I finally saw the new film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and as I walked from the theater there were some thoughts that struck me. (There may be minor spoilers)
Overall I thought it was an okay film. On it’s own it’s a fun little adventure. But since it is the 5th film of the franchise it asks to be judged as part of the whole In that instance I will say it’s not as good. But I don’t think that’s the fault of this film. It is asking a lot of a film franchise that initially started in 2003 and wasn’t even planned at the time of being a film franchise when the first.
I’ll always say the first Pirates film is my favorite. I still remember seeing the first one in a movie theater up in Alaska where I was spending the summer working at a youth camp. The story of Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan was a compelling one. But with each successive film, it seemed to lose the heart of the first film. By the time of the fourth film On Stranger Tides it really felt like it hit bottom.
I made the comparison on Twitter that Dead Men Tell No Tales feels an awful lot like Rocky Balboa to the Rocky series. The reason why I thought that as I walked out of the theater was because how this film has been somewhat portrayed in trailers as the “final adventure”. It seems to try and “right” some of the “wrongs” of the last film and finish off the story of Jack Sparrow.
For those that don’t remember, Rocky Balboa came nearly 16 years after the last Rocky film (Rocky V). To me Rocky V is one of those movies that doesn’t exist in my personal canon of films because it’s so bad. It was always a bad way to send off Rocky. But then Rocky Balboa released and was a better sendoff to the franchise and the character. And while Creed has spun off and done it’s own thing, there was closure with the Rocky series.
I think On Stranger Tides is the Rocky V of the Pirates series. There is no Will Turner or Elizabeth Swan in that film. The story itself feels a little disjointed and there wasn’t any closure. Dead Men Tell No Tales at least delves back into the history of Sparrow. It helps bring the Turner/Swan story back through Will & Elizabeth’s son Henry (as well we get cameos of Orlando Bloom & Keira Knightly) and we get Jack Sparrow sailing off at the end of the film. Granted given the after credits scene they could spin off and do more with Will/Elizabeth/Henry and Carina in a Creed type spinoff, but I think the story (at least of Jack Sparrow) should end here.
It’s been said of musical or comedy acts that one should always leave the audience wanting more. You don’t want to overstay and the act get boring or not entertaining. In some ways stories can be that way as well. There should be at the end of the story a desire to want more but at the same time leave it to the imagination as to what that more is. Granted it’s a balance between telling more of the adventure and leaving that desire to dream of what’s there.
Could there be more adventures out on the seas for Jack Sparrow? Possibly, but sometimes it’s good to leave those up to the imagination of the audience. There may be a new adventure on the horizon for the Black Pearl but I’m happy to stay in port and remember the old ones.