Friday, May 26, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales {movie review}

"Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil's Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack's only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced."

I've been anxiously awaiting my chance to see this fifth installment in the Pirates franchise. My deep and abiding love for Johnny Depp aside, I love the mix of humour and adventure in these films, and the stories have been fun. I grabbed Boo and took in an advance screening this week, so I could come to you with this review.

So, first the good stuff. The effects in this movie are great. The ghost sailors? Amazing. The way they move is almost dancing, so light and flowy; their composition, with various missing body parts trailing off is completely believable. And Captain Salazar's hair is spectacular. It is in constant, gentle motion, like it is still floating in the waves, even when he's aboard ship. Speaking of ships, you have to see the CGI of Salazar's ship and how it attacks (yes, attacks) other ships. The movie may be worth seeing or the effects alone.

Geoffrey Rush gives a fantastic performance as Captain Barbossa, with a more in-depth character development than we've seen in the past. I was also impressed with Kaya Scodelario as the astronomer Carina Smyth. A strong, independent, intelligent female character on a mission to fulfill her father's quest.

And the not so good stuff. I love Johnny Depp, but I did not feel as drawn to Captain Jack Sparrow in this film as I have in the others. Granted, Sparrow in this film is a washed up, even more drunk than usual, pirate captain, seemingly on his way out. This may account for a less lively portrayal than in the past. Still funny, awesome facial expressions, but not quite so over the top, and really that has always been part of the draw for me.

As well, this movie at times felt like just one big fight scene. I may be misremembering, but it seemed more violent than previous films in the franchise. And there is a LOT of sexual innuendo. That's not new, but it seemed more pronounced. For example, at one point Carina describes herself as a horologist (she studies time), and of course Jack Sparrow and crew mishear this/don't understand what the word means, and on come a series of rather direct prostitute jokes. I think most of the innuendo will go over the heads of young kids, but your tweens will likely get it. Just something to keep in mind. No explicit language is used, and it's probably no worse than what you would hear on TV.

Neither Boo nor I enjoyed this installment as much as we have the earlier films, but we did enjoy it, and if you are a fan of the franchise, do go see it. I may have had too high expectations going in :)  I asked Boo his opinion, and he gave it an 8/10. I think that's a fair assessment.

Disclosure: I received media access to a pre-screening of this film. No compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own or those of my family.

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