PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN:
DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

PRE-SCREENING MUSINGS

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (fourteen years ago to be precise, but it feels exasperatingly long), a pirate was born in the Disney live-action zeitgeist. He would be known widely by his admirers as Captain Jack Sparrow and would live to bring his viewers a bountiful mishmash of rum-soaked impertinence and witty dialogue.

It comes as no surprise that Johnny Depp (Black Mass) would go on to bag an Oscar nom for his portrayal of Sparrow—a swashbuckling Bugs-Bunny-meets-Road-Runner pirate equivalent who’d morph into a pop-culture phenomenon with The Curse of the Black Pearl’s eventual success.

Since then, however, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise would treat its viewers to three redundant sequels, with each consecutive installment being paler than its predecessor. An abysmal On Stranger Tides (with Penélope Cruz as the only saving grace) later, there is nothing new Dead Men Tell No Tales could offer—except, of course, the delirious hope of the ever-bankable Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) breathing new life into this franchise as Jack Sparrow’s nemesis.

THE MOVIE

Arrrr matey, or something like that

Let’s cut right to the chase: at 153 minutes, this movie is long, laborious, and painfully exhausting. Sitting through it makes one wonder if its makers had realized that its title was uncannily befitting in its possible self-awareness—this tale is certainly dead at its core. Its dreary plot is run over by backstory upon mundane backstory, in an unsuccessful attempt to create “fulfilling” character arcs. Suffice to say, one just cannot fathom, or seem to care, either for the characters or about what’s happening on-screen—it’s just all too confusing.

The fact that Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom return for a measly five-second embrace—Bloom has ten more seconds in the movie, hugging his son, which isn’t saying much—is probably a sign that they’ve long since abandoned this franchise, and rightly so. Dead Men Tell No Tales feels like an almost parodical shell of its first installment. Its bland recipe “boasts” a mix of mystery, a lost magical artifact, an enemy hell-bent on revenge, obvious double-crossings, and, of course, the return of vessel-jumping (one of them’s obviously a ghost ship).

Fortunately, there is some respite. Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki), with the help of decent CGI, do deliver on the action. A speeding horse-drawn carriage tows an entire bank across town—à la Fast & Furious—in a particularly memorable set-piece. In another hilarious bit, viewers witness Sparrow trapped in a rotating guillotine, the blade almost severing his neck multiple times. There’s also an obvious (but pleasant) attempt to whip up some nostalgia, with The Black Pearl—Sparrow’s original vessel—brought back to life from its miniature in a glass bottle.

It’s almost like shoving a mouthful of raw garlic and moldy bread to replicate the garlic bread experience—only poorly.KELVIN KANTHARAJ VINCENT

And then there’s Javier Bardem. As undead ghost-pirate Salazar, he is aptly menacing, and the CGI on him and his crew are fantastic. But there’s only so much a good performance and technical wizardry can save a film this haphazardly narrated. Allow us to demonstrate: Salazar hopes to reverse the curse on him and his ship by killing Jack. However, he cannot set foot on dry land. Why? Because movie. After all, if he could, he wouldn’t be double-crossed by archenemy-turned-frenemy-turned-ally-turned-goodness-knows-what Hector Barbossa (reprised by a visibly tired Geoffrey Rush), whose only purpose in this movie is to lead Salazar to Sparrow.

Ah, Sparrow. Once an admirable, smoldering badass, his character is now a pathetic drunk, who—according to an apt judgment passed in the film—is without a ship, crew, and fortune. Johnny Depp’s rendition of the protagonist has predictably tumbled down to a poor caricature. He is irrelevant, and yet, the story revolves around him somehow.

How? Like Depp’s questionable portrayal of Jack Sparrow impersonating himself, that will be an unsolved mystery.

We’re also served some young blood here—Australian hottie Brenton Thwaites (The Signal) plays the son of Bloom and Knightley’s characters, and teams up with Kaya Scodelario (the Maze Runner franchise) who plays a feisty astronomer and horologist. Both are on a quest to seek the Trident of Poseidon because they have daddy issues—he wants to free his father from a curse; she wants to find hers—and they team up with Jack Sparrow, just because.

Yep. Just because.

The film’s McGuffin—the mystical (?) artifact—is supposed to reverse all curses accumulated over the timelines of the past four installments, ensuring a happy ending. At a point, there are seven different parties who are pursuing said artifact, complete with seven different wafer-thin motivations. It’s almost like shoving a mouthful of raw garlic and moldy bread to replicate the garlic bread experience—only poorly.

Why would anyone want that?

Ain't no Rush to drown!

VERDICT

As you’d have guessed by now, Dead Men Tell No Tales is ample proof that, like its protagonist, this franchise is a ship that has long sunk into aquatic oblivion. Some impressively composited set-pieces and Javier Bardem’s performance aside, there is no spirit, no spark, and a Sparrow with no wings.

PS: Chances of a sequel to Dead Men Tell No Tales—complete with an equally atrocious title like Barely Alive: A Dance With Whales or what have you—look dreadfully high. Gulp.

Watch the trailer here:

About the Author

Kelvin Kantharaj Vincent

Facebook

Voracious reader. Passionate writer. Certified crazy. Relentless foodie.

Star Rating:

AKA

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Plot

Henry Turner, on a quest to find a mystical artefact and free his father from a curse, teams up with Captain Jack Sparrow, who’s in turn being chased by an evil ghost pirate, Salazar.

Cast

Johnny Depp
Brenton Thwaites
Kaya Scodelario

Director

Joachim Rønning
Espen Sandberg

Rated

PG-13

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Cast Johnny Depp
Brenton Thwaites
Kaya Scodelario
Director Joachim Rønning
Espen Sandberg
Star Rating

THE PLOT

Henry Turner, on a quest to find a mystical artefact and free his father from a curse, teams up with Captain Jack Sparrow, who’s in turn being chased by an evil ghost pirate, Salazar.

PRE-SCREENING MUSINGS

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (fourteen years ago to be precise, but it feels exasperatingly long), a pirate was born in the Disney live-action zeitgeist. He would be known widely by his admirers as Captain Jack Sparrow and would live to bring his viewers a bountiful mishmash of rum-soaked impertinence and witty dialogue.

It comes as no surprise that Johnny Depp (Black Mass) would go on to bag an Oscar nom for his portrayal of Sparrow—a swashbuckling Bugs-Bunny-meets-Road-Runner pirate equivalent who’d morph into a pop-culture phenomenon with The Curse of the Black Pearl’s eventual success.

Since then, however, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise would treat its viewers to three redundant sequels, with each consecutive installment being paler than its predecessor. An abysmal On Stranger Tides (with Penélope Cruz as the only saving grace) later, there is nothing new Dead Men Tell No Tales could offer—except, of course, the delirious hope of the ever-bankable Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) breathing new life into this franchise as Jack Sparrow’s nemesis.

THE MOVIE

Arrrr matey, or something like that

Let’s cut right to the chase: at 153 minutes, this movie is long, laborious, and painfully exhausting. Sitting through it makes one wonder if its makers had realized that its title was uncannily befitting in its possible self-awareness—this tale is certainly dead at its core. Its dreary plot is run over by backstory upon mundane backstory, in an unsuccessful attempt to create “fulfilling” character arcs. Suffice to say, one just cannot fathom, or seem to care, either for the characters or about what’s happening on-screen—it’s just all too confusing.

The fact that Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom return for a measly five-second embrace—Bloom has ten more seconds in the movie, hugging his son, which isn’t saying much—is probably a sign that they’ve long since abandoned this franchise, and rightly so. Dead Men Tell No Tales feels like an almost parodical shell of its first installment. Its bland recipe “boasts” a mix of mystery, a lost magical artifact, an enemy hell-bent on revenge, obvious double-crossings, and, of course, the return of vessel-jumping (one of them’s obviously a ghost ship).

Fortunately, there is some respite. Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki), with the help of decent CGI, do deliver on the action. A speeding horse-drawn carriage tows an entire bank across town—à la Fast & Furious—in a particularly memorable set-piece. In another hilarious bit, viewers witness Sparrow trapped in a rotating guillotine, the blade almost severing his neck multiple times. There’s also an obvious (but pleasant) attempt to whip up some nostalgia, with The Black Pearl—Sparrow’s original vessel—brought back to life from its miniature in a glass bottle.

It’s almost like shoving a mouthful of raw garlic and moldy bread to replicate the garlic bread experience—only poorly.KELVIN KANTHARAJ VINCENT

And then there’s Javier Bardem. As undead ghost-pirate Salazar, he is aptly menacing, and the CGI on him and his crew are fantastic. But there’s only so much a good performance and technical wizardry can save a film this haphazardly narrated. Allow us to demonstrate: Salazar hopes to reverse the curse on him and his ship by killing Jack. However, he cannot set foot on dry land. Why? Because movie. After all, if he could, he wouldn’t be double-crossed by archenemy-turned-frenemy-turned-ally-turned-goodness-knows-what Hector Barbossa (reprised by a visibly tired Geoffrey Rush), whose only purpose in this movie is to lead Salazar to Sparrow.

Ah, Sparrow. Once an admirable, smoldering badass, his character is now a pathetic drunk, who—according to an apt judgment passed in the film—is without a ship, crew, and fortune. Johnny Depp’s rendition of the protagonist has predictably tumbled down to a poor caricature. He is irrelevant, and yet, the story revolves around him somehow.

How? Like Depp’s questionable portrayal of Jack Sparrow impersonating himself, that will be an unsolved mystery.

We’re also served some young blood here—Australian hottie Brenton Thwaites (The Signal) plays the son of Bloom and Knightley’s characters, and teams up with Kaya Scodelario (the Maze Runner franchise) who plays a feisty astronomer and horologist. Both are on a quest to seek the Trident of Poseidon because they have daddy issues—he wants to free his father from a curse; she wants to find hers—and they team up with Jack Sparrow, just because.

Yep. Just because.

The film’s McGuffin—the mystical (?) artifact—is supposed to reverse all curses accumulated over the timelines of the past four installments, ensuring a happy ending. At a point, there are seven different parties who are pursuing said artifact, complete with seven different wafer-thin motivations. It’s almost like shoving a mouthful of raw garlic and moldy bread to replicate the garlic bread experience—only poorly.

Why would anyone want that?

Ain't no Rush to drown!

VERDICT

As you’d have guessed by now, Dead Men Tell No Tales is ample proof that, like its protagonist, this franchise is a ship that has long sunk into aquatic oblivion. Some impressively composited set-pieces and Javier Bardem’s performance aside, there is no spirit, no spark, and a Sparrow with no wings.

PS: Chances of a sequel to Dead Men Tell No Tales—complete with an equally atrocious title like Barely Alive: A Dance With Whales or what have you—look dreadfully high. Gulp.

Watch trailer here:

About the Author

Kelvin Kantharaj Vincent

Facebook

Voracious reader. Passionate writer. Certified crazy. Relentless foodie.

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