Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, by Albert W. Vogt III

Finally.  Did you know that every film in the current five movie series that is Pirates of the Caribbean is at least two hours in length, on average close to two and a half hours, with the third being nearly three?  That is almost fifteen hours of your entire life that you would have to devote to watching them all, and that is not even mentioning the fact there is a sixth one in the works!  Stop watching these movies, people!  They are not good!  Instead, rely on yours truly, and The Legionnaire, to help inform your cinematic decisions.  Read these reviews, laugh at the ridiculousness, and then tell your friends how silly you think these movies are overall.  If you are pressed by others as to whether you have seen, you will have to say no, but you can recommend a great blog that gave you the needed insight.  At any rate, on with the final piece (for now), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017).

In Marvel-esque fashion (fitting, since they are both Disney properties), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales starts by trying to get you to think about timelines.  Okay, so it has been thirteen years since the events of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) and Will Turner’s (Orlando Bloom) son Henry (Lewis McGowan) is rowing out not far from shore to where he figures his father’s infamous ship, the Flying Dutchman, is apparently just chilling on the sea floor.  He then throws some weights overboard with a rope tied to it and his ankle, and luckily lands on the deck of the ship.  When the boat surfaces, Will emerges, barnacles covering his face (for some reason), and Henry swears that he will find a way to break the curse that binds Will to the Flying Dutchman.  Henry believes that the trident of Poseidon can do the trick.  Will tells his son to forget such pursuits, and to move on with his life, before departing.  Nine years later, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) is now serving with the Royal Navy in pursuit of a pirate ship.  Henry is out at sea trying to find clues to location of the trident, but his studies have made him knowledgeable of every curse, legend, and tall tale known to the rolling main.  Thus, when the ship they are pursuing enters the Devil’s Triangle, he tries to warn the captain not to follow.  Of course, they do not listen to the prattling of a deckhand because why would anyone worry about a location with such a name?  When everything goes to the expected pot after they are attacked by yet another group of undying pirates (I am so done with this theme), he is the only one left alive.  This brings Henry face-to-charred, ghostly visage of Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem).  He had been an infamous pirate hunter, but some unexplained force has bound him, his crew, and his ship to this lonely aquatic outpost.  Before Henry meets a similar fate as the rest of his shipmates, he tells Captain Salazar that he is looking for Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).  Captain Salazar lets Henry live with this information, telling the young man to inform Jack that the pirate has not been forgotten.  So, where is Jack?  Why, he is in St. Martin, where he and his crew are robbing a bank.  Their plan involves using six horses to drag a safe out of a bank, although they impossibly end up dragging a whole building.  This results in not a single doubloon being left for them to pilfer, and the crew abandons him.  A dejected Jack, now penniless, walks into a tavern and trades his famous compass that points to what he desires the most for a bottle of rum.  Somehow, this frees Captain Salazar and his literal skeleton of a ship to take to the seas one more and hunt pirates.  News of this reaches the apparently quite successful Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who is soon visited by Captain Salazar.  To spare himself and his crew, he says that he can locate Jack.  Captain Salazar wants Jack because as a young pirate, Jack had led Captain Salazar into the Devil’s Triangle, which inexplicably triggered their current curse.  Back in St. Martin, Jack has been captured and is about to be executed, along with a young lady named Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), who is an astronomer but everyone takes to be a witch.  Before they can meet their fate, Henry, along with Jack’s former crew, intervene and rescue them.  They then take to the seas, with Carina and her diary leading the way to the trident, only to soon be caught by Captain Salazar.  Captain Salazar gives chase, driving them onto a nearby island where he cannot go because, conveniently, they cannot set foot on land.  Feeling they need a faster boat, Barbossa, who managed to join them, brings the old Black Pearl out of the little bottle in which Jack had been keeping it.  From there, it is a race to the unmarked land near which is the trident.  When they reach it, there is a brief struggle with Captain Salazar, who briefly controls it.  Eventually, they realize that it must be destroyed to lift all the sea curses.  With this accomplished, the Black Pearl is able to save the good guys, while Barbossa sacrifices himself to allow them to escape.  We end with Will being reunited with his family, including his wife, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley).

Should I talk about the whacky physics in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales?  Perhaps I should explore more the unexplained nature of all these curses?  What about the fact that, once again, Jack is not really the principal character of a film in which he gets top billing?  As an aside, I believe this is why Disney is having few qualms about replacing Johnny Depp in the franchise.  Anyway, these are ongoing themes, so instead I will jump to my Catholic analysis.  The person on which I would like to focus today is Carina.  Setting aside the painfully obvious, tacked on fact that she is Barbossa’s daughter (the only reason this is done is to make his sacrifice at the end make sense), she is an interesting character.  Historically speaking, there is no reason for anyone at this point in time to assume that she is a witch for being able to read the stars, particularly when there is an actual witch in the movie, Shansa (Golshifteh Farahani), with whom no one else seems to have a problem!  As such, why would a woman who is good at mathematics and understands the movement of the heavens raise such suspicion?  The unspoken reason is that the Christian ordered society of that era would have not liked a female speaking their mind, even though the Catholic Church had examples of this for centuries.  Still, there is another left-handed statement about faith and science that is made in the movie when you consider the romance between Carina and Henry.  Carina is dismissive of the legends to which Henry clings, insisting there is a scientific explanation for everything.  For his part, Henry, in addition to Carina’s evident beauty, is attracted by the brains that she applies to finding the trident.  Have you ever seen the Jesus fishes on the back of cars, but the ones that have feet growing out the bottom to indicate that the driver believes in Darwin’s theory of evolution?  I feel this is a fitting metaphor for Carina and Henry’s relationship.  Of course, the foot fish is meant to ridicule Christians who trust that we humans descended from Adam, which is a matter of Faith.  Science says our ancestors were more akin to modern apes, yet the search is still on for that tantalizing missing link.  My issue is not with evolution.  Indeed, the Catholic Church is not at odds with this theory, but rather would point to God as the designer rather than random adaptation.  In any case, I bring this up to point out that our Faith is more of a marriage of science and religion than people think, a lot like Carina and Henry.  Is this the best comparison?  Probably not, but then again, we are talking about a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

At least in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales there are no characters corrupted by the so-called allure of piracy.  Still, in the post-credits scene, we are given an ominous clue as to the finally secure Elizabeth and Will.  With Will shot of the Flying Dutchman, we see him in bed with Elizabeth.  Yet, he dreams of the corruption of his ship haunting him, and when he awakens there are barnacles on the floor beside the bed.  Just leave them alone, please!  But no, they will probably be forced into more nonsensical adventures.


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