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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – beating a dead fish?

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Yes, I am a Johnny Depp fan. However …

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (images courtesy Walt Disney Pictures)

Some history may be important here. Walt Disney Studios’ Pirates of the Caribbean film series started with their first release on the big screen in 2003 with The Curse of the Black Pearl, After the first film’s success, Disney revealed that a trilogy was underway. The franchise’s second film, subtitled Dead Man’s Chest, was released three years later in 2006; the sequel proved successful, breaking financial records worldwide the day of its premiere. Dead Man’s Chest ended up being the No. 1 film of the year. The third entry in the series, At World’s End, followed in 2007. Disney released a fourth film, On Stranger Tides, in 2011 in conventional 2D, Digital 3-D and IMAX 3D.

Okay, now onward! The new installment, Dead Men Tell No Tales, opens with a young boy … well, let’s say sort of drowning himself. This young sailor, Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), is determined to free his father, Will (Orlando Bloom), from a watery cursed existence. Based on Henry’s life at sea he believes the notorious Jack Sparrow (Depp) will help him find the Trident of Poseidon to break the curse that imprisons his beloved father.

By happenstance Turner crosses paths with Jack Sparrow — a much older and drunker pirate than Henry expected. Oh, and at the same time he of course simultaneously meets a young woman imprisoned for witchcraft; Carina Smith (Kaya Scodelario), who claims to coincidentally have a map; “The Map No Man Can Read” that will lead them all to Poseidon’s Trident. Why, by chance does she have this map you ask? Keep asking until more than halfway through the movie.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesThis tale unfolds before it makes sense. Carina has a diary with a map to find Poseidon’s Trident. Now we know we are headed for an adventure to find the Trident. We already know why we need it and we know what will happen if and when they find it.

Henry Turner, who you must know by now is the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) from the first three films, falls in love with Carina; don’t look for overt affection or deep proclamations of love between the two. Romance between the actors is shallow and limited.

The plot thickens after Sparrow robs a bank in the most peculiar kind of way; in the vault, out of the vault. Slapstick at its best as drunk Sparrow sidesteps roofs, ladders and guards to get away. Good old Jack, Henry and Catrina have to deal with a ghostly Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), damned to spend a ghostly eternity underwater by Sparrow. Here’s where things move quickly: Salazar is so angry at the pirate for his predicament that goes on a rampage, destroying Captain Barbossa’s (Geoffrey Rush) fleet of pirate ships.

As I said in my open — big fan of Jack Sparrow. Depp has always been to make me laugh and enjoy his character’s escapades. But in Dead Men Tell No Tales, I was barely amused. The great Jack Sparrow is but a “ghost” of himself in the film, not actually leading the action; rather the franchise is now leading him. The actual scary part was the young Sparrow scene. It left the question: Did they just use a computer-generated image of Johnny Depp’s airbrushed face merged onto a young boy’s image? Creepy.

The best part by far was the cinematography of computer-generated images of ghost pirates, birds and sharks. I loved the open concept used to portray the bodies. Not just words, stones or water flying at you but you can experience being surrounded by the bodies of the dead that are here but not here. Cool effects.

There may be another and yet another Pirates of the Caribbean story to be told. However, for Dead Men Tell No Tales, the treasure was found in the CGI.

Summation: Rum and hum drum.


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