[This Review Contains Spoilers]
Originally Posted June 27th, 2017
I was INSANELY pumped for this movie. The first Pirates of the Caribbean film (The Curse of the Black Pearl) is one of my top 20 favorite movies of all time. It is nearly a perfect film; its characters are fun and lively, the story is engaging and interesting, and the action setpieces work marvelously. Unfortunately, the sequels really did not even come close to reaching that level of filmmaking. They were overly convoluted with an overabundance of CGI and uninteresting, boring stories. They also got the character of Jack Sparrow wrong. They certainly weren’t awful movies, but they were not good either in my humble opinion.
The trailers and what I had heard about the production of this film had me hyped. It was clear from both of those that they were going for the look and feel of the first film. The fact that they had cast Javier Bardem as the villain also greatly intrigued me. Unfortunately, this film is not as good as the Curse of the Black Pearl. I really enjoyed watching it, however, and I think it improved many of the bad elements of the sequels.
Firstly, the character of Jack Sparrow is definitely improved here. He’s not as fantastic as he was in the first film, but he is not just a bumbling idiot who “accidentally” succeeds like he did in the last three movies. He has moments like that, which was disappointing, but there were a few that really made him look like the Sparrow of old, who was hardcore, clever, and occasionally silly in a lovable way. If they do decide to make a sequel to this, they really need to focus on improving him even further.
The side characters were awesome in this movie as well. In On Stranger Tides, some of the characters felt like an afterthought, like the writers knew that they needed side characters and wrote them in two seconds. The side characters work far better in this movie; Henry and Carina were fantastic and I actually really cared about both of them. Barbossa was also a major bright spot. Salazar, played by Bardem, was a cool villain with very clear motivations and I enjoyed his presence.
The action was really fun as well. There was definitely a lot more practicality in the setpieces than there was in the sequels. I would have liked the action to have had more emotional weight to them, though, and I felt that the only time where that was the case was in the last half hour. There was nothing insanely remarkable about the action and it was not quite as good as it was in the first movie, but I still enjoyed it.
The special effects have always been a staple of this franchise, and I would say that this film has the best. The ship-to-ship battles looked phenomenal and the CG for Salazar’s pirate army also looked a lot better than I thought it would.
However, generally, this movie was incredibly messy. There are far too many subplots and the film felt extremely bloated. The last 30 minutes were absolutely phenomenal, but the rest of the movie dragged along without anything really happening. I loved Carina being Barbossa’s daughter and thought that his death was actually really emotional, but I wanted even more of that. The way they searched for the Trident of Poseidon was also ridiculously convoluted to the point where I honestly do not even fully understand it. A lot of things are left unexplained as well; for example, The Devil’s Triangle was never explained and I guess that we were supposed to accept the fact that it just curses people.
The humor also did not fully work for me. The first film was clever and was extremely funny, and this movie has moments like that. But there were a lot of jokes that really did not land.
All in all, I was disappointed by Dead Men Tell No Tales; it should have been slimmed down and simplified. The last half hour, like I said, was absolutely awesome. I just wish the whole movie could have been like that.