I Write These Movie Reviews Locked in the Trunk of Your Car. Thanks for the Snacks!!
Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg
The fact that you feel like you’ve seen it all before should be no surprise after the 5th entry of a franchise. POTC: Dead Men Tell No Tales doesn’t really add or subtract anything to the Pirates franchise, except to end the Depp-led saga on a more-or-less positive note after the mediocre On Stranger tides left most hoping that the series would end rather that churn out more mediocre sequels.
There’s a feeling of ennui that pervades the entire running time of Dead Men, almost as if the filmmakers, from a bored-to-death Depp, to the FX heavy action scenes that look like outtakes of Curse of the Black Pearl. Even the monkey looks like he’s cashing it in.
That’s not to say that Dead Men is a bad movie. It just feels so…recycled. With a $350 million budget, you see every cent onscreen, but there are times when you just don’t care. Been there, done that. You said that back in 2011. If you really want to get your nostalgia fix on, watch Twin Peaks. If you go in thinking Dead Men Tell No Tales will tell a tale you haven’t (Amber) heard before, you’ll be as disappointed with the movie as you will be with Orlando Bloom’s screen time.
I’ve always thought that the Pirates movies had overly convoluted plots that unnecessarily bloated the films into the 2.5 hour range. Dead Men is no different.
Pirates 5 (now to be referred to as P5) opens with little Henry Turner summoning his father Will (Orlando Bloom, happy to be working) because he really missed his dad but it’s not very often you can’t learn the birds and the bees from your dad because he was cursed to take over Davy Jones’ job ferrying the dead back and forth forever and you only get to see your kid 3 days every 10 years. Little Henry vows to get his dad back. Orlando Bloom hopes to get his career back.
9 years later, grown up Henry (Brenton Thwaites) is still hoping to break his dad’s curse and now knows that something called The Trident of Poseidon will break all curses from the sea. That’s very convenient.
You can be sure that this MacGuffin will be very hard to find. Except, it’s a great excuse for the mini-Turner to enlist in Captain Jack’s (Johnny Depp, NGAF) help, along with a possible love interest in Corina Smith (Kaya Scodelario), a witch, um, astronomer, um, horologist.
Oh yeah, there’s the vengeful Captain Salazar, (Javier Bardem, chewing scenery while buried under millions of dollars in special FX) who has a backstory bone to pick with everyone’s favorite Captain.
Not to mention, Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush), who’s in this movie because he’s in all the other movies.
Again, the plot’s a lot more drawn-out than this, but there came a point when I didn’t really care, and since we’re in movie 5, writers Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio don’t care. Neither should you.
What Works With Dead Men Tell No Tales
- After 5 movies, Geoffrey Rush finally gets out of Captain Jack’s hammy spotlight by giving the best performance in the movie and his best performance since Curse of the Black Pearl. Rush’s Barbosa is given more of a character to play with actual stakes involved. Rush’ subtlety is a nice contrast to the very expensive bells and whistles all the actors seem to be playing against.
- An early action sequence with Captain Jack literally robbing a bank is the most fun of the movie, but it will remind you of how the sequence was done so much better in The Curse of the Black Pearl.
- Captain Salazar recalling a very young Jack Sparrow is the only great/original scene in a very derivative movie. As you watch it, you recall the best parts of the early movies of the franchise. When it ends, you realize how directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg needed to make more of the movie like it.
- It’s better than On Stranger Tides…so there’s that.
What Doesn’t Work With Dead Men Tell No Tales
- A bland, charisma free performance by Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner makes you long for Orlando Bloom. Say what you will about where his career has gone in movies without the words “Lord of the Rings” or “Pirates” in the title, Bloom had a screen presence where Thwaites has only a blank stare at this stage in his career.
- Johnny Depp, phoning it in- to be sure P5 is the only Pirates movie that doesn’t have Captain Jack as the planet in which everything else revolves, but it still doesn’t mask that Depp is clearly bored with playing Jack Sparrow again. I sat through most of P5 lamenting about how Depp’s divorce with Amber Heard must have really hit his finances hard if he’s doing another Pirates. His heart isn’t in it, and neither is the audiences’.
- The teased possibility of another Pirates movie. Let it die, savvy?
Dead Men Tell No Tales is a big, loud, mixed bag of a sequel. Not that it’ll matter to the core fans of the series or to folks with deeply dampened expectations, but for casual fans looking for anything wet during this Memorial Day Weekend might have a better time at Baywatch. Go figure.
Over 500 underage children have worked on this film 20 hours a day for months on end without rest or food for the Disney empire. Don’t download this so the Disney conglomerate can overcharge for their flimsy Blu-Rays with ads that run longer than the movie.