Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho!

Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Men Tell No Tales – 4 out of 5

Back in 2003 I was in the middle of my college career and it was at that time that Disney released Pirates of the Caribbean:  Curse of the Black Pearl.  I scoffed at the film because I thought there is no way that a movie can be made based on a ride and the idea that it could be good felt impossible.  I was, however, curious so I went to the theater to check it out and really, really enjoyed it.  The next two films in the first trilogy weren’t as great but there was some fun to the franchise and I discovered that I really dug the fourth film.  Well, here we are with another swashbuckling adventure with Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Men Tell No Tales.  So, how does this one weigh in on the franchise?  Not too bad, I have to say.

                                                                                           Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Play "Highway to the Dangerzone" for full effect!

The sea holds many secrets and twice as many curses and one of them has condemned the pirate hunting crusader; Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), to a life as a ghost trapped within the Devil’s Triangle.  However, after Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) forsakes his trademark enchanted compass, Salazar is released and out for vengeance.  Meanwhile, Will Turner’s son; Henry (Brenton Thwaites), teams with a dedicated woman of science named Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) to try and find Poseidon’s Trident because within the item rests the magic needed to end all curses out on the high seas.
                                                                                        Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The pirate life sounds cool but not if it brings about that skin.
I went into this film a tad on the skeptical side.  While I am a fan of the Pirates films, I did have some creeping doubts in my head that this film might be the one that exhausts me of the series.  I really enjoy the first one, thought the second and third one were okay and I had a lot of fun with the fourth one but did have real concerns about seeing a fifth adventure.  However, the moment the film started and as the story progressed, I found myself getting caught up in the action and found a film that I enjoyed more than I was prepared to enjoy.

                                                                              Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Javier Bardem, the man who acts through eccentric hair styles...and pulls it off exceptionally.

I was easily sucked into the world that Pirates of the Caribbean exists in thanks to the lush locales, epic score and the excellent sets and costumes.  The story was straight forward and was able to have the magical elements that have been common in the other films but the journey and adventure was set on a slightly smaller scale than the other films had.  Finally, the special effects are fantastic and really helped in creating the world and making it a believable one.  This was really captivating when it came to crafting Captain Salazar.  The way his hair was constantly floating like it was underwater made for a villain that was unsettling but very cool to observe at the same time.

                                                                              Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
"You would think the barnacles on my face would suck but really it--no, wait, it does suck."

Further elements that helped absorb me into the film were the action and the performances.  To be honest, I kinda want more action pieces in the film because there feels like so few of them in the early parts of the movie but as the story progresses the action becomes very exciting and varied to the point that its more than just sword fighting and canons shooting—the zombie sharks were definitely a highlight for me.  The cast, additionally, did a tremendous job at making the film fun and what you would expect from a summer blockbuster.  Newcomers to the franchise Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario did a fantastic job of running with the returning familiar faces like Depp and Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa but my favorite member of the cast was definitely Javier Bardem as Salazar.  This character is already a standout villain thanks to the curse that is on him and the makeup and special effects used to bring him to life but those two elements would be hollow and pointless if there wasn’t an actor giving them soul.  Bardem does this and, like every performance the man has ever given, he is commanding attention and making the character endlessly intriguing to watch.  Bardem made every syllable of every word he spoke as Salazar sound like a grotesque and angry symphony that was playing the song of his torment and his rage—it was damn impressive.

                                                                             Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Zombie sharks:  Approximately one million times scarier than living sharks.

There were some noticeable but not totally destroying drawbacks I had for the film.  These came in the form of some character development issues, some action set pieces and gags that I didn’t personally enjoy (some even felt like they were just recycled from previous films), and a character that might be wearing a bit thin on me.  When it concerns development, I really wanted to see the histories of Henry and Carina dived into more.  What we get is serviceable as their tales involve their families but the rate we learn about Carina’s heritage was too slow for my taste and how sparsely they focus on Henry’s journey to save his father from the Dutchman’s curse was a bit of a bummer.  We learn Henry’s motivation early in the story but, after that, development of what he aims to accomplish comes very infrequently and it was easy to forget why he’s doing this at all.  Ultimately, though, the biggest drawback I had for the film was Captain Jack Sparrow.

I’m not the biggest fan of Johnny Depp.  I don’t particularly find him to be that talented of an actor (load up on all the eccentricities you want on the character, it still feels like Johnny Depp playing a character rather than being the character) and he seems like a straight-up abusive, pretentious asshole in his personal life.  That results in me having a hard time separating the art from the artist but I’ve always genuinely enjoyed him as Captain Jack Sparrow.  It’s one of the very few roles I see him in where I don’t see the actor first but rather the character.  That being said, I found Sparrow and his usual hijinks to be the weaker and more forgettable parts of the movie.  Maybe it’s because we have a really great villain in this film or maybe the supporting cast was just that good at being more captivating than the Depp but I’m starting to feel like this character might be nearing my own personal limit and that I might be getting tired of his shtick.  Now, granted, there are still scenes from him that I found very entertaining and amusing (like the scene with Paul McCartney’s cameo) but, overall, I didn’t find him as fun or as memorable as he was in the other films.

                                                                                           Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
I'm just assuming that this movie paid for silencing that whole business that
went down with Amber Heard.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales may be getting luke warm receptions from critics and some audiences but I found a film that I really had fun with.  It had some issues that were hard to ignore but it also invited a lot of promise as the new characters introduced could lead to future, Sparrow-less Pirate films—which, I’ll be honest, I would be open to.  Overall, however, the film delivered a fun and entertaining adventure that I look for in this franchise and showed why I enjoy the summer blockbuster season so much.

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