My Top-5 Pirates of the Caribbean Films

I love the Pirates of the Caribbean film series and just recently saw the fifth instalment Dead Men Tell No Tales (a.k.a. Salazar’s Revenge). Instead of a review, I decided that it might be fun to list the POTC films in order of my preference.

Let’s get on with it. Savvy?

5. Dead Man’s Chest

Picking the last two spots of this list came down to coin toss for me, but in all honesty, the middle part of the original trilogy has always been my least favourite. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie, far from it. It just suffers from a severe case of middle-instalment syndrome.

The virtues of Dead Man’s Chest include some fresh new characters and ideas. There’s loads of fun comedy and gigantic action set-pieces to keep you entertained. I think the film also does a good job on building the characters introduced in the first film.

Its problems include a criminal lack of Geoffrey Rush (for story reasons) and the fact that so much of the movie is basically just setting up the third instalment. This is unfortunate, because it inadvertently leads to some storyline bloat for that instalment.

The movie has enough memorable and fun moments to be worth watching, but unless you watch the films immediately preceding and following it, you will be very confused about what’s going on…

4. At World’s End

As I said, the third instalment of the series brought back Geoffrey Rush, introduced a whole bunch of fresh lore to the series and brought the pirates together to take down Cutler Beckett and Davy Jones.

At World’s End is a far from perfect movie, but I felt the film was truly much better than its predecessor for simply re-introducing the good as gold dynamic between Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa. The comedy was fresh, the characters were scheming and Keith Richards got a bitchin’ cameo.

The plot may divide people as some might find it a little muddled and confusing, with so many characters back-stabbing each other, but if you’ve watched all the instalments up to this point, this shouldn’t really surprise you and I even quite enjoyed it. I even find the trippy journey to the afterlife to bring back Jack to be pretty damn hilarious. And of course the movie wouldn’t be complete without a few tear-jerking and gut-wrenching character deaths.

At the same time, like I mentioned in the previous entry, the movie does suffer from a little bit of “story bloat”, since it ties up so many loose ends from the prior instalments. This makes the movie a little ungainly and at the end, Davy Jones turns out to be more of a tragic character than a mighty adversary. The ending is nice but maybe not as rewarding as I would have hoped for the original trilogy.

But if you bothered watching both of the first two films, you really can’t NOT watch this one.

3. Dead Men Tell No Tales

The latest instalment sees Captain Jack fall on hard times, teeming up with the “unholy spawn” of the first three film’s protagonists, face an undead Spanish captain out for Pirate Blood and steal a bank… not the money, but the whole building.

With Dead Men Tell No Tales, the film-makers tossed caution to the wind and decided to just make sure that Jack and company end up in as many off-the-wall and weird situations as possible. Johnny Depp actually gives a surprisingly fresh take on his drunken personality and the comedy factor is high. And yes, after a single movie’s breather, the film sort of returns to some of the themes of the original trilogy but it does so in a way which still makes this an enjoyable movie in its own right.

If I have any complaints, it’s mainly that Captain Salazar kinda fails as a villain compared to Davy Jones or Blackbeard from prior instalment (though he’s way more badass than that tw*t Cutler Beckett). The movie’s final half is a bit of a mess though contains some very moving character moments.

This is absolutely the most comedy-driven instalment of the series with silly off-the-cuff moments dominating the film. Some are probably going to hate it because of it, but I quite enjoyed it.

2. On Stranger Tides

On Stranger Tides sees Jack Sparrow, Blackbeard, the British and the Spanish Armadas go after the Fountain of Youth. Jack is pressured along by the nefarious Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and her daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz) who has a brilliant love/hate relationship with Jack. With the absence of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan, Jack becomes the lead man of this instalment, ending up in a number of fanciful and silly situations, encountering mermaids, disguising himself as a judge and wooing the untrustworthy Angelica.

On Stranger Tides was a breath of fresh air since I felt it once again focused once more on character dynamics and building rather than just big action scenes. Jack and Angelica’s relationship is just brilliant. We also get to see a rather moving moment between Jack and his long-time adversary Barbossa. And the finale was quite brilliant.

On Stranger Tides gets a lot of crap for some reason and I’ve never understood why, since the film isn’t nearly as ungainly as the prior two instalments and has a great layer of comedy to boot, but without it becoming as overbearing as Dead Men Tell No Tales.

The film’s one and only weakness in my view is the second romantic couple of the right-minded missionary Philip and the Mermaid.

1. The Curse of the Black Pearl

In the first instalment, we see the crew of Captain Barbossa come after Elizabeth Swan who, years earlier, took a piece of Aztec gold from a drowning Will Turner. The piece is a part of a giant treasure which Barbossa’s crew must return or else they are cursed forever to sail as undead pirates. Will Turner, now a blacksmith, is forced to join up with Jack Sparrow when the British Guard lead by Admiral Norrington (who also loves Elizabeth) fails to take immediate action.

The original film has always been my favourite. Although the undead pirates might feel like a gimmick, The Curse of the Black Pearl has always felt the least gimmicky of the pirates films and the most straight-forward action buccaneering film of the bunch. I feel the movie finds the perfect blend of action, comedy and character development which culminates in what is still my favourite sword fight of the series. It serves as an excellent kick-off point for the rest of the series and is still the most recommended of all the films.

Oh and as if I haven’t praised him enough, Geoffrey Rush is the fucking man!