I consider myself a fairly big fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Despite what most people may think about the second and third films, I enjoy them quite a bit. There are flaws for sure, but there is a lot of fun to be had with some fantastic moments. I recently watched the fourth film in preparation for this one and I did not like it very much. It is not awful, but simply lifeless. It seemed as if they just wanted to make money with a very bland Pirates film attached. This time around it seems like they genuinely want to continue the franchise, but what they ended up doing was making me hope that this is indeed their last film.
To the film’s credit, it does start off with some promise. We are introduced to Will Turner’s son, Henry, who wants to free his father from his curse to the Flying Dutchman. We are introduced to Captain Salazar, who seeks revenge against Jack for cursing him. We are also re-introduced to a Captain Jack Sparrow who is well beyond his prime, and cursed with bad luck. As far as set-up goes, I found it interesting how “curses” prominently played into each of these three main characters.
Of the three, I found Jack’s struggle interesting (at least early on). In the first four films Jack may not have been the best pirate, but he was certainly great at scheming and getting out of situations. In this film he can no longer do that, which puts him in a lot of trouble. I initially enjoyed seeing a Jack who is constantly drunk and a bit of a has-been, but the problem is the film did not give him an arc. It would have been great to see him re-discover what it means to be Captain Jack Sparrow by bumping into some people from his past, but instead the film just uses him for laughs (kind of). The rest of the cast and crew are okay, but ultimately no one sticks out. Javier Bardem looks great as Salazar, but I never thought he was an interesting villain. He had a handful of good scenes that displayed his malice, but compared to Barbossa in the first film, or Davy Jones in the second and third, he did not prove to be an imposing figure. Still, there is some fun to be had in this film. A couple of fun sequences do stand out, but they are early on in the film. As the film goes on it runs out of fuel and ends on an underwhelming note.
Death will come straight for him.
There is a lot wrong with this film. I already talked about Jack, but I need to add on that he has never been unfunnier. I may have chuckled two or three times at something he said, but for the most part he just could not deliver the laughs like he used to. In fact, all the comedy in the film was not handled very well. The story itself, while starting off with promise, ends up being convoluted and ultimately forgettable. Okay, I need to mention Jack one last time: Why was he even necessary? He did not add anything to the adventure.
Sure, he had a ship (small ship), but surely Henry and Carina could have found another ship. In all the other films Jack had a purpose for being there but this time he was only in the film because Salazar was seeking him out, and the filmmakers needed him to be in it. Also, the effects this time were not that great. I realized in the last film, On Stranger Tides, they didn’t not use visual effects all that much. However, this time they used it a lot and it does not measure up to the first, second, or third films. Perhaps it is because this is a more colorful film (the saturation has been bumped up for this), but maybe they just rushed through the post-production process to get the film out in time.
The best way to describe my feelings towards this film is that I simply did not care for it. Sure, it has some fun moments and it is always a delight to be in this Pirates world, but it is a big mess. The writing is severely lacking and Captain Jack has officially lost his charm. I have a feeling this will be the last in the franchise, and it is a shame because it has gone out with a whimper.