A young man, Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) seeks out the Trident of Poseidon in order to lift a curse put upon his father Will (Orlando Bloom) who is forced to remain with his ship at the bottom of the sea. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) each have a vested interest in finding the same magical treasure.
I say, “Seek ye the magic doodad.”
Howe was unable to attend the cinema this week, but I was able to finagle my wife, her brother and by pure coincidence my sister, as well as her husband, to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. I presumed I wasn’t going to enjoy the film, as I’m not a Pirates fan, nor really of Disney in its traditional form. Admittedly, Disney has recently become something other than it was once. Still, I thought having some people suffer through Dead Men Tell No Tales might help me formulate an opinion.
It seems the folks in my group, my sample audience, who came to the theatre of their own volition enjoyed the film more than those who were, for example, roped into it by their movie reviewing husband. Better Pirates, I say, than Baywatch, at least in terms of production value. My sister loves a good fantasy movie. Both she and Dawn’s brother Wes were fans of this series in particular. Everyone agrees that it’s a silly series — it’s supposed to be. It is a magical fantasy that is supposed to have a perpetual drunkard at the helm. Therein lies problem one with episode five: There’s not a lot of Jack. There is certainly not enough of Jack.
The film follows Henry Turner and his female counterpart, Carina (Kaya Scodelario), who is also seeking Poseidon’s trident. The three Captains also seek the trident, because the plot of every Hollywood movie has to be about problem solving via magical possessions.
All the different characters and their crews slowly come together, closer to the trident, in a maelstrom that will satisfy all, cursed or otherwise. There will be a denouement, they will live happily ever after. The audience doesn’t care because it’s not invested. It’s not invested because of problem number two: Tricks and stunts look good, but change develops character. The many varied and busy parties in this film are the same at its beginning as they are at its completion. I’m not saying Jack Sparrow should sober up, but imagine how you’d feel if you saw it happen.
Nothing happens in this movie, short of what amounts to the pressing of a button. However, that just makes Pirates 5 like every other formulaic, focus group driven marketing platform produced by hollow suits: average.
I was only bored half of the time, which is pretty good, all things considered.
An average of my sample audience score yields 3.5 stars out of 5, but that should really be more like 2.5.
— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears every Friday.