So what we’ve gathered here is that Dead Men Tell No Tales……. unfortunately that doesn’t seem to translate over to dead franchises, or in this case a ‘should be dead’ franchise…….. After the disaster that was the fourth film in the franchise, i was hopeful here that maybe this could be a return to form. With the bringing in of new directors, a new writer, and a villain played by the ever so chilling Javier Bardem this could have been the turnaround they needed….. but oh how it wasn’t. So, you have a small handful of successfully comical moments in here, there is a little sprinkle of a couple of fun, briefly exciting sequences, plus the theme music and visuals are as always incredible. Also admittedly, Johnny Depp still plays Jack Sparrow pretty well to the point where his character is basically the only real standout. But despite all that this movie is still not good, the entire supporting cast i couldn’t get behind and add very little in terms of humour. Bardem’s villain did look cool but was too back and forth between somewhat serious and just overly campy. And the story….. oh boy just wait til i get to talking about that.
So beginning with the good, visually this film is fantastic….. the special effects of all of the ships, the destruction, the villainous characters, it’s all very well done and doesn’t take you out of the film at all. There was one moment early in the film where the touch ups were little visible but forgivable in the wider scope of the film. Also the effects used to show a younger Johnny Depp for one sequence were just ok, it’s technology that is still progressing so for now it’s a little touch and go. And then you have that key bit of the Pirates of the Caribbean score that every single person on this planet can recognise, and the can recognise it because it is awesome. When the score does kick in (which it does a few times throughout the film) it brings with it some of the classic Pirates fun that seems to be pretty much lost now. But it does make the scenes it is applied to somewhat more enjoyable. And then you have Johnny Depp as the loveable idiot Jack Sparrow who he portrays so damn well. He is funny when he needs to be and contains the entire spirit of this franchise within him. Not all of the humour associated with him works, however i feel like that has something more to do with the writing as oppose to the delivery.
The supporting cast of new and old character are really not great, i don’t think it has a whole lot to do with their performances it’s just that the characters were poorly written. The comedy driven supporting roles weren’t given much good content, and the roles more integral to the plot weren’t strong or interesting enough to warrant getting behind them. Youngsters Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites did a fine job where they could and i hope they get more work in the future as any issues there i wouldn’t put on them.
Now you get to the overall story, and this is where the entire film completely unravels in phenomenally epic fashion. Featuring; a pointless out of left field side-plot, poorly defined character motivations and goals, large chunks of the film where jack shit happens, stupidly annoying amounts of convenience, an ending you expect but don’t care about, backstory sequences that last too fucking long, and a pointless focus on appearances that came 10 years too late. Firstly, there is a side-plot in this film that is random as fuck, tries to rewrite a characters’ past, doesn’t show up until around 3/4 of the way through and serves the purpose of trying to make you care about one brief moment in the climax of the film. It was dumb and a lazy way of getting you invested in a certain character. So, for the entire film four parties are all searching for the ‘MacGuffin’, that object that seems to solve everyones problems, and conveniently, everyone who is looking for this object seems to always run into each other at the perfect moments. Right now, i can tell you why 2 of the 4 main parties are looking for this thing, the others i actually have no idea why….. it isn’t defined well in the film and thus makes their entire journey without motivation seem pointless.
Speaking of motivation…… why was Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa in this film????? Oh right, because god help the filmmakers if they remove a key character because he doesn’t fit well within the story. He really has no real important purpose in the film other than to be used as a default reason for help or a reason for conflict, and it just feels like he was shoehorned in because what’s Pirates without Barbossa right???? And there is this whole big hurrah about the stupid compass Sparrow has been carrying through all the films that hasn’t been bought up in the previous films and isn’t even explained here. It does something other than tell you what you want most and why it does what it does isn’t explained or eluded to in the slightest…. like the writers went ‘hey, we need this to happen soooooooo yeh, that’ll do it’…… stupid. The entire second act of this film is very lacklustre, not a whole lot of excitement is happening and it’s more or less a constant Tom and Jerry cat and mouse chase but like if Tom and Jerry were tortoises. It just seemed like they were repeating the same sequence of events again and again just to get to the big climax.
And if what is getting you excited about seeing this film is the return of Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom as Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner…. then i say lower expectations by like a lot. Their roles in the film are, well, pretty pointless for the story being told here. Part of me was like “you know what, it’d be pretty cool to see what these great characters are up to now” and then when you do you realise you don’t care anymore and you stopped caring 10 years ago. In terms of humour, the film wasn’t that funny, there are moments sprinkled throughout that get a decent laugh but overall the element of fun was kinda missing. Similarly in terms of fun and exciting action/adventure sequences there were maybe 2 that were successful in feeling like the Pirates of old, but only one sequence was actually memorably enjoyable, the rest was just meh.
Well it may have seemed like i just tore this film a new asshole but really the vast majority of its problems lie within the story, pacing, and supporting characters. There are elements of humour that work, and some action/adventure elements that are briefly enjoyable, also the use of the classic music helped, and the visuals were very stunning. If you are a big fan of the franchise as a whole, obviously there is a lot you are going to get out of this, but i feel with the disaster that was ‘On Stranger Tides’ (2011) and with the underwhelming result of this film i’m not too keen on seeing more of this franchise. And the post credits scene hinting at what is to come in the next instalment kinda cemented the fact that i really don’t care about this franchise….. but it makes a lot of money so i’ll see you when number 6 arrives.