Verdict: Pretend that there was only three Pirates movies. You’ll be much happier.
The Good: The music I guess? Also Javier Bardem was good.
The music? I guess?
Javier Bardem had the best performance of the film, pouring way too much talent into a part that didn’t deserve it.
The Bad: Everything else.
Let’s start with the performances. The veteran supporting cast of the franchise, including Kevin McNally (Gibbs) and Martin Klebba (Marty) feel completely underutilized. They are included because they always have been, but its clear the script isn’t sure what to do with them. They shuttle from scene to scene, doing the best with what they have. Ultimately, their characters feel tired.
Geoffrey Rush (Barbossa) is as charming and bombastic as he’s always been, but his character’s presence in the narrative is confusing and inconsistent. Barbossa is a trope of his former self, simply going through the exact same motions he did in the original trilogy. The only new addition to his character comes far too late in the film, so its resolution feels forced rather than organic.
Orlando Bloom (Will Turner) was a sight for sore eyes, and like Rush, fell right back into character. Except that we only see him for about 2 minutes of total screen time. Yet in that 2 minutes, an entirely new version of Will Turner is presented. An entire film’s worth of change is shoved onto him in the first minute of the film. While Rush and Bloom are clearly in the film to help shepherd in a new generation, their own characters are so mismanaged by the script it’s distracting.
Speaking of the new kids on the block, Brenton Thwaites (Henry Turner) and Kaya Scodelario (Carina Smyth) were perfectly fine. While neither were breakout performances, they did the best with what they had. Unfortunately, they lacked the chemistry that made Will and Elizabeth so endearing for three films. This wouldn’t be such a problem if the movie wasn’t forcing them into a similar narrative.
Which brings us to the biggest problem: Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow). The performance and character is entirely too predictable. What used to be funny and fairly novel now feels lazy. The character is written as a meme of itself, and Depp feels more removed than ever. There isn’t much more to say here. It’s time for this character to be retired.
This brings us to the script. There are far too many stories being told for one movie. The result is shallow development, and a story that only moves forward because it’s told to. A fundamental flaw is the seemingly constant need to present a world threatening crisis. The result is a weakening of every past plot line. You’re far better off pretending there have been no past movies, and each one is completely independent.
There’s also uninspired visuals, weak CGI, and worn out action sequences. But those aren’t the crux of the issues, and nobody seems to care. These movies keep making money (albeit less money every year) because they have fantastic marketing. It’s time we stop being duped.
The Ugly: Lazily written “strong” women characters
Carina Smyth is written as the “not-Elizabeth” character. She’s a woman of science, a horologist, astronomer, mathematician, etc. She’s clever and confident, and tires of the idiocy of men and pirates. On the surface, this seems great. In reality, it’s a lazy ploy to separate her from Elizabeth, who was a far stronger character in the end. Most of Carina’s great qualities are instituted so that the men characters can make a joke out of it. Ha-ha, horologist sounds like whore. Fantastic writing. This series needs to take a hard look at the way it treats its women characters, and decide how they are going to treat them.