Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales review

After watching the bloated third Pirates of the Caribbean film , I thought I would not have the stomach for more. But hey, I'm like a lot of moviegoers. Okay, let's see the next Jack Sparrow adventure. And Disney knows this. That's why they keep pumping these movies out. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Pirates) is the fifth of the Pirates series. The movie is like a whale. It starts out in life as a baby full of promise, growing into a majestic beast but then dies and is washed ashore as a bloated, decaying mess.

There are times when you write a screenplay, you may be asked to sum up the plot in one sentence. Let's see if I can do it for Pirates. Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner, is searching for the Trident of Poseidon which will break the curse that has imprisoned his father as the Captain of the Flying Dutchman. There, I did it. If only things were so simple.

Of course, there's more to this movie than a one sentence plot summary. Henry must seek the help of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) Why? Well, he's the star of the series. Savvy? The two run into a proto-feminist Carina Smythe (Kaya Scodelario) who's charged with being a witch when she's really an astronomer. Why don't we throw in Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) because he was so much fun in the first three movies. Of course, this being a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, there's got to be some kind of fantasy thing happening. That comes with Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) who is after Sparrow for his eternal curse as a ghost pirate. You see Salazar runs around the American southwest with his pageboy haircut, killing people with a silenced shotgun. Um... sorry that's the plot to No Country for Old Men He does represent death in both. I'll bet that Bardem would like to stop being typecast as a villain.

With all those plot threads, there's some basic problems. First, I appreciate strong female characters and also some liberal metaphor. Carina is a scientist in an unscientific age. The men are dumb. Okay, so far so good. But where this metaphor goes awry is that she's seeking something that is out of fantasy and will deal with things that are not scientific. Hard to say science trumps that. Now Kaya Scodelario's performance as the heroine is smart, charming and she lights up the screen with her natural beauty. However, she can't carry this movie with all the crazy stuff happening around her. That brings us to Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. I get it that Sparrow likes to drink. But he's pretty much drunk during the entire movie. It made it hard to understand what Sparrow was saying because Depp was slurring his lines. Savvy? No.

I don't know if directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) story boarded this movie. Because it doesn't show up during action set pieces. Outside of the early bank robbery piece, all of the action is a jumbled mess of fast cuts. It's hard to figure what is happening. Add to hat is that this movie is badly lit. Yeah, I get it. There are night scenes and underwater scenes. Guys, this is a movie not a documentary. Those dark scenes make the action hard to see. There are a few redeeming factors. Some of the jokes work with their sexual innuendo. And okay, it's good to see Captain Jack. He's like your loopy, drunk uncle.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is one bloated mess of a movie. It needs to be shorter as the movie just keeps going on and on. There must also more swashbuckling and that means physical sword fights. There was way too much CGI. I recommend that you don't run out and spend a lot of money to see this time waster. I would wait to rent it. Finally, there is an end credit scene hinting at a sixth movie. Yep, I've got a pirate curse. I'll probably see that one too. They'll probably call it Pirates of the Caribbean: The Search for Box Office Gold. The grade is B Minus.

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