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Ranking the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean' Films

'Pirates of the Caribbean' saga (Image via Disney)
'Pirates of the Caribbean' saga (Image via Disney)

Whether people love them or hate them, there is no denying the raw energy and entertainment behind the Pirates of the Caribbean films. It’s even harder to imagine them without their illustrious leading benefactor Johnny Depp as the phenomenal Captain Jack Sparrow.

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The series began in 2003 with The Curse of the Black Pearl when Captain Jack Sparrow recruited a young and naive blacksmith named Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) to commandeer a ship to regain control of his old ship The Black Pearl after the villainous Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) declared mutiny on Sparrow.

The film was acclaimed, as well as Depp’s performance with Disney, giving a new emphasis on pirate films and creating their own shared and lucrative franchise.

This guy is the reason why, I chose to watch the Pirates of the Carribbean series in the first place. It just wouldn't be the same without #JohnnyDepp. 😔 https://t.co/qsaX5jx3Gd

Here is the definitive ranking of these zany Pirates movies.

Disclaimer: This article reflects the author’s views.


Ranking Disney’s Zany Pirates Franchise

5) Dead Men Tell No Tales

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It’s been six years since the last (or fifth) Pirates movie came out and fans were expecting a lot for the long-awaited sequel. Sadly, it didn’t deliver or reinvent the franchise in any meaningful way except to add a slightly better villain in Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar (an improvement over Black-Beard) and a few funny moments from Jack Sparrow.

This ‘fifth-quel’ sees Sparrow being hunted down by Captain Salazar after selling his compass. It was later revealed that Sparrow bested Salazar and safely steered The Black Pearl away from danger, while Salazar and his men “perished” in a shipwreck only to be cursed in the Devil’s Triangle.

The film had all the makings of a good sequel, but it just fell flat in its execution and even Depp lacks the same hilarious presence that he once had in the earlier films. The sad part is, a sixth film is in development and Depp has said that he would not be returning, which spells more trouble for the franchise.


4) On Stranger Tides

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The fourth installment finds Captain Sparrow in search of the mystical fountain of youth with the help of Blackbeard (Ian McShane), his former love interest Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and Barbossa with a silly wig.

Admittedly, one would think that that premise would be enough to make for a compelling film but it’s only held partly afloat by Depp’s witty antics and some marvelous visuals. Much like the fifth film, this sequel throws a lot of interesting topics at the screen without a lot of them connecting to make a cohesive movie.

It seems that much of the film relies primarily on gags and swashbuckling adventure, which is fine for those that only ask for such. However, it succumbs to unmemorable characterization in its story and narrative.


3) At World's End

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This threequel has Sparrow being saved from Davy Jones’ locker which looks like something out of the Sahara Desert. Sparrow’s old gang recruit him once more to help defeat Davy Jones and Beckett from annihilating all pirate-kind.

The movie is overlong and confusing but it’s still brilliant fun that made people run in droves to go see it in theaters. There definitely could have been an improvement on the love subplot between Calypso and Davy Jones but the maelstrom scene is so phenomenal that it is impossible to ignore.


2) The Curse of the Black Pearl

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This was the film that started it all and currently reigns as a cultural phenomenon in Disney’s infinitesimal library. The first film introduces the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow to audiences as he attempts to rally a crew and ship to go after his nemesis Hector Barbossa after Sparrow was marooned on an island.

The film is sweet and simple and requires little understanding of pirate culture for audiences to find it entertaining. Of course, the main ingredient that makes this film so irresistible is Depp’s charismatic performance that draws in crowds.


1) Dead Man's Chest

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A lot of people may take issue with this claim but it’s the truth. The second entry in the Pirates franchise has Jack Sparrow try to settle his debt with the squid-like captain Davy Jones. Sparrow attempts to use Will Turner as a way of recompense to Jones, but Jones refuses to comply.

The film is thrilling, visceral, funny and visually stunning. Its humor is never undermined by its dark tone and its gothic undertones never feel out of place in the realm of the story. A stand-out performance in the film is Bill Nighy’s turn as Davy Jones. Even under the CG trickery, his performance is just as compelling as if it were performed on stage.

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Edited by Somava
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