By Rachel Stuplich
Yo, Ho, Ho, and A Plot Over Done
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
A Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures release made by Walt Disney Pictures, partnered by Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Based on Pirates of the Caribbean by Walt Disney, with characters created by Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, and Jay Wolpert. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Story by Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio. Screenplay by Jeff Nathanson. Directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg.
Captain Jack Sparrow – Johnny Depp
Captain Salazar – Javier Bardem
Captain Hector Barbossa – Geoffrey Rush
Henry Turner – Brenton Thwaites
Carina Smyth – Kaya Scodelario
Kevin McNally – Gibbs
Run Time: 2 hours and 9 minutes (129 minutes)
While good ol’ Captain Jack Sparrow is always good for a laugh, this movie disappoints when compared to its original. The film “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” released by Walt Disney Pictures with Jerry Bruckheimer Films, is an action movie set once again at sea and is the fifth movie initially based on the Disneyland theme park ride of the same name. It is once again starring the eccentric Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, one of the few characters that threads through all five films.
While the film is truly entertaining, it falls flat when compared to some of the first movies, especially the first and second. Ultimately it is lack-luster, a little lazy from a writing standpoint, and predictable.
“Pirates of the Caribbean,” really defined the pirate action drama and made more clear-cut guidelines to really seat themselves at the head of a table they created. This movie and its Caribbean predecessors do not feel well-described when saying “action movie” or “action drama.” They seem to require a genre all their own: pirate-action. That being said, they may have defined their own rules a little too steadfastly, the film feels formulaic and derivative of the first films. Being fifth in a series, this probably should not come as a shock.
The plot, too, comes as no shock: There is a magical item that is needed to fix some sort of problem; Jack is being haunted by a mistake made before the film’s opening; and a supernatural villain wants to make Jack pay for said mistake. Truly, it has been the plot of these films since day one, but this time we have two new characters that seem to have been cast with the explicit intention of looking just like the original romantic couple from the first three films. While these young actors give a decent performance, the addition of them to appeal to a romance angle just comes off as lazy.
In this particular movie, Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) needs to find Poseidon’s trident to free his father. Jack and his crew, along with Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), agree to help because it gets revenge hungry Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) off their backs. It is basically the same formula as always. That being said, the plot is tried and true, and of course, all the dynamics and plot progressions work well together. These writers got good at writing the same movie with interchangeable parts.
The movie is completely entertaining. But, another issue that seems to be borrowed from all franchises nowadays is the length. Films now often do not start their plots until a half hour in noticeably stalling the climax to hit the two hour mark. This film is no different. It does not need the length and the audience have a sense of “alright, how far in are we and how much do we have left?”
Javier Bardem’s performance, per usual, is great, considering what he had to work with. His character design is unique, as are the characters of this franchise. But, his characterization of ghost pirate is fresh for the franchise. Using a CGI technique to make his hair float constantly, the practical effect of black tar bubbling from his mouth, deepens the understanding that character designers know what they are doing here. By no means is this movie needed to solidify Bardem within the world of acting. But, it certainly speaks to his ability, as an actor, to fit within a more mainstream role than he had in the past. Bardem and the always great Geoffrey Rush (Barbossa) really saved this movie for me.
Now, I know this is going to grind a lot of people’s gears, but the once funny and irreverent character that is Jack Sparrow was almost as much of a letdown as Johnny Depp in recent years. Jack gets himself into more and more unbelievable situations the further down the franchise rabbit hole we go; these plot points are becoming almost unbelievably insulting. The first films had Jack working his way hilariously through ridiculous, but believable situations. Now, Jack is a caricature of himself in these films rather than a real character. That being said, there were some moments that really humanized Jack, even if there were some unnerving CGI in those flashbacks.
While I would be lying if I said I didn’t like this movie, I physically rolled my eyes at several points during the movie. The moments that drag the movie down to make it an enjoyable, but, ultimately missable installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise are moments where Jack does something that isn’t reasonable, even for him (like pulling a whole building on horses); moments that are almost completely recycled from previous movies; and Johnny Depp’s performance and characterization of Captain Jack Sparrow in general. The film is just a let down, but what more can audiences expect with those many sequels?