I think it shows the weakness of the writers of this comic that they keep coming back to kidnapping as a plot device! (Did I say weakness? I meant genius.)
I watched the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie on Netflix, and, man, what a slog. I guess it’s not totally unwatchable, but it’s pretty clear the Pirates franchise is incapable of doing anything beyond retreading the tropes of the first film with diminishing returns. But, you know, I totally get it. That first movie is lightning in a bottle, a refreshingly clever, quirky script that revitalized the dead pirate film genre. It was a big risk that was likely to fail, but instead it became a pop culture phenomenon. Unfortunately, all the sequels have seemed out of touch with what made that first movie work so well. I think one of the biggest problems is that in the first film, Jack Sparrow is a clever person that everyone assumes is an idiot, while in all the sequels Jack Sparrow is a complete moron that everyone assumes is a genius. There’s no longer a sense that the audience is in on Jack’s clever gambits, or that he’s outsmarting his adversaries. Instead, it’s all just bumbling dumb luck. In part 5, the effect seems to have softened a little, because now everyone knows Jack is an idiot AND he acts like an idiot, leading to a character that is basically despised by everyone, including himself. Once again there is a cursed captain out for revenge while also looking to break the curse, and once again Jack is roped into helping some people who would otherwise prefer having nothing to do with him to find some magical trinket.
About the only thing I like in Pirates 5 is the stubborn obsession with lore continuity between the films, even if I don’t much care for the lore itself and its general lack of logic. Jack’s compass is still a point of interest for yet another cursed pirate, and this time the compass displays some new abilities, like reawakening an undead crew when he sells it to a barkeep. The question as to who made this compass or where it came from continues to go unanswered, despite it being the seemingly most sought after magical item in the world. Captain Barbossa is carrying around Blackbeard’s sword from the previous film, which is kind of neat. The Black Pearl is still miniaturized and trapped in bottle through most of the movie (still no explanation given as to how that happened, and the solution for releasing it is hilariously simple). We also get the brief return of Will Turner, still cursed to ferry the dead in Davy Jones’ Flying Duchman. But the weird thing is that he’s apparently gone all barnacle gross, like the old Flying Duchman crew, which is strange, since that the whole barnacle encrusting issue had been resolved at the end of the third film.
The obsession with lore has also brought up the rather bizarre question of the physical passage of time in these films. The main characters that are not Jack Sparrow are the fully grown children of Will turner and Barbossa. I don’t know how old Jack Sparrow was supposed to be in the first film, but at least 20 years must have passed since then. Considering all we know about Jack Sparrow’s history, its hard to imagine he’s younger than 30 in the first film, putting him probably somewhere in his 50’s in Pirates 5. Granted, Johnny Depp actually IS 50-ish now, but considering the lifestyle of pirates, the pirate character he portrays should probably not be as fit and healthy as the millionaire moviestar himself. But, you know, whatever.
The movie does a terrible job explaining why its villain is a villain. He’s literally a guy that hunts pirates and shows them no mercy, which is probably a good thing since pirates are lawless, violent men who pillage, rape, and murder. Even in the Pirates of Caribbean universe pirate crews are shown to have these tendencies. It’s pretty hard to condemn Captain Salazar for wanting to get revenge on Sparrow. If the guy has one major foil, it’s his inability to use his own curse to the best of his advantage. The curse itself seems to make no sense, as we learn that he became undead when killed in a particular cursed location, but we’re shown a ship destroyed in that same location and the crew of that ship seems to have not become undead. Inconsistent curses seem to be a staple of the series at this point, though.
There’s also a scene with a young CG Jack Sparrow that is all sorts of uncanny valley. AND a trident of Poseidon that conveniently ends ALL CURSES EVER when broken, and, LUCKILY, is easily broken! There’s also some veeeery questionable physics applies to nearly every action scenes, possibly more so than the previous films. And there’s Barbossa’s death scene, which makes little sense and doesn’t even seem deadly. I mean, he fell into water, but I guess we’re just supposed to assume he died. I’m pretty sure Geoffrey Rush’s contract ended, so he was probably just eager to get out.
The real question I have is, are we done with Jack Sparrow? This movie has an end credits stinger that seems to imply Davy Jones has returned to terrorize Will and Elizabeth Turner. Considering Depp is a known domestic abuser and alcoholic (there are plenty of rumors about him actually being drunk on set), it feels like Disney would want to start backing away from him as the star of the franchise. I won’t deny that he is what made the first film special, but at this point, Jack Sparrow is just as tired a retread as the innumerable cursed pirate crews that hunt him.Published on by Alex Kolesar