The End of the Adventure? Thoughts on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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.

Carrying Pain: Some Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and it did not disappoint.  There were a lot of great moments in the film and it reminded me why I loved the first one.  It has joy and heart and humor and when it’s serious it connects.  And at the heart of it is hope.

There are a lot of things that could be talked about in this film but there was one point that really resonated with me once I left the theater.  (Minor spoilers but nothing major)

One of the underlying plot points in the film carries over from the first film.  This is the rivalry/fight between Gamora & Nebula.  In the first Guardians, Gamora had the chance to kill Nebula and didn’t.  In this film, Nebula returns at the beginning.  She is first captured by the Guardians and then later escapes.  Later she finds Gamora with the expressed intent of “besting her”.  She comes in guns ablazing (literally) in a spaceship and crashes with Gamora having to save her again.

Later on, Nebula expresses all the rage and anger she had to Gamora was because Thanos would “repair” Nebula with cybernetics when she lost to Gamora and that’s why she hated Gamora.  Nebula raged because deep down she didn’t want to win.  She wanted a sister.  And so that pain built up inside Nebula and made her what she became in the 1st Guardians film and bled into this one.  And Gamora realizes that and tells Nebula that she was just trying to survive.  She didn’t mean to hurt Nebula.  And there’s a great scene where Gamora hugs Nebula and at first Nebula is stiff but finally she returns the hug.

Nebula still carries the pain of her past.  And at the end of the film, she doesn’t let it go just yet as she jets off to go after Thanos.  And Gamora lets her know that she’s welcome with them because she is family.

We all carry pain of some kind.  We are all hurt by people.  Sometimes the pain is unintentional and sometimes unfortunately it’s very intentional.  However we are hurt, we each carry that hurt with us.  Sometimes that pain can be used for good.  We see how we are hurt and we care for others so that they do not feel that kind of pain.  Peter Quill throughout the films carries the pain of seeing his mom die and fights for others.  Nebula rages with anger at the pain she carries and while she is not the same as she was at the beginning of the first film, she still is consumed by the pain and the anger that comes from it.

Like I said earlier, what I love about this series is that at the heart of the films is hope.  Hope for change.  Even if one carries such deep pain, there is hope for change.  I am very much looking forward to Vol. 3 and seeing how the character of Nebula is carrying her pain.  Because it reminds me of the pain that I carry and how I can’t let it carry me.

Thursday Quote Day: Bart Simpson

For this week’s “Thursday Quote Day” and for Star Wars Day, here is a quote from Bart Simpson:

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, contrary to what you’ve just seen, war is neither glamorous nor fun. There are no winners, only losers. There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: The American Revolution, World War II and the Star Wars trilogy.” (Bart Simpson The Simpsons)