Greg Eichelberger reviews 'Pirates Of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales'

By: 
Greg Eichelberger
Staff Writer

Greg Eichelberger reviews "Pirates Of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" (2017)

Since the box office revenues keep increasing for each sequel (even while the critical ratings continue to go down), it's easy to seen why yet another edition of the "Pirates Of the Caribbean" film has been made. It's not logical, but it's easy. And this latest version is no different than the rest of the series, loud, colorful action, sailing ships, intrigue, searches for mythical items (the Fountain Of Youth, Davy Jones's heart, the Edge Of the World, etc.), monsters from the deep and, always — and I mean always — Johnny Depp ("Alice Through the Looking Glass").
In 2003, when the original was released, I praised it as an amazingly original and superior fun/action/adventure in a review for the Internet Movie Data Base as well as a San Diego news publication for which I was writing, stating: "Based on the wildly popular ride at Disneyland, which, in turn, was inspired by an episode of the 1950s TV series, 'Davy Crockett,' the plot has Depp as the leading man — the bumbling, mascaraed pirate captain Jack Sparrow of the ship, 'The Black Pearl.' Marooned on a deserted island as the result of a mutiny, he thus missed out on the curse in which the vessel was plagued.
"Picture is also peppered with not only sharp, intelligent dialogue not usually found in a Disney film, but features some obvious scenes taken directly from the ride itself. 
"Also, the cinematography (Dariusz Wolski, "Dark City," "The Mexican"), visual effects (Joel Behrens), costumes (Rochelle Best) and makeup (Greg Cannom) are top-notch and spot-on, giving this film a feeling of complete authenticity.
"All in all, 'Pirates of the Caribbean' is a fantastic, wonderful adventure, not unlike the attraction from which it came, one I am proud to say is still one of my favorites. Beware parents of younger children, however, there are some scary sequences and frightening characters as well as some violent scenes which give this movie a PG rating - the first ever for a Disney production."
The picture was so good, most people forget that Depp was actually nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Now, fast-forward 14 years and four sequels (but no more Oscar nods for Depp) later, we're still aboard the Black Pearl (in one form or another; here, it is kept in a tiny bottle on Jack Sparrow's person).
Meanwhile, a pirate-hating Spanish sea captain (are there any other kind?), Salazar (Javier Bardem, "The Last Face" and an Oscar winner for "No Country For Old Men") is hunting Sparrow for dooming him and his crew to the terror of the Devil's Triangle (you see, they become zombies of sorts,you can tell they're the living dead because their faces are stuccoed and their hair blows in slow motion). Salazar needs Sparrow's compass to escape this nether prison to gain his revenge.
This, in turn, leads his to strike a bargain with the now rich and pompous Barbossa (another Academy Award winner, Geoffrey Rush, "Shine"), who promises to deliver Sparrow AND his direction-finder.
Meanwhile, in a completely unnecessary plot line, Will Turner's son, Henry (Brenton Thwaites, "Gods Of Egypt") is attempting to release his father's curse by obtaining the "Trident Of Poseidon," whatever the heck that is. He is aided in that weird quest is Corina (Kaya Scodelario, "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials"). And because she's a supposedly "educated" female in the early 19th century, everyone assumes she's either a witch or a prostitute, ha ha …
When these two ridiculous stories collide, all we're given is an overlap of special effects that concludes with one stolen directly from Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments."
For such a massive undertaking (pun very much intended, what with the walking dead and all), there needs to be two directors, Joachim Rønning ("Max Manus: Man Of War") and Espen Sandberg, "Kon Tiki"), but even a dozen such directors could not steer this lumbering vessel through the rocky shoals of a bad script, sloppy pacing and insensible plot(s). Some kudos can go to cinematographer Paul Cameron ("Westworld" TV series), costume designer Penny Rose (a veteran of the the other four "Pirates"movies) and special effects coordinator John Frazier ("Transformers: Last Knight"), but ultimately, there are not to many kudos to pass around ...
If anything, however, this fifth version proves that neither a change in or even the addition of multiple directors nor a temporarily undead Javier Bardem is enough to save this foundering franchise from sinking and being swamped by a sea of mediocrity.
Grade: D+

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