If you weren’t able to work it out from the title (or the image above) this is a review for Pirates of the Caribbean 5, otherwise known as Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, also known as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead men tell no tales. The reason for two equally forgettable subtitles is currently unknown but could possibly be connected to trademarks or cultural connotations. Whatever the reason it’s no less annoying when you search for a film online and face a barrage of confusion with titles.
The latter title seems like typical POTC and is about intriguing as a freshly warm present from a pet puppy. Dead men and walking corpses are not exactly original in this franchise and Dead Men Tell No Tales could practically have been the title of any of them. Salazar’s Revenge at the very least is a title you could hear and just about recall the plot (what there is of it) even if you’d struggle to differentiate this film from the rest of the series in a couple of film’s time. But then that’s not really the point with POTC. As with much longer running film series James Bond, this is a winning money-making formula where originality and memorability don’t matter on a film by film basis but meeting the expectations of the genre and the direction of the series as a whole wins fans. Even fans of James Bond films would struggle to match a plot with a title but they remember lines, they remember iconic characters and they remember weapons and gadgets.
POTC5 is a curious beast. It’s a bit of a jumble of other elements from previous films and in my opinion it is littered with many great moments and fantastic scenes that don’t join up to make a good movie. It’s difficult to explain why this is because so much of it is very enjoyable, the special effects are good, the moments that are supposed to be tense are tense and some of it is very very funny. It’s also very silly and nonsensical but then you don’t watch these films if you don’t like Johnny Depp goofing about and guffawing whilst his character experiences ever more bizarre danger. If you expect thought-provoking, high-quality comedy drama then you are going to be disappointed. To enjoy this film you must switch off and lighten up, sometimes a bit of escapism is ok…. although I would argue if you have to switch off your whole brain just to enjoy a film, it has failed completely.
POTC5 may not be completely switch off and don’t resuscitate for two hours but it is pretty close. As with other films in the series the character motivations never quite add up, the laws of the universe change constantly for the convenience of the plot and the story is completely stupid but the makers’ intention is clearly to provide beginning to end excitement in the form of comedy, outlandish stunts or dramatic story-telling. The trouble is that it misses this target. There are some genuinely boring moments because the film struggles to keep that pace for over two hours. There are even a few wtf moments that come out of nowhere and contribute nothing to the film. This would be one of the biggest issues with this addition and others in the series; the lack of bin feed littering the editing room floor, those editors should have been up to their knees in the absolute guff filmed if not for a few stars who would be a little displeased.
But there are some good things going for this film. I found much of it very funny and if you ignore the factual inaccuracies very entertaining. There is even some strong acting talent with Javier Bardem receiving most of the praise from other critics. Depp is undoubtedly a good actor but he spends the whole film doing his usual OTT silly camp pirate impression, which you either love or you hate. I think this is one of the better films in the series but I’m not going to remember watching it in a year from now. If you fancy a trip to the cinema and you have money to burn for the inflated ticket price you could do worse than watch this and get exactly what you expect. Or you could stay at home and stick something on the TV or Netflix.