Is there a series with more severe dimensioning returns than Pirates? We are ten years past the last film in the series that was even considered passable, and fourteen since the only movie that was actually great. But hey, Johnny has alimony payments and these films somehow still make more money than all the gold on Treasure Island. So here we are with the 5th Pirates of The Caribbean film, which despite no-one asking for or wanting, everyone will end up dragging themselves to the theaters for anyway.
At this point the franchise has long since gone rotten, and Dead Men Tell No Tales is the moldy fish scraped from the barrels bottom. Captain Jack Sparrow is back, but far from the Oscar nominated performance of the past, Depp has all the charm of a fifty year old man in the midst of a nasty divorce and domestic violence accusations trying to earn a paycheck. Lazy, stupid, and an afterthought in his own film, Sparrow has had his wings clipped. And that’s not even bringing up the ghastly cgi abomination that’s supposed to be his twenty year old self.
The plot itself suffers from a number of huge problems, most notably from a severe case of “were making this shit up as we go along.” Focusing on a search for the mythical Trident of Poseidon, a hidden weapon capable of controlling the seas and breaking any curse, the biggest question is where the fuck this trident was in the previous four films. Same goes for the ghostly Captain Salazar the famous Spanish Pirate Hunter who defeated legions of swashbucklers and whose reign of terror directly influenced Jack becoming a captain.
Why is it five films in before we hear about any of this? Well, because Disney already used up all the good seafaring villains and now have to pull this plot contrivances out of their barnacled covered asses to justify making another movie.
Beyond brief cameos, we also are once again left without Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan. Say what you will about the two, but they were a better pair than the sorry lot were given here in their son Henry Turner (how he appears to be in his mid twenties when Turner and Swan first hooked up about ten years ago I have no idea, but fuck it, if the filmmakers don’t care I don’t either) and Carina Smyth, one of the sorriest excuses for a heroine in recent memory.
Written with all the subtly of a Freshman Liberal Arts Major who just took his first women’s study class, it’s other characters reaction to Smyth that grow most tiresome. Yes, I know having two X chromosomes and and education were a rarity at the time Pirates is set, but after she proves adept at sword fighting, astrology, horology, and a mishmash of whatever other traits are useful for the plot, Carina becomes a trope rather than a character, and a poor substitute for the sorely missed Swan.
It’s getting hard to find more to talk about with these films; after 14 years and an increasingly pitiful batch of sequels, there’s only so much to complain about. But Dead Men Tell No Tales is the worse of the bunch, a water logged mess, and hopefully the final nail in this franchises coffin. Maybe now we can send it out to sea. 3/10
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