(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for a human warning label, so instead of one for myself, I wrote one for Captain Jack Sparrow.)
Exposure to this individual
May well endanger your health.
Symptoms include a desire to say “Arrgh”
And insatiable cravings for wealth,
As well as impulses to slap and/or kill
And maybe a seafaring curse,
Which can cause vendettas and lusting for vengeance,
Resulting in death or much worse.
Alert your witch doctor if death should occur
Or unbridled hating of guts.
Always use “Captain” preceding his name.
Warning: May contain nuts.
MPAA rating: PG-13
Perhaps people didn’t expect much from what is now the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, since the series was already showing signs of fatigue with the fourth. On Stranger Tides remains my least favorite of the bunch because it lacks the three-way dynamic between Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann that made the original trilogy so enjoyable. Sure, Penelope Cruz adds some sexual tension with Jack, but it feels more like a spinoff than a genuine part of the series. Dead Men Tell No Tales, on the other hand, is thankfully a truer continuation; granted, it’s a paler, less original version of its predecessors but close enough still to feel of a piece with them.
Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley aren’t exactly back in action here, both instead offering cameos that must have been the easiest paychecks imaginable, but they’re still part of the story, with Will and Elizabeth’s son Henry (Brenton Thwaites) taking Will’s place as the earnest adventurer searching to free his father from the curse of the Flying Dutchman. In Elizabeth’s role, we get Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth, an educated woman (gasp!) whose smarts get her constantly accused of being a witch, which never seemed to be a problem for Elizabeth, but oh well. They’re at least better than Sam Claflin and his mermaid girlfriend(?).
And of course, Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow, whom most people seem to think is past his prime as a character. I could see why at first, since Depp does seem to sleepwalk through the first half, but, keeping in mind that Jack was largely hung over for that half, he grows back into the role and is back to his old self by the end. It’s Geoffrey Rush that offers especially strong support, with Barbossa actually getting a worthwhile character arc rather than being shoehorned in like with On Stranger Tides. As the latest antagonist with a grudge against Jack, Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar may not have the best backstory (he hates pirates and was outsmarted by Jack; oh, and he’s cursed as a ghost…for some reason), but he still has great screen presence between Bardem’s intensity and some impressive floaty ghost effects. It’s never made clear why his curse was linked to Jack’s compass, though.
I’ve seen quite a lot of negative reviews for Dead Men Tell No Tales, and indeed I haven’t been exactly glowing with this review either. It’s not nearly as good as the first three, and even the impressive effects aren’t quite as seamless as the past films, which is a little weird. Yet it still has all the ingredients that made the original films so much fun, in particular the visually awesome action and occasional cleverness, and even rights some of the more dubious creative choices of past movies, like bottling the Black Pearl in On Stranger Tides. Plus, Paul McCartney’s got a great unrecognizable cameo! And even with all the copycat characters and less-than-inspired plot points, it has a perfectly fitting end to the story begun fifteen years earlier. At least until the eyebrow-raising after-credits scene segues into a sixth movie. Yep, it’s gonna happen apparently, and I’ll be there once again to be entertained while hoping they don’t mess it up.
Best line: (Carina) “I’m not looking for trouble!” (Captain Jack Sparrow) “What a horrible way to live.”
Rank: List-Worthy? (it’s really Runner-Up material, but it does continue the trilogy’s story and I usually group such series together)
© 2018 S.G. Liput
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