Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Director: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg

Starring: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Paul McCartney, Brenton Thwaites

Rated: PG-13 (sequences of adventure violence, and some suggestive content)

Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon while being pursued by an undead sea captain and his crew.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

By Matt Greene

Dead Men… is the fifth(!) movie based on a plotless 1960s theme park ride. Only Disney would have the cojones to get away with something so (frankly) stupid. Despite all odds, the first film was a critical and cultural behemoth, entertainingly combining fantasy lore, swashbuckling action and refreshing silliness. From there, everything became overly convoluted, & then completely pointless, until this latest seafaring adventure. Not that Dead Men… will be confused for great, but it returns Jack Sparrow back to the cool set-pieces, broad laughs and series nostalgia that made it passably diverting.

Dead Men… opens with a high energy chase. Captain Jack and his band of bootleggers have stolen an entire bank building and are dragging it through a colorful old town. Later on, there’s another center-piece escape scene, with Jack using the guillotine shackles he’s stuck in to ward off the enemy. It’s peppered with Buster-Keaton-Jackie-Chan-esque CG stunts, captured within a story about a cursed crew and a family reunited. It marries past characters and stories to present woes, and rarely strays off its predetermined course.

The straight-forward plotting gives plenty of room for Depp to quip and waddle like we want. Unfortunately, it also gives room for the movie to slow down for another charisma-less romance between two unknown, charmless model-actors. In these moments, and the many others that scream of corn and cheese, the 129-minute length started to feel much longer and even made me almost doze off. So do I actually like this because it’s “good”, or am I just reacting to the unfairly terrible reviews and its preceding sequels? Oh well; just drink up, me ‘earties and enjoy this slice of pirate life.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

By Cole Schneider

The new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie—y’know, the one everyone begged for—is out in theaters, and it’s exactly what anyone should be expecting from the franchise at this point. There’s lots of swashbuckling and very little story or character intrigue. Although this “Pirates” film has essentially moved on from some of the franchise’s stars, Kiera Knightley and Orlando Bloom, their almost identical replacements are just another set pair of stiff characters trapped in a romantic comedy trapped in an adventure film trapped on screen with a tired Johnny Depp, we’re basically all watching the same thing happen.

As it tries to recapture the magic of the first film the audience only gets increasingly aware of its cheap desires and sad fate as it goes. By the middle of the film it almost feels like a high-budget parody of itself. Cleaning up the narrative so that it’s easy to follow seems to have only drawn attention to many other problems. Still, there are flurries of actual adventure, including a couple sets that momentarily capture the magic of something like “Indiana Jones”.

Unfortunately where the first “Pirates” film felt like it sustained that magic and stood on its own, this one feels like a retread, often in the worst ways possible. Hollywood meanwhile seems to think that filling bad scripts with filler will help, but at over 2 hours, this sparse tale dragged far too long. IMDB’s summary (normally 2-3 sentences) reads merely: “Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon.” It truly is just that happening, minute after minute after god-forsaken minute.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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