Back in 2003 people wondered how good can a movie about a theme park attraction be? The answer was pretty good as Gore Verbinski set sail on what would be major lucrative franchise which would yield great booty for Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney. Verbinski was the helmsman for the first three movies and despite him disembarking the franchise in 2007, the franchise did not sink at the box office. The choppy seas of directors was not an issue either as the fifth film retains much of what made the original films quite appealing to an audience as whole.
Anyway, the fifth film of the Pirates of the Caribbean series starts with Will Turner’s (Orlando Bloom) young son (Henry) getting access to the Flying Dutchman, which is captained by Will Turner. Henry tries to convince his father that the Trident of Poseidon will fix the curse (Will is cursed to be the ship’s captain forever) but Will sends him away believing the Trident to be a load of hokum (but a ship that can travel underwater is A-OK). About nine or so years later Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) is still looking for that Trident and knows of one man who can help him, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). However, he’s not the only one looking for Captain Jack Sparrow as a murderous captain named Salazar (Javier Bardem) wants revenge on Sparrow.
Norwegian duo Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning tread safety through chartered waters avoiding creating any ripple on the surface that would disturb producers by going back to a familiar cast and crew. The film also retains much of the hectic excitement of all the previous four films by having the film chockablock with characters (all looking for the same thing) and action set pieces. Whilst this stinks of a film made by committee (and the ‘revolting sight’ that is ending merely proves that) it’s still is quite enjoyable
The reason for this franchise’s ability to be constantly enjoyable (even if the actual quality of the movie varies widely) is the interactions between the characters work pretty well, especially when Jack Sparrow is involved. Back in 2003, Johnny Deep’s performance as Jack Sparrow made Sparrow one of the 21st Century’s most iconic and enjoyable characters and once again he becomes the film’s main selling point. It does, however, feel that Depp is what keeps the franchise afloat as it’s easy to see the franchise hit the bottom of the ocean without Depp on-board
That said the overabundance of characters becomes too much for the Scandinavian directors and screenwriter Jeff Nathanson as Javier Barden’s villain is the most forgettable of the franchise and David Wenham is given a thankless role as a captain of the British navy whose name I have forgotten (and won’t look up to prove a point). The new characters are fine, but perhaps need time to grow, Kaya Scodelario is perfectly fine but Brenton Thwaites still needs to do more to convince me that he a potentially good leading man.
The film’s rushed finale dampens the first two acts, and the emotional climaxes at the end of the film don’t feel earnt and slide towards feeling tacked on to satisfy the committee’s demands. The first film caught the wind in its sails, but since then the wind has slowly died down and looks calm for the near future. Its not all hands on deck more a causal sail through a calm night (as long as Depp doesn’t walk the plank).