Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 is entertaining in all the wrong ways (if you can forgive its total incompetence).
“Find Yack Sparrow for me and relay a message, from Captain Salazar. Tell him: death will come straight for him. Will you say that to him, please?”
Perhaps the single most laughably awful thing I’ve seen since Independence Day: Resurgence. Is it possible to have been unimpressed by every aspect of this film and yet still come away feeling unintentionally entertained? Its very existence feels insulting – whether it’s that bloated $300M+ budget that would’ve have been put to better use on almost any other film, or the way it enables Johnny Depp to continue profiting from the same once-funny-now-irritating schtick he’s been peddling for 15 years. To brand it ‘so bad it’s good’ with a wry smile and swiftly move on isn’t possible here. There’s really no excuse for a film to be this poorly made yet this well funded. It firmly puts the “guilt” in guilty pleasure.
Compare it to another Disney-produced adventure set on the high seas, one made in the early noughties on an astronomically large budget at the time. Based on today’s blockbuster standards, The Curse Of The Black Pearl had no right to be as great as it was – birthed from a studio’s cynical attempts to further monetise a theme park ride and sculpted into one of the most enduringly entertaining big screen adventures of the last two decades. Audiences were captivated by a tale brimming with danger, romance, mystery and swashbuckling theatrics – all set to the toe-tappingly infectious tune of Klaus Badelt & Hans Zimmer’s iconic musical backdrop. What followed was a string of increasingly bloated, self-indulgent sequels wielding diminishing returns – but the sheer audacious brilliance of the original remains untouched.
In many ways, Dead Salazar’s Men Tell No Revenge feels like a last ditch attempt to recapture that charm – inspired by the way The Force Awakens successfully played off Star Wars nostalgia back in 2015. The problem here is it seems they’ve forgotten how to make a Pirates film. Directors Sandberg & Rønning and whatever executive committee helped ghost-write this CGI-heavy mess cram in as many familiar tropes as they can (drunk Jack, selfish Jack, lovelorn sidekick, strong independent woman™ love interest, douchebag Jack, manic chase scene, slapstick violence, wig-bearing British navy antagonists, sleazy Jack, black magic and multiple uses of the word “accord”) – but no matter how many times that magnificent score plays, you’re never fooled into thinking this is a natural extension of that film you fell in love with. It’s a copy of a copy of a copy, a diluted down shell that has zero interest in developing its characters out of the stereotypes they’ve been written into, and plenty of time for: MacGuffins, repetition and the kind of big, effort-consuming set pieces you probably saw in all of the bland blockbusters that disappointed you last summer.
It’s entertaining in all the wrong ways – if you can forgive its complete incompetence. Come for whatever misguided sense of hope is compelling you to watch it, stay for cringe-inducing romantic back-and-forths, Geoffrey Rush continuing to defy his age, Orlando Bloom getting out-acted by a child and Javier Bardem rambling maniacally about Pirates(!), Rage(!!) and Yack Sparrow(!!!).
I have no idea whether this is supposed to be called Salazar’s Revenge or Dead Men Tell No Tales (or why it seems to have both titles) and have no plans on actively searching for the answer to that either.