Dead Men Tell No Tales is pointlessly busy and exhausting
There are plenty of good things in Dead Men Tell No Tales. Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (who were behind the very good Norwegian film Kon-Tiki), along with cinematographer Paul Cameron, come up with some pretty shots of gorgeous locations scattered around the world. At least one early action sequence made me giggle with delight at its Rube Goldberg logic. And Javier Bardem, who plays new villain and ghost pirate Salazar, apparently ate several whole hams before shooting.
But those good things are mostly stranded in a desert of meaningless subplots and B-stories. For whatever reason, the response to the lightning-bolt success of the first Pirates movieback in 2003 (a legitimately fun film that felt like nothing else at the time) was to pile on a bunch of characters and a bunch of backstory. And over the three films between that one and this one, those characters and backstory kept piling up — to the point where this film keeps cutting away to Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa (the first film’s villain, the second film’s plot twist, the third film’s unwilling ally, etc., etc.) seemingly because Rush heard a Pirates movie was filming, showed up on set, and couldn’t be turned away.