Thursday, June 1, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Back in 2003, when the original Pirates of the Caribbean was released, I had my doubts about it. A movie based on a theme park ride? Could Disney get any more crassly commercial? Nonetheless, I decided to check it out (my then-current crush on Orlando Bloom no doubt playing a part) and to my surprise I had an absolute blast with it. A large part of it had to do with Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. There just had never been a character like him in film and I loved him immediately. This film was soon followed by two increasingly bloated and convoluted sequels, a Jack Sparrow solo adventure and now we come to the fifth installment. I have followed Jack, sorry, Captain Jack's adventures since the beginning, so naturally I had to check this one out as well.

The film opens with Henry Turner (played by Brenton Thwaites) searching for a way to find Poseidon's Trident, which it is rumored can remove any curse, including his father's curse to captain The Flying Dutchman. He sets out to find Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp), who he believes can help him locate it. In the process he encounters the spectral Pirate Captain Salazar (played by Javier Bardem), who has a bone of his own to pick with Captain Jack, who many years previously tricked him and caused him and his crew to become trapped in their ghostly existence within an area known as the Devil's Triangle. Teaming up with Astronomer Carina (played by Kaya Scodelario), who everyone keeps calling a witch because how dare a woman like science things, Henry and Captain Jack work together to try and locate the Trident before the recently freed Salazar and his ghostly crew catch up to him.     

The film was directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg from a script by Jeff Nathanson and the three do a good job of coming up with a new adventure for Captain Jack while tying all four previous films together, bringing in Will and Elizabeth's son into the adventure as well (who Captain Jack is not particularly pleased to meet, remarking "So, you're the product of that evil couple!"). They keep the film moving at a brisk pace, which considering some of the more bloated entries in the series, that is something to be thankful for. They also manage to come up with some unique action sequences, including an attempted rescue of Captain Jack, who is strapped to a guillotine, something Jack is unfamiliar with at first ("I don't mean to complain, but this basket is full of heads," he remarks at one point). The film falls in line nicely with the other films, coming up with another unique item for everyone to be chasing after for this film, although really they're chasing the same thing every sequel in this franchise has been chasing: the elusive charm that infused the original film. This one probably comes closer that the other films (all though all of them certainly had their moments). It helps that this movie has a clear-cut plotline and doesn't get bogged down with too many subplots, although there are a couple involving a British captain (played by David Wenham) and Pirate Captain Barbossa (played by Geoffrey Rush) getting involved in the action, but for the most part it keeps things fairly straightforward.  

The acting was reasonably strong this time with Johnny Depp once again playing Captain Jack, the same lovable, eccentric rogue I've loved since the first movie. I imagine five movies in Depp can just slip into Captain Jack with ease. Similarly, Geoffrey Rush returns as Barbossa, playing the character with the same over the top flair that has Rush doing everything but literally chewing the scenery. But, this sort of colorful overacting is why we go to these movies. Nuance has no place in a zany swashbuckler like a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Although the film does find some new depths in Barbossa for Rush to play, which is a welcome addition to the film. Newcomers to the series Brenton Thwaites does well in his role, more or less playing the straight man of the group, with Kaya Scodelario as his love interest. It was nice to see a smart girl in the middle of the action who took an active role in helping the group find their Macguffin treasure, in this case Poseidon's Trident and Scodelario plays her well.

Overall, I enjoyed the latest adventure of Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew, as I have the previous films more or less. They still haven't quite managed to recapture the fun of the first film but this one got pretty close. If you're a fan of the series, you'll probably enjoy this one as well. If you're not, then why have you read this far already?         

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