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05-26-2017

Pirate of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell no Tales

It’s been nearly 14 years since audiences were first treated to Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. At the time, Roger Ebert said that Depp’s “performance is original in its every atom. There has never been a pirate, or for that matter a human being, like this in any other movie.” Four films later, and this much is still true. Depp’s performance as Sparrow is unique in the catalog of all things movie and he still brings some of what made this character so unique and essential to the franchise to the table, err, deck.

Fourteen years is plenty of time for an entirely new audience to have been born, and to those uninitiated to the Pirates franchise, they may find Depp’s performance, the corresponding over-the-top action sequences, and now iconic scoring to be nearly as enjoyable as audiences did in 2003. At the same time, 14 years is plenty of time for actors to age in the human scale; Depp was 39 then, approaching 54 now, and let me tell you, as a 36-year-old, I imagine this means noticeable differences, especially when one is attempting to portray the same character. Similarly, the masterful Geoffrey Rush is now nearly 66, then a sprightly 51. Both men still bring their characters to life, and at times, it feels as they’re mustering the same bravado they did circa 2003, yet at others, it feels flatter, more fatigued.

Maybe it is the ravages of time, or franchise fatigue, as many will likely be hard pressed to bring just as much to film five as they did the first. For fans of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, or even the original trilogy (all wrapped and released by 2007), you may find something lacking. The ship still floats, riding high on pretty visuals and robust quips and wit, but she’s not quite as pretty, nor as sharp, as the day her captain smashed a bottle of rum on her bow to set her adrift.

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