Lack of memorable scenes
Who doesn't want awesome action set pieces? With its consistent behemoth budgets, the Pirates of the Caribbean films have never been short of spectacle. The Curse of the Black Pearl boasted some of the best ship battles we’d ever seen, Dead Man’s Chest introduced the Kraken, which was eye-catching for its sheer scale and At World’s End had that massive hour-long finale that was excessive, but arresting at the very least.
You’ll struggle to recall any interesting action sequences here, or that of drama or cinematography. It opens with a bank being dragged around a town by some horses – taking a page out of Fast Five. Actually just thinking about the collateral, the scene is more depressing than entertaining. The climactic showdown is amazingly understated for a Pirates installment as well, with little at stake and ending as abruptly as it gets. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear they’d run out of budget, although it has to be said that the splitting of the sea is visually arresting.
Big softies will be glad to know that they are likely to be unmoved. Sentimental scenes try tugging at our heartstrings, like a certain reunion at the end that you'd see coming from the opening sequence. These never quite pay off because the script never gives us time to understand these characters on a more intimate level. It’s constantly concerned with Sparrow’s drunken antics and pirate chatter that when heavier moments get down, they lack the fundamental backstory that give these scenes poignancy.
As long-winded as they are, credit has to be given to the pirate banter that has been a steady highlight throughout the series. The slippery conversations between the pirates are consistently witty and hilarious, as they try to manipulate and trick each other into getting what they want. The humour here is often subtle (something the franchise needs to learn) and in our screening, often different groups would laugh on different occasions. It goes to show that there's humour here for everyone, from baudy jokes to reliable slapstick.
The next voyage...
We don’t quite know if there will be a sixth outing, but radical changes are surely needed in order to set the sails right again. Radical changes like a new protagonist, reimagined tone and setting, whether or not the studios will dare to venture that far out.
Then again, what do they have to lose? These films take in billions, which they’ve evidently started taking for granted. This knowledge should encourage them to take bigger risks in terms of characters and storytelling– to give us loyal viewers something fresh that we’ve never seen before.
Pirates are always fascinating and in a few years time, audiences will certainly want some swashbuckling action. But at the moment, this is a franchise lost at sea.