Johnny Depp is back for a fifth voyage as the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow to swash some buckles in a new adventure.
Something something rum, something something curse, something something trident about sums up the plot of the latest Disney nautical adventure in a perfect example of trying too hard for too little.
Depp returns to the role that made him a household name for a certain generation. In a fascinating turn of events it seems reality and fiction have become mirrors to one another. What was once a fun, charismatic character has become an unlikable caricature of himself. Like Depp himself, we used to like Jack Sparrow. He was just crazy enough, just drunk enough, just talented enough, just clever enough and just lucky enough to waltz straight into our hearts and imaginations. Alas, 2003 was a long time ago now. This Jack is sullen, bumbling, sloshed and sodden, reduced to trying to swindle his few remaining crew members, screwing up a brilliant bank robbery, and willing to part with his most precious of effects for a drink. He’s no fun at all.
The new cast is serviceable, if a bit familiar – Brenton Thwaites is certainly believable as Will Turner’s son, and Kaya Scodelario is the spunky new version of Elizabeth Swan. Javier Bardem‘s villain is better than most blockbusters’ these days, but that’s not really saying much, honestly. Barbosa is still the king of cinematic pirate villains in my book, yet here (despite a strong performance by Geoffrey Rush) they go and water down his character with soap opera worthy revelations that taint the memory of a truly chilling and tragic undead sea captain. Scodelario’s Carina is a clunky heroine meant to champion some sort of feminist message that gets lost amongst an onslaught of shoehorns.
The plot and the action push this Pirates movie squarely into comic book superhero territory – but not in a good way. Feats that laugh in the face of both logic and gravity push the cobbled together plot forward. The story relies on no less than dozens of contrived and unlikely scenarios coming together while plot holes gape larger than the mouths of ghost sharks.
From the opening action sequence that boldly rips off the climax of Fast Five, all the way to the Marvel-esque post credits teaser at the end, Dead Men tells no tale of enjoyment. It’s devoid of any real energy, becoming a parody of itself that doesn’t know how to recapture the magic of the original. But it tries. So, so hard.
Speaking of the post credits teaser – it makes no real sense whatsoever and, after introducing us to brand new characters, seems to imply that “just kidding, this is actually going to be Orlando Bloom‘s story again!” Assuming a sixth film gets made, it’s going to be one crazy muddled something fest.
If this was the first in a franchise, I might be intrigued. It might seem like there were interesting places for these characters to go, and they could develop into something special. Of course, we already had all that five movies ago and I don’t think number six will be the answer. Just let this franchise go already – it will get a reboot in twenty years anyway.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“It was just too much.” (Note – The Curse of the Black Pearl is Mrs. Hamster’s favorite movie)
Brother Hamster says:
“Plot holes on plot holes but still pretty entertaining. Also why Paul McCartney, why?”
My rating: Two out of five hats
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales sails into 4,276 theaters, including IMAX 3D, May 26