Confession time, folks. I have never seen a Pirates of the Caribbean film. Ever.
That’s actually a lie.
I have seen the first Pirates film and possibly the second one but I don’t remember a single thing from it so it would be impossible for me to compare/contrast this one, which is obviously a lot more fresh in my mind. Looking at the Rotten Tomatoes score for this film, it is currently sitting at a worrisome 32% with an average rating of around 4.7/10 while the audience score is almost a polar opposite at 77% with an average of 4/5 (no, I don’t know why they grade each score differently either but let’s move on). This is the same rating as the installment before this film which was also the first to not have Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. What’s my point with this? Who knows? Let’s dive in, shall we?
The fifth installment of the Pirates franchise sees the young son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), 10-year old Henry (Brenton Thwaites), attempting to locate the Trident of Poseidon after his father is cursed to lead The Flying Dutchman for an eternity. In doing so, he searches for Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) but also encounters the dangerous pirate hunter Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem), who was cursed after ending up in the Devil’s Triangle. We also meet Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a feisty astronomer who is accused of witchcraft and also is there to help our heroes find the trident as well. There’s a lot going on.
What is there to say about this movie? Much like I said in my Fate of the Furious review, this is a movie that is absolutely ridiculous and is well aware of that fact every step of the way. You have to kind of respect that in a film. Sure, it’s not as brilliant as the Furious movie (what am I saying?) in that way but it’s still bonkers and has several very enjoyable high-octane action sequences. Highlights include an early scene in which Sparrow wakes up in a drunken stupor in a safe and then proceeds to steal it but grabs the entire house instead of just the money, a scene in which Sparrow comes dangerously close to being decapitated while stuck to a guillotine during a daring escape sequence and of course the final action scene was a great way to bring it all home as well and even included a few emotional moments.
What were some of the negative aspects? Well, all of the character-reveal moments of the film that were like “hey, look it’s ______ from the ______ Pirates film” fell completely flat for me but it’s hard to criticize the movie for that because I’m the one that didn’t see any of the other films in the franchise. I felt like the chemistry between Henry and Carina wasn’t as strong as it should’ve been and they weren’t very interesting characters either outside of their respective bloodlines. In fact there is an appearance by characters (I can’t give this away) later in the film that is far more impactful than anything involving these two new characters.
The acting is about what you would expect from this franchise. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. Johnny Depp is still having a blast playing Jack Sparrow and relishes every moment of screen time he gets. As I mentioned earlier, Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario don’t have much chemistry together but individually, they give decent performances. I’d say Kaya edges out Brenton and seems to have better comic timing. Old favourites return like Geoffrey Rush playing Barbossa. Although he doesn’t occupy as much of this film as he did in the first one, he does get a good chunk of screen time to go all out and have a blast. The real find of the film is Javier Bardem as the suave villain. Even though his performance involves a lot of makeup and CGI, Bardem shines through it all and makes his character into a memorable and quite surprisingly vicious villain (at least for a Disney movie). Javier is one of those actors who carries a certain pedigree and uses it to his advantage here. It’s nice to see truly acclaimed actors having some fun.
There’s really not a whole lot else to say. If you’re looking for a fun swashbuckling pirate film with lots of cool special effects and a few punchy emotional moments, this is a pretty good choice.
RATING: *** ½
Less than * (Actively offensive to one’s intelligence)
* (Brutal; bottom-of-the-barrel)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)