Yo Ho Ho! Let’s Try This Again (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, 2017)

Pirates_of_Caribbean_Dead_Men_PosterDead Men Tell No Tales comes six years on the heels of On Stranger Tides, and returns to the territory of the first three films.  We meet a young boy named Henry.  He takes a boat out to sea, ties a rock to his ankle and leaps into the sea.  He is saved by the flying Dutchman.  This is Henry, the son of Will and Elizabeth Turner. He tells his father he thinks he knows a way to undo the curse his father is under.  However, Will sends Henry back.  Several years later, Henry is on the hunt for Jack Sparrow to help him find the Trident of Poseidon.

In his travels, he meets the Ghost Captain Salazar who wants him to give Jack Sparrow a message for him.  Salazar was cursed while trying to kill Sparrow and is now trapped as a ghost.

Henry does find Sparrow, and an accused witch who is also seeking the Trident.  She is not a witch, but rather a very scientifically inclined young woman named Carina.  It becomes a race against time as they search for the Trident, pursued by Salazar and the British.

As previously noted this film came out six years after On Stranger Tides and this film completely ignores the events of that fourth film.  This is not to say they did not happen, but rather they bear no impact and feature none of the characters specific to that film.  And they return things to the Turner family.

It feels like they anticipated this being a final film as it brings everything to a feeling of finality (in spite of a post credit scene that makes little sense in regards to the way the film ends).  The film is packed with numerous action and escape sequences.  There is a thrilling sequence involving ghost sharks.  And the introduction of Jack Sparrow in this film is memorable and entertaining.

It takes awhile to get going, though the film is thankfully only about two hours, making it a lot more fun and less bloated than some of the previous installments.  As always, the visuals are top notch.  Salazar and his crew are crack and missing limbs and parts of their heads.  There is a neat look where Salazar’s hair flows like he is underwater.

And the cast is quite good.  The returning cast each get moments to shine and Javier Bardem appears to have had a lot of fun in his role as the angry and determined Salazar.

While not quite at the heights of the original film, this is still a fairly fun outing.

Yo Ho Ho, It is OVER! (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, 2007)

Pirates_of_Caribbean_Worlds_End_PosterHoly. Crap.  THIS. MOVIE. IS. SO. LONG.

Like, super long. It is ten minutes shy of three hours.

Anyhoo, picking up where the last film left off, the Kraken ate Jack Sparrow and now Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner and Barbossa are trying to rally the troops to find and return Jack from Davey Jone’s locker so they can stop Davey Jones.

And this ends up taking over an hour.  We see Sparrow in the afterlife and boy is he bored.  And frankly?  So was I.  This sequence is just excruciatingly long.  There are so many subplots, it just gets tiring and uninspired.  I found myself constantly wondering about how much longer we had to go.

The films seem to want to position Jack as some magical key to the universe, rather than some lucky idiot.  But really, the whole lunatic rockstar thing is wearing thin at this point.  If you cut about an hour of the film or a little more, this might be a lean and fun adventure.  Instead it makes the the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King look sleek.

Filmed back to back with Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End tries be a massive epic, but it really only accomplishes feeling ridiculously bloated.

The visuals are quite good, as are the action scenes.  But the road the story takes is so meandering as it is hard to not get bored through great portions of this film.

Yo Ho Ho! Let’s Go For Another Ride! (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, 2006)

Pirates_of_Caribbean_Dead_Mans_Chest_Poster“Abandon Ship, or Abandon Hope”, declares Kevin McNally’s Gibbs. Disney was full of hope they had a franchise after the hit of Curse of the Black Pearl. To make sure they could recapture the magic, they kept on the director, writing team and…of course… Johnny Depp and Captain Jack Sparrow.

Will and Elizabeth are engaged, Norrington has left the British Navy and now a bigger threat has arrived.  A man who seeks to destroy the Pirate Scourge.  His first act is to arrest both Will and Elizabeth, though this is a trap to try and force their hand in locating Jack Sparrow.  Who they want because they believe he holds the key to a bigger weapon against all pirates.

Jack Sparrow is finding himself trying to avoid a debt to Davey Jones (who gave him the Black Pearl to captain for thirteen years, even if Barbossa took over a mere two years into the deal). He must serve 100 years upon Jone’s ship the flying Dutchman which ferries those who die at sea to the afterlife.  Bootstrap Bill (Will Turner’s Father) comes to warn Sparrow that his time is up.  But when Davey Jones sends his leviathan beast after Jack, they decide to beach the ship and hide on an island.

Will Turner is searching everywhere for Jack, but the best people seem to be able to do is say where they heard he was headed.  He discovers the shipwrecked boat on a remote island and encounters Jack and the Black Pearl crew. They meet with witch Tia who tells them of a way to defeat Davey Jones, the cursed captain of the Flying Dutchman. Setting out to find the heart of Davey Jones, the crew re-unites, including Elizabeth Swann and the disgraced Norrington.

While Will and Elizabeth are played up to be the thread for the series, Jack Sparrow was the standout character for audiences in the first film, so the writers make sure we got a lot more Jack.  Elizabeth is gone from the film for a good forty-five minutes, stuck in a prison cell. She is relegated to the prize that drives Will, which is rather unfortunate.  Once she joins back up with the crew, she becomes much more active.

The visual design of the film is terrific.  As with the Curse of the Black Pearl, we have cursed pirates, but this time they are more elaborate.  Jones and his crew are connected to the sea so intensely, that they are blended with sea creatures.  Jones’ head is an octopus, with his tentacles serving as a beard.  Bill Nighy is terrific in the role, giving a darkly comic performance.

The film actually brings back almost the entire surviving cast, and everyone seems rather comfortable in their skins.  The film has a lot of fun action sequences and of course many, many narrow escapes.  But the extra focus on Jack also starts to run the risk of making the character more annoying than amusing.  The film also is starting to try and set up an “epic” tale thing for Will, Elizabeth and really Jack.  One character even notes that Will has the air of “destiny” about him.

This film is a lot of fun for the most part, and I would say it comes out pretty favorably in relationship to the first film.

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