Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) und Henry (Brenton Thwaites)
Except this one, I’m guessing

T he phrase “bloated whale carcass” comes to mind. With due respect, of course … among the universal cornucopia of bloated whale carcasses, I hold Pirates of the Caribbean’s bloated whale carcass in the highest of esteem. There is ambergris among that mess. Not much, not often, but a little. I’ve seen five (5) more-or-less forgettable PotC films and I can easily conclude that while this franchise is genius when it comes to makeup, art direction, costumes, special effects and occasional stuntwork (especially humorous stuntwork) … it is positively imbecilic when it comes to pacing, clarity, character development and general plotting. By the general standards of its siblings, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is no different.

Tale-less Dead Men starts simple enough – Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of Ike & Tina wants to free his father from a curse. Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) wants to find the secret magical Trident of Poseidon. Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) is dead, but that’s never stopped anybody in this franchise from hamming it up – and Javier is some Grade A jamón these days; he’s after Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who, in turn, is merely intent on drinking himself into a stupor. Johnny Depp has a ton of scenes with relative tyros Brenton and Kaya and it pretty much amounts to babysitting on camera. So, ok, we have some players and some missions … and then there are more players, like Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Jack’s crew and the red coats. And they have objectives … and then there are even more characters, like Jack’s Uncle (Paul McCartney) and the helper monkey, and Henry’s parents (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley) and they may or may not have objectives, and then there are objects – not only the trident, but Jack’s Sparrow’s compass,which can help find the trident, and Carina’s gem-inlaid book, which holds trident clues, and Jack’s boat, which is supposed to sail fast enough to humble every other ship in the Caribbean, but gets caught by the only two it tries to outrace.

So, let me get this straight –everybody wants this Poseidon’s Fork or whatever, and some are after Carina’s diary and some are after Jack Sparrow’s golden compass, and some more are after his ship in a bottle … just how many MacGuffins were you planning to have in this film? Meanwhile, the plot starts looking like two NFL chalkboards got together and started duking it out. This, and exactly this, is the very heart of the awful behind the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise – every single film in this set seems to question, “Why have one good idea when you can have a dozen lousy ones?”

I’m here to simplify it for you. Here are my keys to watching any Pirates of the Caribbean movie – 1) Everybody who gets put in a cell is a good guy. 2) Everyone in uniform is a bad guy. 3) Everybody who looks definitively dead is a bad guy, but 4) Everybody who just looks kinda dead is a good guy. 5) Everything in the “Caribbean” is a thirty-minute boat ride from everything else. Does this have something to do with being in El Lay? If I lived there, would I assume the world works like that? 6) Don’t bother paying attention to any dialogue whatsoever with respect to motivation. It doesn’t matter. 7) Do pay attention when Johnny Depp says something; occasionally it’s funny. 8) Don’t bother with anything that has to do with romance or mutiny or panning shots of boats on calm seas; there isn’t anything there worth the very expensive cinematography. 9) Do pay attention during an action scene; some of those are a blast. 10) Above all, get a good nap in whenever you sense a plot developing. Believe me, this will make a tremendous amount of difference when it comes to the enjoyment of these films.

You know, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland was always about 45 minutes too long as well.

I didn’t hate Dead Men Tell No Tales, but I applied these rules liberally for the past two films. In this one, there’s a bank robbery early on with a team of horsemen dragging an entire building through a small town with Depp on top  It’s a hoot. How anyone planned to escape while dragging a two-story building is beyond human comprehension, but this franchise ain’t much for explanation.  Luckily, I sensed plot as soon as the action quit and managed to get in a few winks before the movie could work its confundo spell. Unlike the miserable Transformers franchise, I don’t necessarily wince at the prospect of Pirates 6, but I sure don’t encourage it, either.

♪Oh, no
Some corpse walking ‘round from a sea funeral
Not another sequel, why the soul sold?
God, it’s getting started; I could tiptoe, away, ya

Waste time on the open sea; just waste time until act III
This film’s humility-free; the only Deppth here’s Johnny
It’s a Bruckheimer fantasy, deliver cash stacked past his knee
But this movie’s stupidity makes Bratz look like Marty

Walk with me, baby
Rather be blind than I see see it again, whoa-oh
Might lose my mind from endless CGI
Ah ya ya ya ya That screwed-up notion
Mistake on the ocean♫

Rated PG-13, 129 Minutes
D: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
W: Jeff Nathanson
Genre: Cosplay lives!
Type of person most likely to enjoy this film: The kind of person Johnny Depp visits in the hospital
Type of person least likely to enjoy this film: The kind of person who grudgingly realizes without an ounce of mirth that this is the best thing Johnny Depp does these days

♪ Parody inspired by “Cake by the Ocean”

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