In a discussion with some friends before seeing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (hereby named POTC5 for the sake of time and space), I was asked how I base my reviews. I believe my answer is grounded and fair: 1) What was the movie trying to be? 2) How did it measure up to what it tried to be? 3) Is it entertaining? My biggest issue with a most critical reviews is most critics judge almost every movie the exact same way, but I believe not every movie is going to be a groundbreaking Oscar contendor.
What does all of that have to do with POTC5? Nothing at all, just writing down what my mindset was going into the movie. How does it stand up?
I would it 4 “ways to not do a soft reboot” out of 10.
FOR THE UNITIATED
POTC5 starts out with a young Henry Turner sinking himself and landing on a sunken ship, which ends up being the Flying Dutchman. After William Turner (Orlando Bloom) tells his son that he cannot be a part of the crew and to never hang out with Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp); Henry promises to free his father of the curse.
Flash forward 10 years later, we see Jack Sparrow with his usual band of pirates pulling a safe stunt straight from Fast 5 … except with horses … and they end up pulling the entire bank. There is also Carina Smyth, a supposedly brilliant woman who is convicted of being a witch due to her intelligence. Of course there is also Henry Turner, he happens to be on a boat that goes into the Devil’s Triangle against his warnings. They are attacked by a ghost ship led by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem).
To summarize the rest of the convoluted plot: everyone wants to get the mythical Poseidon’s Trident aside from the ghost sailors who want revenge against Captain Jack Sparrow. Throw in the British Navy with a new officer who is of no consequence, Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush), and a criminally underused Captain William Turner (Orlando Bloom).
The best part of the movie is Barbosa, who I would argue is the best part of any Pirates movie he has graced with his presence. He perfectly emanates what the common consensus is for a pirate of that time. He uses accent made famous by Long John Silver, has a peg leg by the start of POTC5, an animal sidekick that sits on his shoulder, and is just a cool character overall. He seemed to be the only character to have a foreward thinking plan since everyone else was going by the seat of their pants at best. Captain Hector Barbosa is the epitome of the cinematic pirate captain, he even flourishes as a pirate captain having an entire fleet while Jack crashes and burns.
The worst aspect is the horrible attempt at a soft reboot. The newcomers, Henry and Carina, were carbon copies of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann didn’t have any of the charisma of the original cast. The new villains, Salizar and his ghost sailors, were mirrors of the skeleton pirates who also had a vendetta against Jack Sparrow. Speaking of which, Jack Sparrow was a cartoon of himself compared to the other movies. He didn’t even seem to stumble into his planned result this time … he just stumbled a lot.
There was more bad than good, hence the 4/10. The good was very enjoyable for what it was. The comedy was great and it was fun to revisit a few old characters … but the bad was just BAD. Barely missing out on the worst part of POTC5 is the special effects. The final fight scene looks like it was done on a green screen several years ago and ruined the final set piece in my opinion. If you liked the other Pirates of the Caribbeans, then see this in theatres so you can enjoy it on the big screen with a great sound system. Otherwise, wait until you can get it on Redbox.
If you liked Barbose being a successful pirate captain with a fleet of ships, then let me tell you about one of the greatest pirate captains … the great DREAD PIRATE ROBERTS! The Princess Bride is a great fantasy movie with swashbuckling, giants, monsters, and romance. It is one of the great movies that can appeal to all generations and demographics. If you haven’t seen it, I believe it is on Netflix or is worth tracking down and watching.