While it does show improvement from the previous film, the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series proves that some studios will keep beating a dead horse or, in this case, a dead pirate, for money.
This film brings back the old swashbuckling gang of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and their lovably dim-witted pirate crew and introduces young newcomers, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina (Kaya Scodelario) into the mix. There’s also the new mythic villain of the film, the ghostly Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem). The majority of this film focuses on the trio of Jack, Henry, and Carina as they search for the Trident of Poseidon, which is said to grant total control of the sea and break any curse from the sea. Salazar and his ghostly crew intervene as they are hell-bent on taking vengeance towards Jack after killing them many years ago.
Sadly, the characters and the plot in this film were not fully fleshed out and certain great opportunities that could have reflected a new and different side of these characters were neglected. Jack Sparrow had an identical personality from the rest of the films and where there came a point in the beginning of the film to show growth in Jack’s personality, the film just left Jack going in the same direction he normally goes in. Henry, a sailor in the British Royal Navy, comes off as a likable and determined young man who is just looking to end a curse on his family. Even though he seems a gentler than Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), they still feel like the very similar characters and no true distinction between the two is noticeable. Carina’s wit and courage were a positive standout in this film. However, her character could have been further developed with her intellect being used in more situations throughout the story. The relationship between Carina and Henry did not have a strong chemistry and just felt somewhat dull.
Barbossa was definitely a highlight in the film since he seems to be putting the most effort into his character and knows how to reveal more than one strong side of his character. On the other hand, when a twist is discovered within his part of the story, the film yet again does not fully show the twist’s significance and does not leave a full-formed version of the character. Bardem’s portrayal of Salazar felt promising at first, but as the film went on, he gave an average effort to this villain and it just felt like he was added as a villain so Jack had to defeat him. Also, Salazar’s goals were minimal compared to other villains and his overall development was stagnant.
The positives of this film were the action sequences with some obvious advances in CGI, especially with the way they were able to make Salazar and his crew look like slowly crumbling bodies just waiting to be blown away. Also, the final action sequence felt well-structured and not overly stretched out like other films in the franchise.
The pace of the plot still felt unstable and dragged straight to the climax, leaving inexcusable plot holes and unnecessary scenes cluttered into the film where a more organized and cohesive structure could have been made.
Overall, the film did feel like a small step up from the last film and the addition of Easter eggs gave some quality to the story. The same old characters and plot just felt bland and the missed story opportunities just made the film feel like it was made only to gain more money from fans of these films. Hopefully, this is the end of the pirate’s life for Disney and myself. I give this film a C-.
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‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’ Review: Featured image courtesy of Disney