Set your drinks down, me hearties. No need to drink to this one.
Hello, and welcome to the first of a new segment on my blog called “Thoughts On!” This will be for movies that are so mediocre, it doesn’t deserve to be analyzed in the form of a traditional review. The first subject is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge in some territories), the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and hopefully the last.
Dead Men Tell No Tales should not be reviewed like normal because it is the same movie for the fourth time in a row. It suffers from exactly the same mistakes that made the last three sequels (Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End, and On Stranger Tides) as appalling as they are. If you didn’t enjoy even one of the aforementioned Pirates flicks, you will undoubtedly regret watching Dead Men Tell No Tales.
One of the worst things you can do for your movie is overpopulate it with too many side characters and give each of them their own backstory that the writers feel must be explored. This fifth film introduces villain Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), youngster Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), and astronomer Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario). Only one of them is given any meaningful character development, and you get all of it from one of the trailers. Regardless, Salazar is another bland, underwhelming, undead villain who is supposed to be scary, but comes off as cartoonish.
Thwaites and Scodelario’s characters are hollow and one-dimensional, much like the priest and the mermaid from On Stranger Tides. You might care about Henry because he is the son of Will and Elizabeth (not a spoiler; this is revealed in the first few minutes of the film), but there is nothing about his character that redeems him. The same is said for Carina; she is trying to learn about her father and who she is, but nothing about her makes a difference to the viewer if she lives or dies by the end. Oh, and yes, you guessed it from the trailers. Henry and Carina are the subjects of this movie’s romantic subplot because Lord knows we haven’t had enough of those in this franchise.
There are so many side plots in this movie, I am having trouble remembering all of them. I’ll do my best, though. The plot of Dead Men Tell No Tales revolves around the Trident of Poseidon, which can break any curse on the sea, and everyone is after it. Henry wants the Trident to break Will’s curse, Jack so he can defeat Salazar, Carina so she can fulfill something to her father for whatever reason, Barbossa so he can continue ruling the sea, and Salazar so he can kill Jack. Everyone’s motives are given multiple scenes, jumbling everything together. Not only do you not care about most of these characters, but you can’t get invested in why they are on the screen.
There are few movies that can lose its audience before the first 30 minutes are up. Remember in Dead Man’s Chest when Jack, Will, and Norrington all have a sword fight on a moving wheel through the jungle? Well, there is something even more absurd than that when we first see Jack in Dead Men Tell No Tales. This tops every outrageous set piece in the franchise by far. Jack wakes up in a vault full of gold as its bank is being opened to the public. Meanwhile, Jack’s crew are securing ropes tied to the back of the vault through holes in the rear end of the building. Horses are supposed to pull the vault out of the bank, but they can’t get it through the wall. So guess what the crew takes with the vault? THE ENTIRE BUILDING. That’s right. They take the whole bank from its place in the street and drag it around the town until it crashes and collapses against a bridge. I swear, I am not making this up. Fifteen minutes in, and I was out, and I wish I meant literally.
After three convoluted, underwhelming, noisy, ridiculous sequels, not even a new team of directors and writers could save Pirates of the Caribbean from the franchise’s past failures. Instead, it turned out the same. Never see this movie.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales gets a D
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Stay tuned over the next week for my reviews of all the DC Extended Universe films, including Wonder Woman!