Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is another cynical and predictable entry into a series in desperate need of new direction.
Director: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg
Summary: Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon.
When the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out in 2003 it was a fun little movie with some entertaining performances. It also became a smash hit which meant that we got a sequel and then a third movie. When it was confirmed that ⅔'s of the main cast wasn't interested in doing a fourth it seemed like the series was over. However, Disney decided we needed a fourth movie and moved Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow into the role of being the main character instead of the sidekick. It didn't work in the last movie and it doesn't work here. The schtick that Depp is selling with Sparrow was running thin by the middle of the overly long third movie but by now it's just irritating. There isn't anything endearing about watching Depp stumble around mumbling to the point where you need subtitles.
The script tries to make Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina (Kaya Scodelario) pick up the slack as the two "straight men" to Sparrow craziness but it never commits to it. The movie is still all about Sparrow so it makes the presence of Henry and Carina feel extremely perfunctory as it contrived reasons to come back to the two of them. The movie clearly doesn't really care about them and it's jarring whenever it switches back to them like they are the new Will and Elizabeth. Thwaites and Scodelario are doing their best to make their paper thin characters interesting, and Scodelario is at least somewhat successful, but a late-in-the-game plot twist involving her is head scratching. It is the kind of character charting that makes sense to studio heads but not the real world. All it does is make what should feel like a world as vast and endless feel as the ocean feel as small and insignificant as a pond.
This kind of narrative might be interesting if there was something worth watching going on on screen. Javier Bardem is trying mightily to make his Captain Salazar a terrifying presence but it never really fits. He is ruthless and the effects that make it look like he is always under water are interesting but you never buy him as the villain. He has decent motives but they are motives that, once again, come down to something Jack Sparrow did. There are so many people in the world and the ocean is so vast. How is it that every, single character that has a curse on them is somehow connected to Jack Sparrow? If there was a decent action scene or two you might be able to forgive that but they are the same ship battles we've seen before. There is a "parting of the red seas" moment that could have been interesting but they don't do anything interesting with it.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is part of a series that is in desperate need of either some new blood, new ideas or perhaps an ending. There is an after-credits scene that teases yet another movie but unless it is a soft reboot with entirely new characters it might be time to put Jack Sparrow out to sea.
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