Disney was trying to find ways to tap various IPs (they did not yet own Marvel or Lucasfilm). They started to look to their theme park rides. And they tapped the director of the remake of the the Japanese Horror film the Ring. And hired Johnny Depp.
Young Will Turner was orphaned when a ship he was on (When he was much younger) was attacked by the pirates of the ship the Black Pearl. Turner is found with a gold coin that young Elizabeth Swann pockets when she finds him.
He is now an apprentice to a blacksmith, but as you would suspect longs for adventure. He is also has a crush on Swann, daughter of the governor.
Elizabeth has been involved with Captain Norrington, who proposes to her. Captain Jack Sparrow, a rock and roll pirate, arrives on a literally sinking ship. He is attempting to steal a new ship in a quest. But he gets captured when he sees Elizabeth fall into the sea and leaps in to save her. The gold coin she found years earlier has a surprise reaction when it touches the sea.
That night, the Black Pearl arrives and pillages the village, as well as kidnapping Elizabeth. The authorities do nothing, so Will teams with Sparrow to pursue the Pearl and Elizabeth.
Of course, being based on a ride, the filmmakers have a lot of room to do whatever they want. And so, Pirates of the Caribbean is equal parts adventure and fantasy. The pirates of the Black Pearl are not just pirates, they are ghost pirates! In the moonlight, they become skeletal monsters. Led by the immortal Captain Barbossa, they are seeking the missing coins of the treasure that cursed them many years ago.
This ends up making for a rollicking fun, full of wild stunts, sword fights and high seas action. While Orlando Bloom is a bit bland, the rest of the cast is extremely strong. Keira Knightly’s Elizabeth Swann is a spirited fighter, while Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa is a despicable and duplicitous fiend. And while it is clear that Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann were meant to be the focus of the film, Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow pretty much steals the show.
It’s effects still largely hold up, which is a good thing, considering the film is very relient on their support. Curse of the Black Pearl is an absolutely fun surprise of a film. It does not take itself too seriously and has an enjoyable cast of characters.