It seems like it was just yesterday that I remember walking out of the theater being absolutely floored as to how great the first Pirates of the Caribbean was. The film was clearly lightning in a bottle. Who’d have thought anyone could take an ordinary theme park attraction and craft an engaging story around it? I sure didn’t.
The movie has very little flaws with a great story, characters, and action set pieces. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl introduced us to Captain Jack Sparrow played by the quirky Johnny Depp along with a charming villain named Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).
The film proved that you can take a core concept of an attraction and turn it into a major motion picture event. The success brought about it’s own universe with two sequels immediately green-lit. Though Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides performed well enough at the box office to warrant another sequel, it was a major disappointment especially when you remove two key characters from the original trilogy; Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Turner (Keira Knightley) Turner.
With Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men tell No Tales blasting into theaters on May 26 on a massive $320 million budget, it remains to be seen how prosperous this film can be. While the marketing has looked great thus far, there are a few ways this franchise can be turned around and it all starts by going back to the basics.
1. A Simpler Story
Take the first film as a prime example. The story focused on Will Turner searching for his lost lineage as a former pirate. It also introduced us to a once supporting character in Captain Jack Sparrow. The film also brought about the #Curseoftheblackpearl and why this pirate ship full of dead pirates are looking to become human again. They steal a girl thinking it’s her blood they need, but realize it is in fact Will Turner’s. Obviously there’s a little more to it than that, but that’s pretty much the gist of it.
The following sequels became far more convoluted. The story became so complex that many fans (me included) bickered over the confusing plot. There was an excursion to Davy Jones Locker, a vindictive goddess who eventually turned into a thousand crabs, a giant Kraken, and even a trip to Singapore. Too many characters and too many plot points were introduced in the following two sequels which made the films far less enjoyable. If Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales can get back to the basics of tight storytelling, then we could have a win on our hands.
2. Placing Johnny Depp Back In A Supporting Role
One of the greatest standouts in the original film was of course Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the zany Captain Jack Sparrow. But why was he beloved so much? Obviously his comedic timing and selfish behavior certainly stood out, but it wasn’t even just about the actor. It was mostly the storytelling.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl focused heavily on Will Turner’s pirate lineage and the importance of him being a blood relative to a hated pirate. While Captain Jack Sparrow was clearly the standout, he wasn’t the main character that the script fixated on. That would go to Will Turner and his heritage.
Unfortunately, the following three sequels concentrated too much story on Jack Sparrow that he slowly became more of a nuisance then a tightly written character. This new film in the franchise could help right the ship and give Sparrow less to do but still be involved with the narrative.
3. Javier Bardem’s Villainous Role
One thing that the Pirates franchise has done extremely well is give its fans memorable villains. From Captain Barbossa to Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) himself, the movies have brought us villains we could get attached to and that’s a great thing. Heck even Ian McShane did a serviceable job as the cunning Black Beard in On Stranger Tides. Javier Bardem’s undead character of Captain Salazar is the newest to add to the list.
The story is pretty intriguing. Salazar was captain of a Spanish Royal Navy crew who were known for hunting down pirates across the seven seas. However one day, he met a younger Jack Sparrow who led him down towards the Devil’s Triangle. It was there that his ship was destroyed and he and his entire crew were cursed having been transfigured into undead ghosts. Salazar seeks his revenge on Sparrow along with other pirates who get in their way and is the major crux in this new film.
4. Undead Pirates And Ghost Sharks
Though it may seem a bit familiar, Jack Sparrow along with a few newer characters will have to deal with a batch of undead pirates once again. This formula may sound repetitive but this may not be a bad thing. Continuing with the winning formula, bringing back something undead told in a new way could prove refreshing for this franchise.
And let me be honest for a second, adding ghost sharks to the mix is a huge bonus to any film, especially for a Pirates movie. They also look really cool in the trailers and will be a difficult adversary for Jack and company to take on.
5. The Visuals And Swashbuckling Action!
One major aspect this franchise never falters on is the visuals. I know the term “visually stunning” is thrown around Hollywood films all too often, but this franchise’s visuals is nothing short of stunning. Whether the stories or characters pan out or not, watching these movies on a large theater screen makes the scenes pop.
From the sea battles to the action on land, these pirate films are never short on action. They’ve done an incredible job choreographing all of these fight scenes and it looks as though Dead Men Tells No Tales will not falter in this department.
So those are my five points on this list. Do you agree? What do you think this franchise needs to do to get back to greatness? I’d love to hear what you all have to say in the comment section below!