I’m going to tell you this in more detail but just in case you’re seeing this on your way to the theatre I’m going to say it now: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a bad movie and you should not see it.
Still with me? OK then. Here’s the setup: Orlando Bloom is still the captain of the Flying Dutchman and his son Brenton Thwaites wants very much to free him from this fate. Orlando is super unhappy with his current station and you can tell from the barnacles growing on his face. There’s a mystical thing that can free him and young Brenton goes on a quest to find it but of course he needs the help of Jack Sparrow and the plucky young scientist who doesn’t believe in ghosts or magic or anything.
It’s not a new story, to say the least, and they manage to drag back a bunch of the pirates who appeared in previous films to join them on it. It’s true, Geoffrey Rush is there along with pirates from previous crews of the Black Pearl, and even the two guys who started out as royal marines in the first one are no full-fledged pirates.
This is kind of a problem though because there are just too many characters. Every time the evil captain Salazar catches up the good guys his crew of ghosts start murdering pirates left and right, but none of the characters with names every die. This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but that in any other scenes they are the only characters around is. Whenever the bad guys show up the size of the crew triples so that lots of people can die but those extra pirates aren’t around, even in the background, for the rest of the film.
This brings us to Captain Salazar. I actually like Javier Bardem in this. He’s doing his best to chew the scenery with bad material, and I like the ghost effects on him. One thing though: the movie never actually explains how he and his crew became ghosts. Sure, they’re outsmarted by Jack Sparrow in his youth but there’s no pact with a higher power or mystical item or anything that causes them to become ghosts. It just happens. Contrast this for a moment with the fact that the same flashback sequence that makes this clear also takes the time to show us the origin of Jack Sparrow’s fucking hat and the bone thing that hangs from his hair.
Still, Bardem does his best and so does Geoffrey Rush. So much so that I came away wishing that they were the central characters. Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario, actors who I have liked in other things, have no real chemistry so their inevitable love story arc falls flat. Johnny Depp, well, he does his Johnny Depp playing Jack Sparrow thing. I did laugh a couple of times during this movie, most of them were at Johnny Depp getting hurt.
Add to this a casual disregard for the franchise continuity –there’s a whole new origin for the compass, and if the quick math in my head is right I’m pretty sure that they disregard the timeline entirely– and you end up with a pretty bad movie.
I feel bad that I paid to see this. I feel bad that my $13 may contribute to this getting a sequel and I feel bad that I supported a movie that features a wife abusing douche. Do yourself a favour, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise, and skip this one. It’s bad and boring. Captain Salazar’s ship literally eats other ships in this movie and they couldn’t make that interesting.