Once again Disney sets sail with another installment in the hugely popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. With their fifth film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush reprise their roles as Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa, respectively. Also staring are newcomers to the franchise, Javier Bardem as Armando Salazar, Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner and Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth. Also featuring Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly as Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, following their absence from the fourth installment, On Stranger Tides.
This time around Captain Jack is being pursued by an old nemesis, Captain Salazar, who has escaped from the Devil’s Triangle and is determined to kill Jack along with every pirate at sea. Jack is aided by his new allies Henry and Carina, who must seek out the Trident of Poseidon, a powerful weapon that can stop any sea cruse. All this gives way to an action adventure story that is another solid film in a fun, successful film series.
Leaning way on its laurels and hoping you’ve seen the last four, at least the first three for sure, the movie manages to add to its own mythos while adding a new layer for future films. It’s clear that more films are planned (or at least the creators hope audiences will want more to be made.) Not only have they never answered some questions from previous films, this new movie added new questions that die-hard fans must have answers to. Or at least closure.
Not much to be said about Depp and Rush at this point. When you’ve gotten to the fifth film of a series the actors pretty much have these roles down pat. Rush is always fantastic as Captain Barbossa. In the film, Barbossa has become extremely wealthy, having amassed a fleet of ships under his command and encrusted his peg-leg with many jewels. It’s very funny to see the character and Rush doing things we never would imagine Barbossa doing, but somehow make sense. Rush had some of the better scenes in the film.
Depp…sigh…does what he does. Way over the top in places that somehow never quite connect with the way he acts in other scenes. And people will forgive it because HE’S Captain Jack Sparrow. But, a little goes a long way. When Sparrow isn’t acting like a complete ass, he’s a great movie hero/icon. But when Depp starts doing his “Depp thing” the character can become really annoying and almost unlikable. But then plot happens and you’re back on board. Some points in the movie you feel like Depp is sleeping though the performance, but when he’s on, its pirate gold.
The old cast works well with the new additions, Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario. Especially Thwaites, who reminds you a lot of a young Will Turner from the first movie. Hopefully we will see his character mature as the series goes on. Scodelario works well enough as the female lead/love interest. She has some good moments, but they are far and few between. Her character could have used a few more revisions before filming started, but the final product is by no means terrible. Unlike Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Swann, who from the start was a great fully realized character, here it might take Scoderlario’s character, Carina another film before she’s on that level.
The pirates movie have always had engaging, well-acted villains and this one is no different. Javier Bardem was born to play evil. He’s so good at being bad and here is no exception. Captain Salazar is mean, driven and mad as hell and he isn’t going to take it anymore. After being tricked by a young Sparrow, Salazar has been a ghost with his crew stuck in a limbo state in The Devil’s Triangle, stewing in rage for several years. So once free, he is hell-bent on destroying everything in his wake. And he does. The filmmakers added to his image by making him scary gross looking, a decomposing ghost body, half burnt and rotting. The effect is amazing, and looks great. But when you look at it all you see is money. Lots and lots of money. He looks great and it’s money well spent, but damn.
That can be said for the whole movie. Just so much money being spent. I don’t think there are many actual sets or backgrounds. Everyone and everything has some sort of CGI on it, around it or is it. The amount of CGI is amazing and you understand what a 250 or more million budget looks like. Yes it looks great because you’ve got the A, B, C, D and E teams of effects masters, but I say again…. damn. Sometimes less is more. But not in a Disney pirate movie it’s not!
For the first time in the series Hans Zimmer is not composing the music. One of his protégés, Geoff Zanelli, who helped with the last four pirate films, has taken over for Zimmer. The themes are still there and it sounds like a pirate films, but some of the Zimmer magic was missing. But after four films, perhaps Zimmer said all he has to say or was too busy to do it. He gave the reins to someone he knows and trusts I’m sure. But it’s apparent that it isn’t Zimmer.
Does the film have its flaws? Yes, but none are so bad that they bring down the movie. The pirates films at this point know what they are and how to make them work for the world they have established. Are there long drawn out action scenes that really have no reason to go on as long as they do? Oh yeah. Is Depp becoming a parody of himself in these movies? Yup. Are there so many special effects you can’t keep them all straight within your vision? You betcha! But none of this makes it a bad movie. Flawed sure, but damn enjoyable. Hell, at the end of the day it’s a Pirates of the Caribbean, and we all knew what were getting when we bought the ticket. Pirate fun!