So I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales…
This past summer was one of Hollywood’s lowest grossing in over a decade. I on average – the last two years withstanding – visit the cinema about 100 times a year (I’ve counted). So it’s fair to say that I’m more than a little obsessed with movies but this year I’ve only brought myself to visit the cinema about twenty times. If I’m feeling the sequel and remake fatigue so heavily, I don’t even want to imagine what the casual movie-goer must be experiencing.
Okay, basic plot: Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) is desperate to free his father from the curse of being The Dutchman’s captain. Henry learns of a legend that Poisedon’s Trident is capable of breaking any curse made on the sea. Henry journeys to find it but first searches for Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) – the exact swashbuckler who Henry knows can help him on his quest. The years, however, are beginning to take their toll on Jack and he’s far from the pirate he used to be. But when an old enemy of his resurfaces in the form of Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem), Sparrow realises that finding the Trident may be his only way to survive.
I remember watching the first Pirates of the Carribean film all the way back in 2003. I had a blast! The film was original, funny, exciting, had cool action and Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow was a revelation. Fast-forward, fourteen years later and the film has somehow managed to do away with everything that made the original such a success. I think this film is the epitome of what the public is starting to hate about sequels – they’re lazy, lack the heart of the original, have nonsensical stories and actors who are only committed to the project in order to lace their pockets.
I logged out of this movie very early on, in fact, during its first action sequence I was ready to press stop. Dead Men Tell No Tales attempts to recreate a scene from the fifth Fast and Furious movie to disastrous effect. It’s actually strange because when I watched the original scene in Fast Five, I loved it and someone told me they hated because they couldn’t wrap their mind around the mechanics of the action. I now understand exactly what that person meant. If you show someone something unbelievable and give them enough time to dissect and ponder what they’ve just seen, they’ll find the holes in it. BUT if you show someone something unbelievable then a string of other unbelievable acts wrapped up in a bow of awesome, their brain doesn’t have time to settle and you can get away with almost anything. Dead Men Tell No Tales consistently gives you too much time to sit and find the numerous holes in its story and action.
It’s clearly evident that this series of films and its filmmakers have run of out ideas. There’s no next level to take the action or the story to; so they’ve resigned themselves to rehashing the past. So once again Jack is being chased by a supernatural enemy. Once again he’s drunk on Rum. Once again him and Barbosa team up. Once again there are double crosses. Once again there are triple crosses. Once again. Once again! ONCE AGAIN! The only good movie in this franchise was the first installment, ever since they’ve struggled and failed to recreate the magic.
I don’t know what it is with movies lately but too many of them feel a need to connect everything – even if the connection makes no sense and/or adds nothing to the story. Remember that villain from the first movie? He was actually the hero’s father. The villain from the second movie? Oh he played poker with your dad on Wednesdays. The villain in this movie? You cut in front of him in line when you were six and he vowed revenge against you. Why can’t we have original villains? I actually know the answer to this. Screenwriters realise that they’ve drafted thin plots with characters that you can’t connect with. So instead of improving the characters, they add an unnecessary connection to force drama.
Another area this film fails in is its acting. The version of Jack Sparrow we see in this film is weathered, beaten-down and a shell of the pirate he once was. I don’t know if the script called for this change or if no one could convince Johnny Depp to shed his apathetic performance so Sparrow had to completely rewritten. It’s obvious that Depp is tired of playing this role and I can’t think of a single reason he continues to do it. Maybe it’s the $50 million paycheque…I guess this will just remain one of life’s many mysteries. The acting doesn’t get any better as you cycle through the cast.
Geoffrey Bush also has character fatigue and his performance is just as stale as Depp’s. Newcomers, Brenton Thwaiter and Kaya Scodelario who are effectively the new Will and Elizabeth can’t even meet the exceptionally low bar that Depp sets for acting in this film. The two are meant to have chemistry, passion but their love story had me longing for the stilted dialogue between Ana and Christian in Fifty Shades Darker. Hollywood heavy-hitter, Javier Bardem is another new addition to the cast and he somehow manages to bring even less quality than Thwaiter and Scodelario. His performance here reminded me a great deal of his work in Skyfall. You feel like he could be a terrifying and menacing villain but every time he has the opportunity to shine he makes the wrong acting choice and ends up shooting himself in the foot.
I actually can’t believe how bad this movie is.
Overall, I wish this movie was a tale that no man had ever told. It’s poor in every respect. The only good thing about it is that its shorter than its predecessor but even with this truncated runtime, it still manages to conjure the same feelings of impatience for its end. I think this franchise needs to be retired and return to its roots in Disney Land. 3/10