This movie was a mess. If I could extract out the beginning and end scenes, I would and simply forgo everything in the middle that had an element of Jack Sparrow in it. Well, most of it anyway.
Henry Turner is on a mission to save his father, Captain Will Turner, bound to the Flying Dutchman to serve for all eternity. Having heard tales of the legendary Captain Jack Sparrow, he sets out to enlist him on his quest. He runs into Carina Smythe (Kaya Scodelario) along the way, who by sheer luck (or weak plotlines), has the map to the trident that can break all curses, which only she can read. Convenient.
Old characters spring up here and there, like Jack’s old crew. It was great that we got to see slightly more of them, although Depp still commandeered most of the screentime. We are barely introduced to new characters, such as Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem) and Scarfield (David Wenham), before we’re swept up in the main storyline.
The storyline raised more questions than answered them. The film constantly picks up new plot points and drops them almost immediately, for example, giving us a hint to Carina’s familial background before dismissing it entirely until it’s required for the climax. We are also only given an explanation to Salazar’s murderous rage midway through the movie. Young Jack Sparrow (poorly CGI-ed), the story of the Black Pearl as well as the the origins of his magical compass is retconned with no explanation.
Scarfield never gets anything more than a few scenes expounding on the greatness of the British Empire. Beyond Henry’s quest to save Will, I know nothing about the nine years since we last saw him. There is too much to cover in too short a time, and the film is either being too ambitious or there were various separate storylines that had to be tied together to form a semi-coherent film.
I could probably name you a few superfluous scenes that did not add to the plot but extended the runtime way past 2 hours. Some were even similar to the previous movies. Jack and his crew chase down a bank (you heard me right) in their opening sequence, having tried to pull off a bank heist that ended in them pulling a building through the town. It was not unlike the scene in the second movie, Dead Man’s Chest, in which Will, Elizabeth, Norrington and Jack spent ages fighting over a key, off Davy Jones’ crew, all in a spinning wheel rolling towards the sea. Personally, I felt the scene was dragged out, boring, and was trying too hard to depict Jack and his crew as the bumbling, fun-loving pirates that they were. They failed.
The movie was also punctuated with awkward bawdy humour that ranged from Jack insinuating that Elizabeth was still in love with him/thinking of him at night to him waiting for Carina to strip down so she could swim to safety. Come to think of it, most of it was from Jack. The once mythical Captain Jack Sparrow has been reduced in this film to a drunk, lecherous, confused version of his former self. I’m not saying he wasn’t all these things previously, but it seems like that this is all he is right now. I’m not the greatest fan of Johnny Depp, but I’ve always loved the character. Past tense.
I heard that a sixth film might be in the works. The setting up of Henry and Carina to take over the series did not go well. It’s still lacking a magical ingredient that made the first three films fun and warm. Jack may have been the humour of the series but the Turners provided the heart. On Stranger Tides already suffered for it, so did this instalment. The producers tried to have Henry and Carina fill this gap, but we are unfortunately not given enough time with them to connect or have them resonate with us.
A saving grace was the soundtrack. Hans Zimmer’s protege, Geoff Zanelli, scored it with many borrowed riffs from the original that really intensified the nostalgia. Other than that, the film was funny at some parts, and the storyline engaging at others. But it was still mediocre at best. The theatre I was in had people walking out midway because they were bored. The storyline was relatively predictable, and plot points were reused from previous films. All in all, I wouldn’t say this was worth heading to the theatres for, if not for the Turners. You were warned.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Things to consider:
Warning: spoilers ahead of this point
- Captain Will Turner, an actual light of the ocean, would not have betrayed his vows and gone all barnacley like Davy Jones. I reject this plot point and how dare you.
- Also, if he was the Captain of the Flying Dutchman and keeper of the dead at sea, why didn’t he just come back and fight alongside Jack and Henry? Major plot hole here if you think that he wouldn’t come back to save his son from possession from a ghost.
- So is his heart in his body or in Elizabeth’s chest?
- What exactly is the origin of Jack’s compass? We learnt that he had bartered it from Tia Dalma previously but now we are told he inherited it and his captaincy from his previous Captain? Wasn’t Jack touted as one of the Pirate Lords in the third film, possessing one of the pieces of eight (that seemed to be given to him as tribute by one of his crew)? Does Disney see these plotholes or do they not care anymore?
- If giving away the compass sends your greatest fear after you, why didn’t this happen when Jack basically gave away the compass to every person he came across in order to fuel the plot in previous movies? A few that come to mind are Will, Elizabeth and Angelica. Salazar should have escaped ages ago.
- Barbossa studied astronomy? Where did the random tattoo of the stars on his forearm come from? Because I sure didn’t see any indication of his predilection for it previously, or in this movie at all, save for the scene in which Carina sees it.
- What is the origin of Poseidon’s trident? If there is a sea goddess (aka Calypso and/or Tia Dalma), why is there also a sea god? Are they related? Were they married? Did Disney forget this plotline?
- How did Davy Jones return to his tentacley self if all curses at sea has been broken?
- Why was Elizabeth all dressed up like her old self in the first film? Who was she dressing up for? Are there other people on her island?
Favourite scene: The final reunion scene when Will comes home to Henry and Elizabeth. I have no words, I was in tears. Can you believe it’s been 10 years since we’ve seen the iconic Captain of the Flying Dutchman and the Pirate King on the screen again? I will stand between them and Davy Jones with nothing but a rusty fork if I have to, they’re not taking this from me again.
What I had wanted to see: More of the Turners, period. Glad to see that Disney has that much budget to hire Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley to play a total of I don’t know, ten minutes in the film. But wouldn’t that be more of value if they had an actual role in the film rather than just baiting the fans? Not just Will and Elizabeth either, I would love to see more of Will and Henry building their father-son relationship. There has to be something more there; Henry wouldn’t just sink himself to the bottom of the sea for a father he barely spoke to. I want all of it.
Random fact: Johnny Depp had rejected earlier versions of the script that featured a female villain, because it was apparently too close to a previous film he did, Dark Shadows (2012). Moviepilot cites Terry Rossio, a screenwriter as a source. We live in such great and forward looking times u_u
Comments and discussions are welcomed by the writer.