Ok – so I’ll shoot straight as Gary Cooper in SERGEANT YORK with you. While watching the film I was fairly entertained. I love the Verbinski trilogy, the last one – not so much – and as the film played – Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem held my interest, but Geoffrey Rush lacked energy and interest in his role it felt like. When I was asked for comments by the studio rep – at that juncture I was like, “Best non-Verbinski PIRATES flick yet!” Now I know, that’s very sleight praise or a massive condemnation depending how you feel about the original trilogy.
But as Father Geek and I hit late night traffic on the way home, the film started turning to ash in my throat. The script is as clunky as a toy chest of Legos. And far less interesting. While I physically enjoyed watching Javier Bardem as a Floaty Ghost – visually handled very much like Santi from Guillermo’s DEVIL’S BACKBONE – in effects only. Not with any real melancholy or dread or sadness. The Salazar story is a real let down. The character and performance by Bardem, fun, but what they did with him. Not so much.
You see, had the film been about Sparrow and Salazar – it might’ve been something special, but they insisted on squeezing in people that just can not hold the screen.
Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario are about as interesting in this movie as the young actors in INDEPENDENCE DAY RESURGENCE – maybe… ever so slightly better – but you know how in IDR – you’re happy to see the old team back together? But Emmerich & Devlin seemed more interested in their rotten younger cast, that they try to make us care for by making a few of them the progeny of the originals? Yeah, they try that bullshit here too.
SO – the story opens with a little boy we don’t yet know who is – who attempts to drown himself to talk with his Dad – who ends up being cursed Will Turner – having taken Davy Jones’ place upon the Flying Dutchman. It’s actually a neat scene. Even with face barnacles – Orlando Bloom has 10,000 times the charisma as his clean faced “son” Brenton Thwaites – who I did enjoy as Bek in GODS OF EGYPT and his micro-involvement as Prince Phillip in MALEFICENT. Here… he has nothing to do but open his eyes real big. He’s got shit dialogue and no real character development.
Kaya Scodelario is the “Witch” who just practices SCIENCE in a world of idiots – so it ought to have been a character I liked quite a bit – except… Again, she has very little quality lines or scenes – though she says a lot and is in a whole hell of a lot of scenes – kinda bored.
The big quest is for an all powerful trident that is basically lame by the end of the film. The third act is real real crap. It actually drains the magic from the series as a whole. Not just that, but makes me not want to see another episode at all.
I would have liked more from David Wenham’s Scarfield character – he picked things up everytime he was onscreen. Depp’s Sparrow is becoming more and more cartoonish – and I’m utterly fine with that – he’s the joker in a deck of cards – able to transform any disaster into a fortunate disaster for himself. Kinda, sorta – and it’s fun to watch him doing silent movie gags in the modern world of film – and the audience gasp never knowing that Keaton was there first. But hey – that’s the bright spots of the movie. Buster Keaton moments – the film series misses Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom.
The film has no Swashbuckler – no Tyrone Power, no one that can off balance the Pirate Jester King of the Caribbean. SO – while I was driving home, the general good will I gave the film completely ran out. Can I now say it is better than the 4th film? I’m really not sure. And man, I don’t care enough to watch that dreary mess again. HOWEVER, the silver lining is that the night before I saw the film, I re-watched Verbinski’s TRILOGY and it plays better than ever. Amazing what can happen when the visionary behind the series exits.
I came home from the screening, meaning to eviscerate the film as being like The Curse of the Black Pearl. A series that may live forever, but everything savory about it has turned to ash upon the tongue and guts. But before I could write, I saw that TEST PILOT with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy was on TCM – I’d never seen it – and that was more important. TEST PILOT filled me with so much joy, that when I saw BOOM TOWN was playing next – I decided to cuddle with the memories of watching that film with my mother and her tales of Big Harry (my great grandfather) and the Burkburnett fields of the Oil Rush days.
Movies are amazing vehicles – This latest film only serves to remind you of how magic it once was – and how fucking sad it is that the magic is finally gone compleltely. Now Dad is still happy with it, though he concedes every point and disappointment I had – because he just can’t hate a film with this much cool imagery. That’s what I left out of the review so far.
There’s some stunning visual effects work here. The undead sharks are awesome Pirate Ghost Hounds of the Seven Seas. I think there’s a film here that can absolutely be enjoyed, but once you start thinking upon the film and the original trilogy – and the constant feeling of WOW those films had, this just didn’t have that pacing, sense of direction. I mean – watch those original three films and you’re in character heaven. Running deep into the casts. Loving every character, the background gags, the callbacks to the ride and other pirate films as well. This one just left me flat.
Shame to end the series in a film as unremarkable as this one.
Keep it cool,