Monday, May 29, 2017

Movie Review: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" (2017)

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Director: Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 9 minutes

Henry Turner seeks the help of Jack Sparrow to help him find the trident of Poseidon so he can break his father's curse. Meanwhile, a ghost captain named Salazar seeks to exact revenge on Jack Sparrow, hunting him down in order to make him pay for the ship Jack sunk decades earlier. 

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" is the fifth, yes that's right, the fifth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film. It is the second "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie beyond what anyone ever asked for. It is directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who are new to the franchise. They have directed films like "Kon Tiki," which is quite good, and "Banditas," which we haven't seen, but have heard is awful. Though this film teased a return of the original cast, the only returning major players are once again Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, Geoffrey Rush as Hector Barbossa, and Kevin McNally as Gibbs. New to the cast is Brenton Thwaites, who plays Henry Turner, the now grown up son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. He hopes to find the trident of Poseidon to break his father's curse so he can be free of his shackles as the ferryman of the Flying Dutchman. Also joining Thwaites are Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth, a science-minded woman who the more simple people accuse of being a witch, and Javier Bardem, who plays the Spanish ghost sailor Captain Salazar, who is looking for vengeance on Jack Sparrow for sinking his ship.

One may wonder, as we ourselves have wondered, why the hell is there a fifth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film?! None have received great critical response beyond movie #1, "The Curse of the Black Pearl," and "On Stranger Tides" had a rather lukewarm response from movie goers in addition to panned critical reception. The global box office, however, gave Disney a billion reasons why they should continue the franchise. So here we are once more with Jack Sparrow on another adventure, once again running from a supernatural antagonist, only this time around, it feels like Sparrow has become a caricature of his former self. It doesn't feel like Johnny Depp is just pretending to be a drunk pirate, but may actually be drunk on set as his words slur together far more than ever before. Sparrow has also gone from a quickly adaptable, capable pirate who always seemed like he had a grander plan in mind with a goofy facade to a complete buffoon who achieves anything he does through pure dumb luck.

Movies live and die by their characters. Unfortunately, the newcomers in this installment just aren't captivating enough or written well enough to allow the audience to make a strong connection with them in order to care about their various plights. We don't find Salazar as a villain to be intimidating in the slightest. He literally walks around using his swords as canes saying "JACK THE SPARROW" 7,000 times. And the CGI used to create him, his entire army, and their watery underworld? It's absolutely sub-standard and unacceptable for a movie with a $230 million budget. Henry Turner is not interesting and is not particularly well acted, and though it's a good one-off joke to have a smart woman seen as a witch by ye old-timey simpletons, unfortunately, the gag gets run into the ground over and over and over until it makes it useless and not clever. The stakes never seem that high for any of the characters, especially Salazar and Sparrow, and for much of this film, we found ourselves quite bored. We even checked the time to see how long the movie had been on, figuring the credits would be rolling shortly, only to discover it was a mere 70 minutes into an over 2 hour picture. What abominable pacing. Finally, some may be lured into seeing this fifth installment under the guise and promise of a return of the original cast. Well, we're here to tell you not to get your hopes up because Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley aren't here in any meaningful capacity.

While "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" does manage to have a few good action sequences here and there, as well as brief moments of excitement, overall, this winds up being an extremely unnecessary and very supremely underwhelming affair. The franchise should have been finished one entire movie ago, and as such a blatant summertime cash grab, it's sure to make its money back, but we're not sure why Disney is willing to sacrifice loads of fun, an intriguing premise, and practical effects for dull characters, unfunny dialogue, and poorly made CGI people, places, and things.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~31%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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