If you’ve been following the Pirates Of the Caribbean franchise since the first movie, The Curse Of The Black Pearl, was released in 2003, you’ll notice that the latest and fifth one has a lot of similarites with the previous four films.
Subtitled Salazar’s Revenge here but known as Dead Men Tell No Tales in other parts of the world, POTC5 has a story that is long, convoluted and ultimately forgettable (no, really, how much do you remember of the previous films’ stories?), there’s some kind of fantastical myth and impossible magic involved, there’s a colourless and bland young couple who are central to the story, there’s a grotesque villain inflicted with a terrible case of over-CGI-tis, and there are crazy action sequences that defy all logic and common sense.
At the centre of it all is a certain pirate called Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who pretty much just bungles around willy-nilly, somehow managing to remain in the eye of the storm, unharmed, no matter what happens around him.
This time around, Jack is pursued by an old nemesis, Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem), also known as the Butcher of the Sea, who captains the fearsome ship Silent Mary. Salazar is a Spanish pirate hunter determined to kill every single pirate at sea, but was outfoxed by a young Jack (a CGI de-aged Depp) and trapped in the Devil’s Triangle, condemned to an undead curse.
Salazar escapes, of course (how else is he going to get his revenge?), and now Jack’s only hope of defeating him is the Trident of Poseidon, a giant fork, sorry, powerful artefact that grants its possessor total control over the seas (whatever that means, because none of the characters seem to know either).
Helping him on his quest is Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the grown-up son of the cursed-to-remain-at-sea-forever Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) from the first three movies, who is determined to free his father from the curse of the Flying Dutchman at any cost.
There’s also “woman of science” Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), an astronomer and horologist (hur hur) who has a Map That No Man Can Read (but a woman can, apparently), which leads to the Trident. Oh, and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) shows up as well, obviously.
As far as POTC movies go, this is hardly the worst of the lot. At the very least, it isn’t as bad as POTC4, On Stranger Tides (my memory of which has washed out with the tide), and is more on par with the second and third ones in terms of entertainment value. That, unfortunately, isn’t saying much, seeing as how pointless Dead Man’s Chest (POTC2) and how messily complicated At World’s End (POTC3) were.
In POTC5, the story just sort of lurches from one set piece to another, with characters popping up seemingly at random to move things along (there’s even a witch whose scenes just involve her telling people where to find Jack), and pointless scenes being shoehorned in for the sake of cheap laughs (there’s a rather cringe-worthy and unfunny bit involving a Jack and a wedding that just … happens, and is never spoken of again).
Then again, that’s what you get for creating an entire movie franchise that is so utterly reliant on a single drunk pirate captain.
There is no doubt that Jack Sparrow is an iconic film character, but the character who made the first film such an entertaining watch has overstayed his welcome as the franchise drags on.
While POTC2 and POTC3 still managed to keep the Sparrow flying somewhat, POTC4 was proof that there is only so much Depp can do on his own.
POTC5 tries to remedy this by bringing back the whole Turner/Swann angle and by expanding the character’s backstory a little, but there is still too much reliance on drunken Jack antics to move things along, which can be tiresome in a movie that clocks in at 2 hours 33 minutes.
A couple of weeks ago, a bunch of online pirates threatened to carve up the new Pirates Of The Carribbean movie and feed it to the Internet if their ransom was not met (it wasn’t).
To tell the truth, carving up the movie probably would have improved things quite a bit. As it is, POTC5 lives up to the cheerfully nonsensical but fun spirit of the franchise, but you can’t help feeling that it really is time to let the Sparrow rest and enjoy his rum in peace.
Pirates Of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge
Directors: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg
Cast: Johnny Depp, Kevin McNally, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario