June 5, 2017

#PiratesLife: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Piracy became a part of my life the day I walked out of a theater in 2003 with my mind buzzing and
heart singing. I don't mean the theft of film, literature, or other copyrighted material, or that I ran off to the coast to rob poor folks at sea. What I'm referring to is the impact Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl had on the creative facets of my writing soul.

It sounds a little over the top, but the truth is, I was immersed in age of sail history at the time, thanks in part to the Patrick O'Brian book series, Master and Commander, and its film. A historical buff, I could not get enough of this new-to-me world of pirates and adventure. It validated in some mystical way my love for the water, whether it be lake or sea.

The Curse of the Black Pearl lit a fire I hadn't felt since I was seven years old, taking in Star Wars at the old drive-in movie. The originality and brilliance of the Pirates story and the infinite possibilities of future adventures sent me straight to the upper floors of the city library's reference section, where I dove into old West Indies diaries to explore the world of the Caribbean and study the good, the bad, and the ugly of piracy during the 18th Century.

With this background, and a few pirate stories of my own under my belt, understand that I wait with breathless anticipation for each new Pirates of the Caribbean installment. Besides feeling a little bewildered after Dead Man's Chest, I have never been disappointed.

The latest edition, Dead Men Tell No Tales, has now premiered, and I loved it. Seriously, you cannot have fun spending time with Jack Sparrow and those pirates of the Caribbean!

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
 (Spoiler alert) 

Henry Turner, son of Will Turner, is determined to break his father's curse. Dwelling beneath the Caribbean as captain of Davy Jones' ship, Will Turner has given up on ever escaping his fate to join his family on land. Henry knows the story, and he believes if he finds the mysterious Jack Sparrow, together they can find the legendary trident of Poseidon that holds the power of the sea and set his father free.

Jack Sparrow's piracy career is pretty much in shambles a decade after his adventure with Will and Elizabeth Turner. Broke, crew-less, and captured by authorities in St. Martin, he crosses paths with young Henry Turner and the curious Carina Smyth, a scientist accused of witchcraft. The three commandeer a ship in pursuit of a quest that will save Turner's father, reveal Carina's past, and restore Jack's ship, the Black Pearl, from her imprisonment in a small, glass bottle.

Of course, the mission is cursed from the start, because Jack's drunken trade of his powerful compass releases a vengeful specter from the past. The Spanish captain, Salazar, whom Jack defeated as a young pirate, is on a mission to rid the ocean of pirates and execute Jack Sparrow. This draws the reigning pirate of the seas, Captain Barbossa, back into Jack's life, and the two tentative mates with their young friends resurrect the Pearl and battle their way past dead men and the Royal Navy to the tomb of Poseidon.

I enjoyed the new setting of St. Martin in this film's opening, clearly defined with historical shots of the settlement, the people, and the government. The contrast between respectable society and a pirate's life is contrasted with color and humor (and sometimes a little colorful humor). While some of the old crew was missing, my heart ached to see the Black Pearl sail again, so I was delighted she was brought back into the story with our favorite monkey, Jack.

Captain Salazar and his crew are brilliantly done; including the storyline, the setting, his unique ship, and the madness that drives him with a horrific bloodlust and sharks. (There are some cool man-eating ghost sharks to make your heart skip a beat). The floaty effects Salazar carries as a walking drowned-man along with the fantastic acting made me almost sad to see him defeated.

There is something magical, and that's what we need in a curse, in the trek to the mysterious location that hides Poseidon's tomb. The visuals in the climatic scenes are amazing. One could really believe there is a whole new world beneath the sea. The connections of the story plot, the surprising and clever connections between the characters, and even the demise of a favorite pirate that left me in tears, were a happily-ever-after bow on top of another great Pirates package that I'm sure I'll watch again and again.

My only disappointments were some weaknesses in the writing and a few missing familiar faces. I was a bit let down to find that Jack Sparrow has spiraled down from clever and drunk into a hot mess of drunk and stupid. Granted, he still retains his old charm, and every now and then we do glimpse the pirate we saw in the first adventure. 

For example, there is a poignant moment in a scene between himself and Barbossa where he deduces the paternity of young Carina Smyth, and one can almost feel the respect of an old friendship between the two, even as Jack tries to blackmail his frenemy into freeing him for a higher purpose. However, in the end, the wit and intense creative ability Jack has to successfully escape a pickle seems to elude him in this episode, and I was left shaking my head at the continual bellowing and dumb luck.

Another let down (cue Sad Face emoji) was the apparent death or defecting of Pintel and Ragetti. The comedic relief pair whom I absolutely adore did not even make mention, and I think the film suffered from this because it left Captain Jack to take up the responsibility. It just didn't work. That being said, I do love the new face of Henry Turner, who falls naturally into the role of the Turners' son, and I was absolutely thrilled with the surprise appearance of the breathtaking Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightly) as well as her stunning gown. (The costuming in this film is amazing as usual!)

Am I open to another Pirates? Of course I am, which is a good thing, because rumors are there is another in the works. If you want a hint about what's next, make sure to wait until the end of the credits for a tantalizing Easter Egg.

Stay balanced,
Danielle Thorne


Sherry Fundin said...

I love pirates, but I do much better with the written word than I do movies.
sherry @ fundinmental

Danielle Thorne said...

I have to agree with you there; literature has more scope, depth, and opportunities for adventure. :) Thanks for visiting!