Ranking the Pirates of the Caribbean movies
Pirates of the Caribbean movies are my all time favorite. I have found no better movie or series that combines action, adventure, excitement, and some historical details so beautifully and perfectly. I like them so much more than other movies that they almost “break the scale” for me in terms of ranking other movies. In addition, I usually enjoy even my least favorite Pirates of the Caribbean movie more than any other movies.
In Pirates CSG Podcast #30, I briefly ranked all 5 of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. You can find that podcast at the bottom of this page, but in this post I wanted to rank all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies in text form, more comprehensively. I know this is a little off-topic compared to my usual Pirates CSG focus, but between the 2007 expansion and intense relation to Pirates CSG (exact same theme), I think it’s quite fitting. Keep in mind that my ratings are comparing these movies against each other – compared to all movies in general, I would rate them all about 9/10 or better haha! (I love them that much) So without further ado, here is my official opinion on ranking what I believe to be the best movie series of all time!
1. The Curse of the Black Pearl
The first movie is the most classic. A true swashbuckling film from start to finish, this movie resurrected the pirate genre and spurred a blockbuster series that has lasted 15+ years.
- Cast and the characters they portray
- Historical setting mixed with the right amount of fantasy
- Understandable plot with twists and turns that make things exciting
- Multiple climaxes in a way – many peak experiences throughout the movie
- Unforgettable music, on par with the best in movie history
Cons: None? I feel that CotBP is the most perfect movie I’ve ever seen!
Ben’s Rating: 10/10
Best game piece from Pirates CSG: Captain Jack Sparrow
This ship can move and shoot using the same move action. When this ship is given an explore action, you can swap a treasure on the wild island with a crew on any friendly ship.
Link: All Pirate Ships
- Collector’s Number: 058
- Faction Affiliation: Pirate
- Rarity: C
- Type: Crew
- Point Value: 6
CJS is arguably the best crew in the entire game, as proved by VASSAL Tournaments #1 and #2. You could make a case that he is the single best game piece ever released by Wizkids. When most of the best fleets in the history of the game have this guy as their centerpiece, you know he’s amazing, and you also know that something went wrong. I do find it rather ironic that our beloved character is such a dominant force in the game, since he’s such a major character in the movies as well.
2. Dead Man’s Chest
The second movie was shot simultaneously with the third movie, and DMC does serve as a link to At World’s End while the first movie is really on it’s own in terms of the plot. While Dead Man’s Chest is another fantastic pirate movie, it’s definitely not as perfect as the first one. (though it would be nigh impossible to match the original of course)
- We get to see Captain Jack in a completely different state
- Great amount of fitting humor
- Davy Jones and his crew are menacing but fun
- No ship battle
- Kraken a bit overpowered/excessive
Ben’s Rating: 8/10
Best game piece from Pirates CSG: HMS Endeavour
- Collector’s Number: 003
- Faction Affiliation: England
- Rarity: R
- Type: Ship
- Point Value: 21
- Cargo Space: 4
- Base Move: L
- Cannons: 2L,2L,2L,2L,2L
- Number of Masts: 5
This ship eliminates two masts with one hit.
Flavor text: Lord Beckett’s flagship and the symbol of the Crown’s power, HMS Endeavour is the most impressive warship on the sea.
Sure she didn’t play much of a role until the 3rd movie, but this cannot be avoided. Just about on par with El Acorazado and the Constitution as the best gunship in the game. Combine the best guns money can buy with just about the best offensive ship ability in the game, and give those to the most offensively-minded faction, and you’ve got a warship for the ages.
3. At World’s End
The 3rd movie is in my opinion the most EPIC, which gets it major points in my book. The movie is the culmination and grand climax of the first 3 movies, building everything up to some of the most epic moments ever seen in movies. The humor is still there, the cast is top-notch, and there are few movies that can match its brilliance. A complicated and difficult-to-follow plot is the only thing that holds it back from being as good as the first movie.
- EPIC!! On par with Lord of the Rings for me.
- Everything you could want in an epic/action/adventure/Disney/pirate movie
- Climax and payoff of just about all major storylines built up from the start of the first movie
- Incredible actions scenes including an epic ship battle
- LUDICROUSLY amazing soundtrack
- Overly complicated – plot can be very difficult to follow at times
Ben’s Rating: 9.5/10
Best game piece from Pirates CSG: Hai Peng
- Collector’s Number: 013
- Faction Affiliation: Pirate
- Rarity: R
- Type: Ship
- Point Value: 13
- Cargo Space: 4
- Base Move: S+L
- Cannons: 3S,4S
- Number of Masts: 2
Junk. If this ship has a captain crew, she gets +L to her base move.
But where would Captain Jack Sparrow be without a ship? It might not be a ship he even sailed on in the movies, but the Hai Peng is the fastest ship in the entire game, and the fleets involved in T1 and T2 prove how insanely effective it is to pair them up. The only reason the Hai Peng isn’t higher is because without CJS, the HP wouldn’t be as ridiculously good.
4. On Stranger Tides
The 4th movie was supposed to have a smaller budget and reduced cast from the trilogy of 1-3, so I went in with lowered expectations. That was key to my enjoying the movie, as it turned out to be an (arguably inevitable) serious letdown to most of the fanbase. With Captain Jack trying to hold up a lesser cast by himself, the movie just doesn’t have the magic, scale, and excitement of the originals. A “new era” of Pirates of the Caribbean is born after the true high of AWE’s ending scenes.
- New characters to spice things up (though they aren’t quite as good as those from the original 3 movies)
- Adventuring theme that may have been slightly lacking in movies 2 and 3
- A bit “meh” in nearly every way – just not the same for cast, music, plot, action, or emotions
- No ship battle – in fact, not a single cannon shot I believe! 🙁
Ben’s Rating: 4/10 (still 8.5+/10 compared to all other movies)
With this movie and the 5th one being released after Pirates CSG went out of print in 2008, there were no game pieces from this movie. However, we can make customs!
5. Dead Men Tell No Tales
If the “lower budget” and different cast made me appreciate the 4th one more, I was overhyped for the 5th movie. Although fantastic overall, myself and others had many gripes with the movie, from the casting to the plot to redundant repetition. It’s a fun movie, just not quite as great as the trailers or cast would make you expect. You can find my full review of the movie here.
- Humor – St. Martin town scene, wedding scene, etc.
- Blurring of lines between good vs. bad – you can easily root for the antagonist
- Wasted star power (Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, and Paul McCartney are hardly in the movie!)
- Continuity issues/plot holes
- Too unrealistic – many bizarre things that were really obvious mistakes
- Meh characters/acting – even Captain Jack is not the same anymore
Ben’s Rating: 6/10 (still 9/10 compared to all other movies)
Although there aren’t game pieces from DMTNT, I’ve made some customs that you can find at the bottom of the Epic Seas sheet (4th tab).
You can also find all the movies in boxed sets, not to mention the excellent soundtracks.
Here you can hear my opinion during the 30th episode of the Podcast. I’ve also ranked the Top 10 Caribbean game pieces and the best game pieces from the set with multiple versions.
Check out the other episodes of the Podcast here.
Dude sick website! I’m going to be honest, I’ve never actually seen one like it! It’s a really cool idea. Question for you though, how long do you think they’ll keep the pirates movies going?
Thanks for the compliment, it means a lot!
Tough to say about PotC going forward. The 5th movie was in doubt at various times, and a 6th is further pushing it. However, there is always hope. Even more than that in this case – sounds like it might really happen! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirates_of_the_Caribbean_(film_series)#Pirates_of_the_Caribbean_6_(TBA)
Thanks for commenting!
The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are the greatest!! Not to mention the acting of Johnny Depp!!! I have to agree, my favourite was the first movie ‘The curse of the Black Pearl’, I am pretty sure the first movie is always the best in any circumstance!!
@Juvette: Thanks for commenting, I agree!
I’m a massive fan of these films and I can’t agree more, I think the 3rd movie edges it for me but only because it’s the climax of the first 3 movies! This was a great read and I’m in the mood to watch all the films again! What do you think of Johnny Depp being dropped and would you like to see next for the franchise?
@Nick Cooke: Thanks! And yeah, the 3rd movie is unmatched in terms of epicness and sheer scale, which I value quite highly. I rewatched all the movies in the leadup to Dead Men Tell No Tales coming out and it was great.
If Johnny Depp truly doesn’t come back, I think it would simultaneously discourage a big part of the fanbase (just yesterday I saw comments from people saying they wouldn’t see a PotC movie without him in it), but also allow them to go in a new direction that could allow for more sequels (though on a smaller scale most likely) with a brand new plot and fresh ideas. I actually think an ensemble cast (not unlike movies 1-3, especially 3) could provide the series with more longevity than just relying on Captain Jack.
Me, I’d just love to see more movies in general. XD I’d prefer Captain Jack back of course, but I’d see any new movies even if he wasn’t in them. I hope they don’t bring back Davy Jones (even though he’s awesome), since they already wrapped up those stories perfectly in the 3rd movie. It would be nice to see some crazy action-packed adventures with lots of excitement that doesn’t revolve around the typical undead antagonist who hates Captain Jack for whatever reason.
Love your comment!
Wow, what an awesome website. This is definitely a site for those who are fans of this subject. I’ve watched the films and I loved them. So this is for sure a go-to place. Love it!
@Eric: Thanks for the kind words! Glad you love PotC as well.
I really liked the information that you provided! Personally, I also love the Curse of the Black Pearl and I feel like you when you say that it has no cons. One of the best movies ever!
Thank you for all the information!
@Juan Felipe: Curse of the Black Pearl is definitely one of the best movies of all time!
Thanks for commenting,
Hi Ben, great post.
I like all PotC movies but the first one CotBP is the best.
Your in-depth review of the movies and the tips regarding each Pirates CSG shows that you know what you are talking about!
Keep up the good work Ben.
@Fred Ota: Thanks! Indeed, CotBP is #1 among PotC movies, with AWE not far behind for me at least.
Yes, I’ve seen the movies a lot and played the game a ton, so I have some experience in these matters! 🙂
Hi Ben, good post. I’ve watched all of the Pirates movies and I enjoyed the majority but they fall under LOTR for me personally lol. That said, Pirates #3 was my favourite as it did an excellent job of wrapping up what was a really great series. That’s the only one I actually own on DVD. I did enjoy #1 too. Anything with Jack is bound to be funny though, he’s a great character.
@Tamika: Thanks! Lord of the Rings is another absolutely incredible series! Love those movies too. Glad that At World’s End is your favorite PotC movie – I find it underrated and barely “worse” than the first one.
Thanks for commenting!
I agree with your ranking regarding the series! It seem to just progressively get worse every movie they put out! Sounds like the same path Fast & Furious went down. First movie they are racing cars! The new F&F movies they are trying to sling shot Vin Diesel around the moon then land on a asteroid, to just hitch a ride back to earth to win a space race 🙂 LOL
Yeah, a bit of regression similar to what we saw through the Pirates CSG production run. Though, similar to Pirates, I’ll still be buying whatever they come up with next. Pirates 6 is looking more likely now. 😀 To me even a subpar PotC movie is still better than ~98% of movies I watch.