Today’s post is a guest post by A.M. Freeman, author of the controversial short story “At the Edge of Detachment” from the anthology “Forbidden Thoughts”, co-host of the Whippersnappers Podcast, and a regular contributor at superversivesf.com. You can also follow her personal blog at lostinlalalandblog.wordpress.com
Let me start out by saying that I have never seen any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I’ve seen pieces of one, which had a crazy chase scene, a beach, and a jar of dirt. I laughed a lot at that.
So, since I cannot compare it to the previous ones, I’m going to look at it as a stand alone. And I think it worked quite well as one! I enjoyed it, and I didn’t need the other movies to understand what was going on. It had high sea adventures, it had characters, it had action, it had romance, it had witty dialogue, and it had utterly ridiculous things that were just so overblown they were hilarious! As a casual movie watcher, I really enjoyed it. But be warned, there will be spoilers from now on!
The movie starts out with a boy, just trying to get his dad back. But his dad is cursed, and there’s nothing he can do about it, aside from finding an ancient and mythical item that can control the sea. But… it’s not like anyone is actually going to FIND that… oh wait.
Anyway, I’ll talk about the characters first. The three main ones were, Carina Smyth, Henry Turner, and of course the legendary Captain Jack Sparrow. Our main villain was Armando Salazar.
Henry is the boy who was hunting down his father, Will Turner, at the beginning of the movie. We see him again 9 years later when he is a lowly shiphand on a British imperial boat. He knows everything about the myths and legends of the sea, for that is the only key he has to freeing his father from his curse. And really, that’s about it. He didn’t really get much character development from what I saw. But the moment he meets his father again, uncursed, is very touching.
Carina isn’t a bad character, but I didn’t find her very likable. She almost falls into the Strong Female Character(TM) type, in that she never seems to stop scowling, doesn’t want any help, is very indignant and bitter, and also seemingly better than everything and everyone, which are all the traits I see in the annoying, Mary Sue characters.
But the difference is that there are explanations as to why her character is like this, and she has weaknesses as well as strengths. Carina was an orphan, and the only connection she had to her father, was by a journal he left to her. The journal was really a secret map to discovering the Trident of Poseidon (which is what the movie is all about). And so she spends her life studying Astronomy and Horology – there are a lot of jokes made about that second one – to try and decode the journal, in the hopes it will lead her back to her father. How exactly she managed (as an orphan) to learn all these things is never told. It’s one of the things you kinda have to look the other way on. There’s a few things like that in this movie, but not enough for me to be totally pulled out of the story.
However, what strained my suspension of disbelief the most was Carina always being called a witch. There was no good reason for it. Despite the fact that things like astronomy are practiced and probably common knowledge, just because a girl says it, everyone just yells “witch!”. I think the only point of this was to make everyone look stupid and uncivilized compared to her. Like the time she was on the run, and hid in a shop. There was a telescope, which she looked in and then, with no regard to the guy who owned it, made adjustments to it. And then was a pompous know-it-all to the guy when he walked in on her messing with his stuff. But that’s okay because he calls her a witch, right?
They could have given her plenty of struggles, like being an orphan and managing to get an education, and yes, being frowned upon because she was a woman in astronomy, which is uncommon. But having everyone call her “witch” all the time was just jarring.
But that was not enough to ruin the character for me. She was somewhat unlikeable, but she at least also had a purpose and character development. Being a very logical and scientific girl, she doesn’t believe in ghosts and legends. But when they face a ship of the undead and pick up the trident, she changes her tone. Overall, she wasn’t a bad character, and fit well in the story.
Now, the great Captain Jack Sparrow! Or… not so great, as he starts out in this movie. Honestly, he’s washed up. He makes a spectacular attempt to rob a bank, (and drag the bank itself all through town) that ends up fruitless. He has no ship, the last of his crew abandon him, and all of his luck and charm and swagger have left him as well. He has nothing left, besides his compass. Which he then trades for a bottle of rum, and so loses even that – which also starts a big plot ball rolling.
Throughout the movie, he regains himself and all that he had lost. We even get to see a very cool flash back to when he became a captain. He is very young and bold, and you understand why he became notorious and feared. It wouldn’t be a Pirates of the Caribbean movie without Captain Jack Sparrow, and I can see why! He’s quite a character!
Armando Salazar is a good villain, scary, dramatic, ruthless, motivated. There was a brief moment when the curse is broken, that I thought he was going to be redeemed, but it was not so; he hated Jack too much. I was sad that his crew had to go down with him.
Captain Barbossa is another important character. This one is a REALLY BIG SPOILER, so turn away if you’re really interested in seeing the film.
Turns out he is Carina’s father! It’s kinda sweet. He doesn’t reveal this to her until the very end, when he sacrifices himself to save her. It is very sad, but it fits. For what father wouldn’t give up his life for their child?
The plot was good, had lots of twists and excitement, and a good ending. My friend I was watching it with, who has seen the previous movies and is invested in all the characters, was about having a heart attack the moment when Will and Elizabeth are reunited. And even for me, it was very beautiful and moving!
“Dead Men Tell No Tales” was fun, entertaining, hilarious, and touching. It had crazy and dramatic fight scenes, things like zombie sharks, dragging a building through a city with a horse drawn cart, weddings, and all kinds of nutty stuff! I’ve heard people roll their eyes and say “another one??”, but I really don’t see a problem with it. It’s just a good old high seas adventure, and I think anyone, especially fans of the movies, will enjoy it very much.