Happy 50th Anniversary, Pirates of the Caribbean!

No, not the movies, the attraction they’re based on. Pirates of the Caribbean celebrated its 50th anniversary at Disneyland last Saturday so I thought it would be a great time to rewatch the movies, partly because it’s been awhile since I’ve watched any of them and partly to see if my opinions of them have changed.

In general, my opinions didn’t change but I did make some observations that I hadn’t before.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl – In terms of live action movies, Disney hasn’t made a huge mark on cinematic history (animation is another story, of course). There are classic Disney live action movies, like The Love Bug, The Absent-Minded Professor, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and The Parent Trap but there are only two that, in my opinion, transcend being good Disney movies to being good movies. The first is Mary Poppins and the second one is Curse of the Black Pearl. I realize it hasn’t really stood the test of time yet, so I could be wrong, but I’m convinced it will be in the list of the greats years from now.

Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End – I put these two together because, honestly, that’s how best to look at them. They tell one complete story and that story is incredibly convoluted. What I love about these movies is they bring rich layers of mythology to the franchise, much like the Star Wars prequels and I love Davy Jones as a villain. But, also like the prequels, the strength they have in the bigger, world building picture is matched by their weakness in the smaller, plot and character picture. I don’t hate these movies, but neither do I desire to watch them often.

On Stranger Tides – Ian McShane as Blackbeard and bringing in mermaids to the mythology are the best things about this movie. Everything else feels like a caricature of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It’s almost a great Pirates movie but something always feels off. There is an over the topness to the other movies, but this one goes even farther. In the others, we watch Jack stumble his way to victory and wonder if he’s incredibly lucky or if he actually plans things out this way. In this movie, we watch him plan out his elaborate escape at the beginning of the movie and it feels like someone has pulled the curtain, revealing the man behind it.

All of that said, I love the ride and I am hesitantly optimistic about the new movie coming out this summer.

What do you think about the Pirates of the Caribbean movies?

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