I was prepared to see the fifth instalment Pirates of the Caribbean as a family day out type film, I knew this wasn’t a film to be taken seriously and as such attempted to be more relaxed in my viewing. However, while my family were entertained, I could not say the same as I watched the films own inevitable shipwreck.
Before we collide into the negative, Pirates of the Caribbean admittedly has certain elements that certainly live up to its predecessors. The selling point of these films has always been Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow who is still the same trickster as we remember him. His voice strongly has gotten a lot more slurred than previously and I believe the responsibility of that is the amount of freedom that Johnny Depp has with his character, you can tell from his performance that it is a very open performance with quips that feel improvised.
Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth is very much the performance glue in the film, she looked as if she was trying to salvage a decent performance whilst also getting paid millions, if anyone earned their paycheck in the film it’s her. Her character also is given a semi-clever background which will have to go unspoiled here, but what I can say is that this background does make the film more involving and gives us a different side to another character that we haven’t seen before.
Now then, what could have happened in this film that turns one of Disney’s most unique franchises into pantomime quality? Most the films events is built upon layers and layers of exposition, with each piece of it going off to different story lines. There is no central or focused narrative. Admittedly, it’s not hard to pinpoint what each of the character’s desire and that the trident of Poseidon will fix that, but that’s only because the audience is told what each of them wants to their faces.
If I remember correctly from my time as a student studying screenwriting, the first lesson I was taught about characters is to show not tell. Which is why the reveal of Carina’s background is a more emotionally responsive moment than the rest of the film. An audience figuring out the mystery packs more punch that the film telling us, something writer Jeff Nathanson clearly forgot.
If I was angered my one thing it would be the treatment of Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar. This is an actor with a resume of stunning performances of villainous characters, from No Country for Old Men to Skyfall, to see him play a character like Salazar is degrading to say the least. We know he can play villains magnificently, so is his performance as Salazar so amateur? The character’s motive of good old-fashioned revenge is so simple, there is no complexity to his revenge just that Jack pulled a fast one on him and now he’s out to kill him, that’s it.
Another element to Salazar is the CGI used to create his ghostly figure. When I first saw it in the trailer I thought it was terrible but consolidated myself into thinking once the film was released it would be more polished, but I was wrong. It’s was just as awful as I remembered. The ghostly effect, especially his head, is very unnerving and strange, it seems to move of its own accord like a bobble head.
The Curse of the Black Pearls combination of practical and computer generated effects blended together so that our eyes wouldn’t be distracted from the importance of the films narrative, yet in Dead Men Tel No Tales, and in previous instalment, the filmmakers have given in to CGI for its cheaper value and more possibilities. I’m sorry, but with a budget of 230 million dollars is the most expensive film franchise in cinematic history, you’d expect a bit of authentic grandeur from the film.
I’ve talked about the stories tell not show approach, but now we delve into the juicy stuff, the narrative itself. I felt that the narrative never has any urgency for completion, we’re supplies with why these characters want, but there is no given amount of time for the characters to get to what they want. At least Dead Man’s Chest gave characters an allotted amount of time to fulfil what they want, whereas Dead Men Tell No Tales drops any sort of narrative emergency.
The only reason I can think of to justify seeing this film is to entertain the children, where they can see Johnny Depp being as funny as we remember him., but where does that leave the rest of us who enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean when it first hit our screens? To see a franchise fall is saddening, but to see it being turned into a money-making machine with no respect for franchise continuity or the film business itself is deeply infuriating.
Final Result: 2/10 – Very Poor
* I know in the UK It’s Salazar’s Revenge, but Dead Men Tell no Tales was the original title, and I prefer that title.
Have you seen Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Wonder Woman