After the debacle that was ‘On Stranger Tides’, would the latest offering from Captain Jack Sparrow and the rag-tag band of ever-present misfits that make up the ensemble cast be better or worse than it’s predecessor…
And the answer for ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ (or ‘Salazar’s Revenge’ if you’re in Europe) is yes; but not by much!
I loved the original ‘Pirates…’. The Curse of the Black Pearl was a refreshing re-introduction to the pirate genre that had suffered in recent years from films such as ‘Cutthroat Island’. The ability of the screenwriters to create a fully fleshed world (given that there was some basis in fact anyway) from a ride at Disney was great, and served to reignite interest in an oft forgotten era.
Indeed the legacy of these movies has led to the creation of Starz ‘Black Sails’, which I suspect the creators of ‘Pirates…’ wish their films could be, if not so tied to the Disney stable.
However, I digress!
Having gone into the film with no expectation of enjoying it, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself submerged in the action from the get go. After sitting back in my seat, buckle firmly swashed, we were treated to the standard delight of a huge opening sequence, which saw Jack having to escape capture and death yet again. Whilst this trope is very much used throughout the series, the inventive situations that the writers contrive to put Jack and his companions never fails to amuse.
Unfortunately apart from this scene the opening act is rather flat. There is a decent amount of time spent introducing new characters, but the focus chops and changes with such rapidity at times that it is difficult to follow each story point. However, acts two and three more than make up for this.
The middle act is strong setting up for a colossal and unexpectedly emotional finale. Revelations, the loss of a well-established character, and a very well scripted and fitting end make this effort finish positively. In fact, where there not already evidence of a sixth instalment in the works I would say that the end of this movie would be the perfect way to finish the series as a whole. As such, we know there is more to come as Disney continue to flog the proverbial cash cow.
Action set pieces were visually breath-taking, although at points let down by some sketchy CGI, but this can be forgiven in the context of the series as a whole that, while heavily reliant on visual effects, has the element of comedy and campness to it that allows you to see past a few niggles in the effects work.
Of course with respect to casting, no one else could be Jack Sparrow. Johnny Depp IS this character and the series hangs on the producer’s ability to get him back in the role each time. Geoffrey Rush is great as Barbosa, showing new facets to the character that we haven’t seen before. Javier Bardem ably becomes the villain of the piece, although there are times when his depiction of Salazar is a bit too much and some scenes seem to drag. Of the new additions to the ‘Pirates…’ roster, Brenton Thwaites is new to me, although he has some good credits under his belt, and Kaya Scodelario was recently seen in the Maze Runner series, so used to large ensemble cast productions. Both fit well into their roles, although some of the dialogue delivery at times was slightly wooden.
Overall I am pleased with how the movie turned out. From not having high hopes, I have some faith restored in the series, although think that this should be where the line is drawn. Definitely something to see, although wouldn’t be terrible to wait for the home release.
3/5 Yo-Ho-Ho’s and a bottle of rum.