Netflix seemingly accomplished the impossible recently. The streaming service adapted a mega popular anime and manga property called One Piece, and people are absolutely loving it. The show carries an 85 percent critic rating and a 96 percent audience score. Networks kill for those kind of numbers.
One Piece is the story of a young adventurer named Monkey D. Luffy who wants to find the legendary titular treasure and become king of the pirates. In order to do so, he has to put together a crew and find a ship.
One Piece already had a built in fan base, which isn’t that surprising considering it’s the best-selling manga series of all-time. It also had an unintended consequence; bringing pirate-themed shows back into the zeitgeist.
Because of this fact, we’ve put together a list of 10 of the best pirate shows and movies out there to watch after you’ve binged your way through One Piece.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
This film is the first in a series of increasingly not as good sequels (although the second on isn’t bad at all), and it has no business being as fun as it is. Based on the Disney ride, producer Jerry Bruckheimer wisely chose to downplay that aspect and instead presented a swashbuckling story about cursed pirates and gold.
Released in 2003, it introduced us to one of the most enduring figures in popular culture: Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp before he was married to Amber Heard and more known for a bed-pooping incident.
POTC tells the story of a blacksmith named Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) who wants to rescue his beloved Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) from her pirate kidnappers, who sail on the black Pearl.
The pirates want to find the last pieces of some cursed Aztec gold and lift a curse on themselves. Turner frees Sparrow, who was the old captain of the Pearl, and enlists him to find a crew to track down the pirates and save the girl. Depp’s performance on the film earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor and catapulted his career into the stratosphere.
Could we really have a list like this and not include this all-time classic? Starring Robin Williams in his prime, this unconventional sequel to Peter Pan was released in 1991 to so-so reviews, but is widely considered a favorite today, something that’s not surprising considering its pedigree.
Legendary director Steven Spielberg helmed the movie, and it starred Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook, Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) as Mr. Smee and a pre-Harry Potter Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy.
The story picks up with corporate lawyer Peter Banning (Williams) struggling to maintain a healthy work/life relationship with his family. He can’t even find time to attend his son’s baseball games, but he hopes a trip to London will help mend fences.
After a series of events and his children being kidnapped by Captain Hook, Peter gets help from the Lost Boys and remembers his old powers as Pan. He defeats Hook and saves the day, but there’s a lot of nuance in between all that.
Our Flag Means Death
This historical series is based on the adventures of 18th Century pirate Stede Bonnet, a rich landowner who left a comfortable life for a ragged one on the sea. The show is based in 1717, when Bonnet supposedly lived heartily in Barbados.
Bonnet is played by Rhys Darby, and in the beginning of the show he hates real violence, wants his crew to be extra safe and ends each night with a bedtime story. Things start a little slow but really pick up steam toward the end, and by the end of the first season the show was the most-watched on HBO.
It also has a funny, sad and heartfelt romance between Bonnet and fellow pirate Blackbeard. It’s great once you get past the plodding exposition. Stick with it!
Black Sails is another historical pirate show, but this time we’re on New Providence Island. Weirdly, it’s actually a prequel to the classic novel Treasure Island written by Robert Louis Stevenson.
It follows the adventures of Captain Flint, who recruits a loquacious crew member named John Silver (who’s probably now better known as a fast food restaurant). It’s set during the same period as Our Flag, widely considered to be the golden age of piracy.
If you’re looking for a gritty and realistic adaptation of the pirate lifestyle, this one’s for you.
This 2002 animated Disney movie is a sci fi retelling of the classic Treasure Island. It features young Jim Hawkins, who dreams of a life filled with adventure and intrigue. Hawkins discovers that so-called “Treasure Planet” is real and he wants to track it down.
Like the original story, John Silver, in this iteration a robot cook, devises a mutiny to steal the treasure. Hawkins has to overcome the mutiny and eventually gets a piece of the treasure and a trip home.
It wasn’t a huge hit when it came out but is largely considered a classic today. In 2002, it had to compete with the Lord of the Rings movies and CGI Pixar movies, which were all the rage back then, but it’s a hidden gem for sure.
If a modern pirate movie is more your speed, then Captain Phillips is the way to go. It’s the real life story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking by Somali pirates. The movie depicts the dangerous tactics used by the pirates and features real Somali actors.
Hanks delivers an understated, powerful performance of a captain dealing with a very dangerous situation and being forced to step up to the plate when push comes to shove. It was a monster hit and it’s a fantastic pirate movie for the modern age. Maybe even the definitive one.
The Lost Pirate Kingdom
This Netflix series is also based in the (you guessed it) golden age of pirating. It tells the historical stories of famous pirates like Blackbeard, Anne Bonny and Black Sam Bellamy. It combines scripted scenes with interviews from experts, so you’ll get your historical fix as well.
It’s narrated by Derek Jacobi and stars James Oliver Wheatley as Blackbeard. It can be a little campy, but if you’re looking for a starting point on pirates this one’s for you.
Here’s one that gets overlooked quite a bit. Crossbones aired on NBC in 2014 and had a pretty novel premise; what if instead of dying, Blackbeard became a secret leader in the Caribbean.
Casting John Malkovich as Blackbeard led to a unique portrayal where he’s not crazy pirate, but more calculated leader who does whatever is necessary to get his point across and his goals met.
He rules a conglomerate of thieves and outlaws which include Richard Coyle as Tom Lowe, Claire Foy as Kate Balfour, Chris Perfetti as Tim Fletch, David Hoflin as Charles Rider, Yasmine Al Massri as Selima El Sharad, and Tracy Ifeachor as Nenna Ajanlekoko.
We’ve talked about a lot of classics on this list, here’s one that’s basically a relic. Captain Blood was one of the first talking films that was also a huge budget production. It starred the legend Errol Flynn and eventual Sherlock Holmes Basil Rathbone.
The movie was a smash and made a star out of Flynn. It’s the predecessor of the modern blockbuster and paved the way for a number of movies that would succeed it. It had romance, startling action scenes, and a whole lot of sword fighting.
Flynn, by the way, was the George Clooney of his day, so if that helps underline just how popular this movie was when it came out, so be it. The common colloquial phrase “in like Flynn” is based on the actor.
If you’re a pirate movie completionist, then this one should definitely be on the list.
I know what you’re thinking. The Goonies isn’t a pirate movie at all. It is, though. It’s a take on the genre through the eyes of 1980s filmmaking, and it’s also a love letter to it. Starring some of the most popular kid actors from the era, it’s a well-thought out and exciting movie that has a little bit of everything for everyone.
The premise is pretty simple; a group of kids want to take on a company that wants to raze their homes and put up a country club. Fortunately, the kids find a treasure map in the attic and they follow it to a mammoth underground cavern where pirates have put up numerous obstacles to dissuade anyone from finding the treasure.
It’s widely considered a classic by many today, and it was one of the top-grossing films of 1985. The movie’s legacy continues today, and it’s one of the benchmark vibes for the hit Netflix show Stranger Things, which also features a group of misfit youths dealing with something way bigger than kids should ever have to deal with in real life.