (what they did use was sensibly done, sparingly). They took an Errol Flynn swashbuckler added some nice touches of humour, a little modern action here and there, a dash of good old fashioned sea tales/myths and cranked up the location visuals to produce a top adventure. If only the plot had been a little clearer in places. Gotta love the film title though huh.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Nowadays, Disney has pretty much transformed into a Goliath of a studio. From purchasing Star Wars and Marvel to releasing 80 to 90% quality entertainment in recent years, there is no sign of them slowing down. In my opinion, the beginning of where they are today was precisely Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Although this franchise has had its ups and downs over the years, this first instalment is remembered as a classic by many. Sure, there are definitely some non-fans out there, but this is pure entertainment from start to finish. Filled with tons of swash-buckling fun, some likeable characters, and a real sense of adventure, here is why I believe Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl still holds up over 14 years later. Following a hunted pirate in Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), an experienced and love-bound blacksmith in Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), and action-wise damsel in distress in Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley), this film follows the tropes of classic films in the same genre throughout many years. From the love interest being kidnapped by the main villain (in Barbossa) to the love triangles on the side, there isn't much unpredictability here, aside from a few clever reveals in the final act. From beginning to end, this film finds ways of making this premise feel fresh for a new audience. In my opinion, nearly every character is likeable, which is what makes this film that much more enjoyable. When it comes to #Disney, they're not shy when coming up with new characters to make classics. Although they haven't had too many classic characters in recent memory, say for Elsa or Lightning McQueen (if he even counts), Jack Sparrow is recognized on a global scale. Not only is he fun to dress up as, but he has a large presence on-screen and he is the staple that made this franchise so enjoyable from the get go. Sure, there are eons of stories to tell throughout this world of pirates and treasure hunters, but the interaction between Sparrow and the rest of the characters is truly what makes this film so memorable in my eyes. Upon multiple viewings over the years, my enjoyment of this film has not diminished one bit. That being said, I can't help but feel the length of this film after repeat viewings. It's not that it becomes stale, but there are quite a few moments that take their time to tell the story in order to give the audience some time to recuperate from the previous action sequence. Due to the amount of surprises throughout the course of this film, I'm still able to forgive the slow moments, because the entertainment value this film has, still trumps all. After all these years, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl still remains the best in its franchise. There are a few pacing issues and quite a few cheesy mistakes in its filmmaking, but this really is just a fun family adventure. As a blockbuster, this first instalment hits every right note it needs to. It won't be able to please everyone, and newcomers that are 14 years late to the party may not quite be as invested as audiences were back in 2003, but there is no denying that there was a large amount of effort put into making this film fun for all ages. In the end, the sword fights, plot twists, sense of adventure, and overall impact of this epic adventure are still very present if you are a fan. Newcomers can still find enjoyment here in bingeing the franchise, so yes, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl comes no less recommended as it did years ago.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer


A fun swashbuckling action/adventure that is helped along by a very well-rounded cast, but the main attraction (outside of the fantastic costumes and set designs) is by far Johnny Depp's charmingly iconic turn as Captain Jack Sparrow. I feel like I would have liked this flick more if the pacing had been tighter (20 minutes could have been cut from the runtime), the plot less convoluted, and the direction had been more imaginative and lively.

Christopher Heim
Christopher Heim

Super Reviewer

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