As I sat through the closing credits for a movie I had just watched but barely understood, hoping to see a stinger promising a sequel to a picture I more or less hated, I realized that I hate myself.
What else would explain why—after two-plus hours of randomly agglomerated computer generated nonsense tied loosely together by the mincings of an actor who long ago stopped putting any real thought into the character he is trotting out now for the fifth time—I remained in my seat, waiting to see if Captain Jack Sparrow would grace us with his presence once more? Assuming, that is, Dead Men Tell No Talesdoes as well as its predecessors at the global box office.
That's a shockingly high hurdle to clear, by the way. The last three Pirates of the Caribbean movies have all either earned a billion dollarsat the worldwide box office or gotten this close. It's the film series with the greatest commercial success that I've seen the least of: The only Pirates I've seen in full is the original, 2003's Curse of the Black Pearl. So, uh, I was a bit nervous about heading into the theater for Dead Men Tell No Tales. Would it make sense to me, the near-novice? Would I be able to follow the action?
Well, no. Not really. It remains unclear to me whether or not this is the fault of my ignorance or simply the seemingly haphazard way in which the story is stitched together.
The film opens with a young man going underwater to find his cursed father, Legolas Turner (Orlando Bloom). Forever trapped on a ship that resides underwater for some reason, young Son-of-Legolas decides he must find the Trident of Poseidon in order to break the curse. And to find the Trident, he must find Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). But that takes him about ten years or so, since the next time we see him Son-of-Legolas, a/k/a Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) is on the high seas, serving aboard a British vessel that gets destroyed by a ghost ship helmed by Captain Thalathar (Javier Bardem).
Thalathar is also interested in Jack Sparrow—or possibly Jeff Barrow, or Jath Parro, maybe; it's hard to say what, exactly, Mr. Bardem is getting at half the time—and spares Turner's life because he leaves one survivor from each wreck to pass along the story since DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. That's the name of the movie, remember. DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. Just in case you didn't remember that, we hear the line again later. At least once. Maybe twice? If you take nothing else away from Dead Men Tell No Tales, it'll be that DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. I can assure you of that much.
Anyway, Thalathar and Son-of-Legolas and also the feared pirate king Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) are looking for Jack and the Trident. Meanwhile, Carina Smith (Kaya Scodelario)—the film's token attractive, corset-wearing, super-independent-and-totes-brainy-you-guys lady—wants the Trident too. Though, why, exactly, she desires the trinket was never quite clear to me. Something about finishing her father's work? In addition to a magical trident, as well as a magical ruby hiding a magical map to the aforementioned magical trident, there's also a compass that points to whatever one's heart desires. Don't make me try to explain the compass. It don't matter. None of this matters.
So what does matter in the world of Dead Men Tell No Tales? Fathers and sons, sons and daughters—it's all about family, man. It's like a piratical Fast and Furious, in that regard. Equally stupid, too.