Listen, I’ve given this series a rest after the second installment, Dead Man’s Chest. There seemed to be a cash-grab mentality for the films thereafter, and they weren’t even entertaining. I tried to get through At World’s End. I tried.
Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg try to infuse life into the dead-in-the-water series, telling the tale of Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) and his quest to find Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who may hold the key to helping Turner free his father, Will (Orlando Bloom).
Along the way, we’re introduced to the blue-eyed Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), someone who’s labeled a witch and sent for execution. All three team up to find the one thing that can fend off their dead — literally — opposition: Poseidon’s trident.
There was hope for this film, especially with the undead Spanish Captain Salazar (Bardem). But the rare moments of fun are far and in-between in Dead Men Tell No Tales. This film flexes its large-budget muscles (estimated $230 million) with one of two exciting action set pieces early on: a relatively fun bank heist. Sparrow is reintroduced as a drunk, stumbling out of a vault full of money — oh, and he just shagged a British military man’s wife. So, nothing new here, it seemed.
Here’s the thing: Once you get past the loud explosions and CGI ship battles, this film reveals its thin script and story. Why should we care? Dead Men Tell No Tales never answers that question, but for two hours and nine minutes, we’re forced to follow a Sparrow-led crew that hardly connects with its audience.
However, I found myself chuckling at a few jokes and — uh, well, that may be the end of enjoyment in this one. Most of the gags were surprisingly full of sex and innuendos, which is a bit off the beaten path for Disney as of late (excluding the Marvel films). Even worse, they fell flat with the audience. For example: As Henry, Sparrow and Carina were on a small boat, Sparrow was encouraging Carina to continue stripping her clothing and Henry to shut up and watch. This was a weird joke that took me out of the movie, especially when you’re accustomed to seeing them work as a team by this point. And let’s not begin on the terrible “whore” gag nobody laughed at, which the film even tried to call back 30 minutes later.
The progression of events were predictable from start to finish, which isn’t always a negative unless they’re a drag. Surprise: Dead Men is a bore for most of the two hours. There’s hardly a connection with on-screen events, even when the film subjects the audience to last-minute flashbacks that try developing Salazar’s backstory.
Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) was a welcoming addition towards the middle of the film, when the film otherwise began completely stalling. Rush and Bardem together made the most of their material, breathing life into a script, written by Jeff Nathanson, that proved weightless.
The cash-grab mentality surrounding the previous two films trickled into Dead Men Tell No Tales, and it’s a shame we’re wasting time debating whether the series should continue with a sixth installment (hint: a sixth has been announced). The Pirates franchise has overstayed its welcome, and this film is only proof that Disney might not always care about quality over quantity.
I attended an early 3D IMAX screening thanks to Sly Fox and Disney. ❤
‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ is rated PG-13, runs for 2 hours and 9 minutes and releases in North America on May 26, 2017.