The biggest complaint I’ve heard in regard to the fifth outing of the interminable Pirates of the Caribbean series of films is that it suffers from franchise fatigue. While that gripe does carry some merit and is a point that would be hard to argue it shouldn’t be a new sentiment. No, this is a series that suffered from franchise fatigue beginning with the second installment and moving forward. This is nothing new but there are certainly enough other reasons as to why the new Pirates pic fails without trotting out the most obvious one.
The first film, mind you, was no great shakes to begin and this shouldn’t be forgotten when taking these films into consideration. It was tolerable at best and scored best with adults in an extremely positive frame of mind. Impressionable kids made the first one such a hit and now the series seems to be coasting on the nostalgia factor alone, with studio execs hoping that those who have fond memories of the earlier films in the franchise will line up for a new entry seven years after the last one. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell Now Tales, like most of its predecessors, is a big, loud, sometimes soulless and mostly joyless affair but it derives enough energy from the performances of series stars Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush, along with Paul McCartney in an amusing cameo and series newcomer Javier Bardem as the villain, to coast along when stormy waters-pun intended-crop up from time to time. It is absolutely no worse, nor better, than any of the preceding three chapters of this story.
The plot this time out, credited to writers Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning (from a story partially concocted by original Pirates’ scribe Terry Rossio), attempts to bridge the gaps between the first film and the latest one. Here, Henry (Brenton Thwaties), the son of the characters played by Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom in the original film, enlists the help of Jack Sparrow (Depp) to help save his cursed father. Sparrow has troubles of his own as he’s being pursued by a band of ghostly pirates headed by a certain Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem). The answer to all of his problems lies in the fate of locating the Trident of Poseidon. To do so Sparrow must enlist the aid of a young astronomer (Kaya Scodelario), which proves to be convenient when a love interest is needed for young Henry during the proceedings in the latter half of the film.
In case you are wondering and for those interested I’ll mention that this Pirates does have a post credits sequence that points to possible future installments. Whether or not they eventually appear will depend on the box office returns from this Pirates trip. Franchise fatigue be damned, I can almost guarantee we haven’t seen the last of Jack Sparrow.
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