Arr! Avast ye scurvy 3.5 readers. Trim the main sail and batten down the hatches, fer it’s off to Davey Jones’ locker with ye, arr arr, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum and so forth, arr!
BQB here with a review of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
3.5 readers, it feels like it was just yesterday when the first Disney Pirate film came out. The year was 2003 and I was a young man, filled with vim and vigor and a head full of crazy ideas like “life is fair” and “good things happen to good people” and “the world is a great place” and “hard work always earns a just reward and so on.”
We hadn’t yet entered into the whole “reboot” nonsense, yet sequels were still prevalent, and even then Hollywood was often lampooned for a lack of originality. Even in those days, if one type of film scored big, then you’d soon see a hundred more films just like it.
I didn’t expect much out of that movie. It was, after all, named after a ride at Disney World, and if video game movies always sucked then a ride based movie would surely suck.
But suck, it did not. It was an original, creative, fun adventure that propelled Johnny Depp into super stardom with his ingenious take on pirate Jack Sparrow. Pirates were the rock stars of their day, Depp would opine, and so with a Keith Richards impression, a blockbuster movie franchise was born.
The second and third films were fun, though for me, it was hard to recapture the first film. It was a time in my life when I felt inspired and I was seeing a film that was inspiring.
The series carried on sans Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley), the lovebirds that were inevitably being saved by or were saving Jack. 2011’s On Stranger Tides was, to me, an OK film, but somewhat forgettable. Other than Salma Hayek was in it, I couldn’t really tell you what it was about.
This go around, the stakes are raised and Disney apparently felt a need to bring their A game to keep the profitable franchise afloat. Disney makes mad, crazy cash off these pirates, not just with park rides but also with Disney Cruises featuring “pirate night” where pirates take over the cruise liner and Jack Sparrow saves the day. Thus, these pirate movies will be milked for all they are worth and then some.
In this, the fifth film of the series, young Henry Turner, son of Elizabeth and Will, seeks to remove a curse from his father’s head. To do it, he’ll need the legendary trident of Poseidon, Greek God of the Sea, but naturally, he’ll have to team of with Jack Sparrow to lead the way.
Throw in Henry’s love interest Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a plucky young lady scientist whose intelligence is often seen as a sign of witchcraft by the film’s non-stop avalanche of dullards, villains Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem as a ghostly undead pirate) and fan favorite Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and you’ve got a worthy film that’s a fun ride and will definitely keep audiences interested in as many sequels as Disney deems necessary to dish out.
Still, as I sat there watching it, I yearned for 2003, a time long gone by, a time where the world had yet to say no to just about every last hope and dream I had, and watch that original film – a new kind of adventure the likes of which had yet to be seen on screen, as seen through the eyes of a person who still believed in the general goodness of the world.
Sorry to sound like a bummer. The good news though is that as I looked around the theater, I saw wonder in the eyes of younger viewers, the same wonder I once had.
I guess the good news is that every time a flame in someone’s heart burns out, another flame is lit in someone else’s heart somewhere else.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Worth a trip to the theater. I do miss Will and Elizabeth though as they were key to the original films’ success. I don’t want to give it away, but the movie left me with some hope that those two might return in the inevitable sixth installment. I hope I’m not wrong.