I have long been a fan of pirates and their place in folklore. The Disney franchise has done an excellent job in stringing together a captivating story of dynamic characters for 4 movies now. The 4th film in the franchise was met with criticism, but I don’t see how a movie with peg leg pirates, mermaids, zombies, and more could be a bad thing. That’s neither here nor there because number 5 is upon us! I went into this one with high anticipation, I must admit. My anticipation was met with the same amount of passion, but the execution left something to be desired.
I’d like to begin with pacing. A good director is extremely mindful of the pace the movie needs at every turn of the corner. Each scene should be looked at intently to define the pace inherent to it as well as the pace that the filmmaker wants to dictate. For example, if I want to make the movie watcher feel that things are moving quickly and they need to be ready for it, I’d jump from cut to cut and speed up the movements. Contrarily, if I want to slow it down and put the viewer in a lull, let the camera linger for a bit. Dead Men Tell No Tales threw it all to the wind and went balls to the wall. All go and no slow made the movie a jumbled mess. It was non-stop action packed to the point that there are a million questions unanswered. The only reason to leave questions unanswered is on purpose, and it seemed as though they were left due to time. Packing too much into one movie. So how did the trident come into existence? What are its’ powers? Where had Elisabeth Swan been and why had Will Turner grown to be ‘cursed’? How is it the trident will save him and how do we know that? My list goes on and on, but I digress…
The film opens with a classic Jack Sparrow chase scene through the city. St. Marten is one of the quintessential locations I associate with piracy and it was great entertainment to see it torn up with Jack’s antics. This part was worthy of the driving pace and it really fit well. In the end, however, Jack is left ‘cause his luck has run out. That point is never revisited in the movie. Its like the foreshadowing was never followed up on and it should have been.
Too many parts of this movie felt ham fisted. Let’s just throw Paul McCartney in a jail cell and have Johnny Depp chat with him. The subtleties of the first movie where the slightest move told us something about the character, their background, or their intentions. Now, everything is coming at us with roadrunner speed and anvil force. Put it right between our eyes because otherwise no one will pick up on it.
The characters we have come to know well have been taken for granted. The development of these characters came through various means that told us what they were going to do in each situation, or if we could even make a prediction. This story leaned far too hard upon the developed prequel characters and didn’t offer up much in itself. For the most part, the characters didn’t even behave in the same manner they would have before, and the audience was never really told why. The new characters had absolutely no chance to be heard or understood through all the noise. Jack had a larger than life presence throughout the movies thus far. In 5, he’s lost along with all the others in the mad scramble to the credits.
The original score, composed by Hans Zimmer, was one of the greatest movie scores ever written. Naturally, a franchise is going to ride on the skirts of its’ success as long as it can. Dead Men Tell No Tales was far too generic to be considered decent. I have to give some slack due to the driving force in the movie’s entirety. It must be hard to compose music that allows nothing but rise.
This brings me to the ending. Would Will be freed? Would Barbossa end up with plunders of his wildest dreams? Would Jack be killed, or immortalized to torment the seas forever? For the movie to end with the cookie cutter, best for everyone fashion was a cop out. It simply fell flat and there’s not many other ways for me to describe it. I was left wanting. Questions seeking answers they will never find. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was an entertaining and fun watch, but I’ve come to expect more from the franchise and from the brand.