Gore Verbinski debuted with the farce Mouse Hunt (1997), followed by
the comedy The Mexican (2001) and by the horrow movie The Ring (2002), a remake of Hideo Nakata's 1998 film.
The swashbuckler comedy Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) is an overlong but often amusing film.
The story is set in the 18th century, at the peak of the pirate era.
A ship is carrying the governor and his little daughter Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is romantically fascinated by stories of pirates.
One day she spots a boy, Will, unconsciously drifting in the sea.
Minutes later they reach an area covered with the burning ruins of several
While Will is still asleep,
Elizabeth steals his pirate necklace that has a golden medallion, which proves that Will is a pirate himself, but then hides it from the ship's captain and from her father.
The story then fast forwards to
eight years later, when Elizabeth is a beautiful young woman and she still
secretly wears the pirate medallion. Will now works for a craftsman. Will and
Elizabeth exchange looks that betray mutual attraction, despite the fact that
Elizabeth is royalty and Will is a blacksmith.
Her father intends her to marry a young man who has just been promoted to
commodore. At the promotion ceremony he proposes to her but doesn't notice
that she is choking on her tight corset and falls into the sea.
Meanwhile, a famous pirate has landed at the port and is chatting with two
guards about the Black Pearl, a legendary pirate ship that is supposed to be faster than any regular ship.
He immediately jumps and rescues Elizabeth, but also finds the pirate
medallion. Before they have time to clarify the matter, the governor,
the commodore and many guards arrive to protect Elizabeth from what is soon
revealed to be a famous pirate, Jack Sparrow.
The governor orders that Jack be hanged, despite having saved the life of his
daughter. Jack takes Elizabeth hostage and manages to flee with acrobatic jumps.
Jack is stopped by Will (who is now a devoted citizen) in a lengthy duel until Jack is arrested by the commodore's troops.
While Jack is in jail, waiting to be executed, the infamous Black Pearl ship
attacks the fort. The pirates kill and loot, capture Elizabeth and find
Jack in a jail. It turns out they are rivals whose captain is Barbossa
and have already tried to kill Jack once after betraying him.
They leave him in jail.
On the pirate ship Elizabeth, pretending to be a maid not the daughter of
the governor, offers the medallion to Barbossa in exchange for her freedom.
Barbossa takes the medallion but keeps her prisoner on the ship.
At the fort Will and the commodore both want to rescue Elizabeth but they
differ in the strategy: the commodore is carefully preparing an attack plan,
while Will wants action immediately.
Will frees Jack, who knows where to find the Black Pearl. Jack accepts to
help Will rescue Elizabeth after he learns of his name. Jack outsmarts
the commodore's troops and steals the fastest ship. Then he reveals to Will
that he knew and respected Will's father: a famous pirate nicknamed Bootstrap.
Will is revolted by the news and refuses to believe him.
Will received a medallion from his father as a gift and had no idea that it was related to piracy.
When they need a crew, Jack again mentions that Will is Bootstrap's son and
that's enough to convince his friend Gibbs to ready a crew for as desperate
enterprise as to battle the Black Pearl. The crew includes a woman
named Anamaria who was robbed of her boat by Jack. Jack promises to refund her
with a bigger boat and Will suggests the ship they just stole, which is worth
many times more.
On the Black Pearl, meanwhile, Barbossa explains to Elizabeth that the medallion is one of 882 gold pieces that the Spanish conquistadores stole from the
Aztecs attracting a curse from the gods. Barbossa's crew found the treasure
and inherited the curse. The only way to remove the curse is to retun all
the medallions, and Elizabeth's is the last one they need. Barbossa also
explains why they didn't kill her: she is going to used for a blood sacrifice to the gods.
As the full moon rises, Elizabeth realizes that the whole crew are skeletons,
including Barbossa himself: they are condemned to be ghosts until they return
the gold and sacrifice some blood. That's the curse.
Meanwhile, on the other ship Gibbs tells Will that Jack used to be the captain of the Black Pearl, then Barbossa and the crew mutinied and dumped him on a desert island, and Barbossa and the crew went for a treasure.
We now realize that Jack is not cursed because they took the treasure after
leaving him on the island.
It's a mystery how Jack survived and escaped from the desert island.
Barbossa takes Elizabeth back to the place where they stole the gold. The ghost pirates dump all the medallions there and Barbossa makes a cut in her hand to get some of her blood. But the curse doesn't go away: they are still immortal ghosts.
We now realize that Elizabeth got herself in trouble when she claimed to be a maid and offered Will's last name as her last name: Barbossa thought she was
Bootstrap's daughter. They need
the blood of Will's father, i.e. Will's blood. Somehow Will's father Bootstrap had something to do with the treasure.
That's the secret about Will that Jack knows: Will is special because he is Botstrap's son and Bootstrap was somehow related to the treasure.
Jack and Will arrive just in time to witness the scene.
Will doesn't wait for Jack's signal and sneaks behind Barbossa and rescues
Elizabeth, while the pirates capture Jack. Jack reveals that Elizabeth is not
Bootstrap's daughter and that Bootstrap's son is sailing away on the stolen
ship. Barbossa and his pirates chase the stolen ship with the faster Black Pearl and eventually catches up.
Will believes they are after the medallion, that Elizabeth has stolen again,
and doesn't know that they are also after him.
Will fights for Elizabeth and, despite Jack's warning not to do anything stupid, Will makes the big mistake of telling Barbossa his name.
Barbossa realizes that Will is the man they are looking for and promises to
let Elizabeth and Jack free if he surrenders. Elizabeth and Jack are dumped
on the same desert island from which Jack once escaped. Elizabeth learns the
truth about Jack's legendary escape: he was saved by liquor smugglers who
were using the island for storage. Elizabeth takes all the liquor and makes
a giant bonfire that signals to her father's ship where she is.
Elizabeth and Jack are rescued. The governor and the commodore refuse to go
after the Black Pearl to save Will. Elizabeth begs them. Jack explains that
the Black Pearl is damaged and no longer the fastest ship. But neither the
governor nor the commodore is motivated to save Will. Then Elizabeth demands
it as a wedding gift from the commodore, i.e. she accepts his marriage proposal.
Jack doublecrosses everybody: first he convinces the commodore that he will
lure Barbossa's pirates out so they can be ambushed by the commodore's men,
then he convinces Barbossa's pirates to attack the commodore's ship, and to
postpone Will's sacrifice until after the attack (once the curse is lifted,
they will lose their superpowers), then he frees Will and attacks Barbossa.
Jack also steals one of the medallions.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth escapes the commodore's ship and boards the Black Pearl
to rescue Will but only manages to free Gibbs' crew which then steals the Black Pearl and is not interested in helping Will.
Elizabeth rows alone on a boat to the place where Jack and Will are dueling
Barbossa while Barbossa's ghosts attack the commodore's ship easily massacring the soldiers.
Barbossa, who is an immortal ghost, cannot be killed and eventually stabs Jack in the chest but Jack doesn't die: he turns into a ghost. By stealing a medallion, he has inherited the curse and is as immortal as Barbossa.
On the other hand, Will drops the missing medallions in the treasure and some of his blood too, thereby lifting the curse. Now Jack can kill Barbossa for real (with a gunshot), and the commodore's soldiers can kill or arrest the pirates who are now back to humans.
Jack has helped defeat the pirates but he is a pirate himself, guilty of many crimes committed over the years.
Days later Jack is about to be executed for his crimes in front of the governor, the commodore, Elizabeth and Will.
After publicly declaring his lover for Elizabeth,
Will launches in a deadly attempt to free Jack, but Will and Jack are quickly surrounded by the commodore's soldiers. Then Elizabeth joins them as a volunteer hostage and the governor has to order the soldiers to lower their swords.
Elizabeth declares her love for Will in front of her father the governor and of her fiance the commodore.
Jack takes advantage of the distraction and jumps into the sea. The Black Pearl appears at the horizon, coming to rescue him.
Accepting that Jack doesn't deserve to die after he helped them,
the governor and the commodore refrain from chasing Jack.
The commodore and the governor also accept Elizabeth's decision to marry Will, a poor blacksmith.
Gibbs' crew welcomes Jack back on the Black Pearl, his old ship, and proclaim
Jack as its captain.
Several sequels were made:
Dead Man's Chest (2006),
At World's End (2007),
On Stranger Tides (2011) and
Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017).
Verbinski also directed the melodrama
The Weather Man (2005),
the computer-animated western movie Rango (2011),
the adaptation The Lone Ranger (2013)
and the horror movie A Cure for Wellness (2016).