Well what the hell was that?
Here is where I would usually put a summary of the plot, but to be honest I don't really know what it is. Cap'n Jack's back doing what he does best: screaming, jumping around rooms, doing that weird jerky thing and embarking on a quest for something mystical. All standard. What I don't understand is anything else. I thought it couldn't get any worse than the third one, but at least that had a purpose, even if it was a jumbled pile of meaningless plot. This one seems to exist just for the fact that they wanted a sequel, and it appears that they threw together a script in about 28 minutes.
There's firstly the setting. As you probably deduced from the title, they don't go anywhere in the Caribbean, defeating the whole title of the franchise; basically, they go on a jaunt of western Europe. Actually, not even that, just Spain and London. Which was my first niggle. There was never any explanation as to the fact they were casually in England in the first place.
Then there's said quest. I didn't understand it. Other than the feared Blackbeard, nobody seemed to have any motive to find the Fountain of Youth other than "well he's looking for it, so I might as well too". Not a reason. The film seemed to take an overly long time to establish the plotline, and Blackbeard, who's supposedly the main antagonist in the film, doesn't appear until a good 45 minutes in. Even then his appearance leaves you with more questions than it answers.
If you aren't familiar with the stories of Blackbeard or the Fountain of Youth, basically it will be very hard to understand. I didn't even get why he could magically control his ship standing still, just with a few hand gestures (it actually made us think "why does he even have a crew if he can man the ship himself without any effort?). And the whole search for the Fountain of Youth doesn't even make sense: Blackbeard wants to find it so that he won't die in the next two weeks, as has been prophecised, but the Fountain doesn't give immortality, so it seems kind of redundant. Basically, the whole quest seems to be there just to give the characters something to do instead of getting drunk and sleeping with prostitutes, which actually would have made for a more entertaining film.
I don't like any of the new characters, really. Penelope Cruz was useless and there was absolutely no chemistry between her and Depp. The only thing that was amusing was the Spanish music that played every time she was on screen, in case we hadn't deduced her nationality from her accent. Then there's Sam Claflin and Astrid Berges-Frisbey (stupid name), slated as the new Orlando and Keira, who were so unbelievably one-dimentional all I could do was laugh at the absurdity of their supposed romance. He was pathetic and needed to man up, and he was also ridiculously flaily for no apparent reason, whereas she was a mermaid-when-in-water-but-a-woman-on-land who just seemed to have one facial expression (mildly worried) and had a total of about 3 lines in the whole film. We were only entertained by them because of their ridiculousness, and they were actually one of the most entertaining aspects of the film... if you laugh at and ridicule them the whole way though.
There are also so many plot holes. The actual Fountain is never really explained, and when the unnecessary Spanish (who we are lead to believe for most of the film are more redundant enemies) come to destroy it, they don't do a very good job. There is one mention of zombies in the entire film (apologies to those who got excited about that from the trailer) and then they are never addressed again, and no explanation is given over that either. Basically, like I said, many questions are raised and almost none of them are answered, which is one of the reasons you will come out feeling immensly dissatisfied.
One thing I have to give credit for is the action sequences. Well, most of them. The first sword-fighting scene between Jack and Cruz's character Anjelica went on for far too long, and was slightly reminiscent of his first one with Orlando, which, instead of being pleasantly nostaligic, seemed like they couldn't be bothered to come up with new choreography. Other than that, though, they were quite entertaining. My favourite would have to be the one where the mermaids basically completely overpower a shipfull of men, though I didn't understand why they resembled vampires. But anyway. The others were pretty much standard: all stylised, all predictable, but fun to watch.
Basically, to sum up, this film had no purpose. It didn't even feel like a Pirates film, as only three of the original characters are actually in it; even with the iconic music playing and Depp's crazy Jack Sparrow, this film just didn't feel the same. Yes, it was shorter than the third one (though it doesn't feel like it), but there was just no point to it. I think the best bit of the whole film was when Barbossa declares right at the end that they are going to Tortuga, the legendary pirate port that brought so much fun to the first films - we cheered at this. And then we don't see it.
My friend and I were talking the other day about how hard it must be to promote a film when you know how bad it is, and I felt particularly sorry for Geoffrey Rush. Considering the last film he appeared in won 4 Oscars and he was nominated for one (The King's Speech, in case you've been living under a rock), I don't know how he can put his name on this film and not feel ashamed. Even Johnny, who by now must be getting tired of the same act (I know I am - Jack Sparrow just doesn't have the same fun quality it once did and is getting a little old), is surely bored of the whole thing and should really stop before this is what he becomes most remembered for instead of the great actor he actually is but cannot show in these films. It has gotten to the stage where Depp has to carry the films by himself, and now he struggles. Even his disintegrating charm and wit cannot make it acceptable.
Verdict: I wouldn't waste money going to the cinema to see it. Wait until it's on television, and even then make sure you watch with a couple of friends, like I did, so that you can laugh and mock it instead of turning off. I hope to God this is where it ends, though based on the fact it's still quite a money-spinner, I'm guessing it's not. This franchise is one which has well and truly crashed and burned.
** (and that's because I was feeling generous)
Kathryn (who came with me to see this muck) and I were discussing how there should be an Oscar for best trailer, and we think that this should definitely be up for it. But don't be deceived by the brilliance of it - it showcases the highlights of the film well, but then the promise of a good film is by no means delivered.