Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

2003, Walt Disney Pictures et al

Who knew that a film adaptation of a Disney theme park ride would even work, let alone become wildly successful? Of course, much of its success is due to Johnny Depp's bizarre characterization of pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, which earned him a Screen Actor's Guild Award, while the film earned a plethora of award nominations and wins. It proves the old adage that it's not the story, but the telling.

       

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

2006, Walt Disney Pictures et al

At 150 minutes, Dead Man's Chest is an awful lot of swashbuckling to wade through, although that didn't stop it from earning over a billion Doubloons. This time, an unrecognizable (thanks to some remarkable CGI work) Bill Nighy creates a decidedly darker pirate than we might have expected, and a good foil for Johnny Depp's inebriated idiot.

       

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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

2007, Walt Disney Pictures et al

Much more of the same becomes unwieldy, with too many characters and wild story threads to keep track of for 168 bladder-straining minutes. One of the least memorable member of the franchise.

   

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

2011, Walt Disney Pictures et al

One wonders how many more of these Disney can possibly crank out. As it happens, as many as will continue to rake in the Doubloons—with this one earning another billion. One can only assume, then, that audiences can't get enough of Johnny Depp staggering through a parade of action set pieces strung together by little more than colorful celluloid.

   

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

2017, Walt Disney Pictures et al

A convoluted, nearly incomprehensible story is (nearly) saved from drowning by Javier Bardem as un-dead Captain Armando Salazar, although he has a tough time competing with the glut of overwrought CGI effects. Lowest-earner of the franchise, despite receiving marginally better reviews than its immediate predecessor.

And now, to answer the hypothetical question I posed previously, Disney has already begin work on #6, with no plans to end the franchise anytime soon. Argh.

   

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