Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

(Honestly, just call it Pirates 5…)

About 10 years ago, George Lucas made a statement that soon the Hollywood blockbuster would be dead.  It appears that the opposite has come true instead.  Blockbusters are sinking their claws into us, so much so that I walked out of this fifth film in a massively overblown series feeling perfectly fine about what is ultimately not a good movie.

Alright, to say its not a good movie is a little unfair.  Its half of a good movie, half of a really bad movie.  The first act had me almost groaning out loud in the theater (I didn’t because I’m not completely an asshole).  It is very clear at this point that Jack Sparrow has become a cheap parody of himself, purely an imitation where his quirks have been extrapolated to the point of ridiculousness.   He’s become the clown version of the character we all fell in love with 14 years ago.  This problem around our main character does dissipate as the movie continues, but boy is it noticeable off the start.

Other glaring problems have to do with both the directing and writing.  In the directing based on a lot of awkward timing of jokes and dialogue.  Again, this is very evident in the first half, like when the kid gets back on the rowboat and for some reason mentions Jack’s name, cause, hey we all know that guy!  The writing is also chock-full of plot contrivances, like how giving up the compass frees the baddies for some reason, among many others.

But here’s the thing; it seems to get better.  Yes it does overstay its welcome, as seems to be par for the course with Pirates films.  But I was much more interested in the last half of the film.  As ridiculous as the storyline is, with the hunt for some magical trident on some secret island, I got caught up in it.  I quite enjoy all that mythological tales of the sea idea.  I also liked the idea of the ghost ship hunting down Jack, though I’m not really sure I liked Bardem’s Salazar character.  There was something annoying about it.

But the reason I left this movie feeling fine, was that the action scenes were getting back to the inventiveness of the first two films.  There’s an over-the-top scene with a bank at the start which was goofy fun.  There was also a really neat sequence later involving a guillotine that excited me quite a bit.  And the location of the final action climax, which I wont give away, is really quite cool, despite it reminding me of a certain animated movie I really like.

And so, in the end, I was able to accept a clumsily made film and embrace its goofier side.  I’m not really a Pirates fan, yet in some weird way, I like the mythology and world building of these movies.  I do admit though that they should probably stop soon before Jack Sparrow degrades to Harry and Lloyd levels.  But the guillotine was really cool.



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