Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Night Before

Excitement. Nerves.

UPDATE (May 25, 2017)

As I type these words, it’s 2:06 AM on Thursday, May 25, 2016. There's fog pressing against the window, which is both pretentiously atmospheric and somewhat fitting, given the series of films the subject of this post belongs to.

Twelve hours from now, I’ll be sitting in a cinema watching Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales — otherwise known as the film I point-blank refuse to refer to as Salazar’s Revenge. I’m excited (more excited than I should be, probably…) but I’m nervous, too. In fact, I’ve been growing steadily more nervous as the screening approaches.

I have a very vivid memory of the first time I encountered Pirates of the Caribbean: sitting in a darkened cinema before The Curse of the Black Pearl, having been brought along against my will, utterly unenthused about the film I was about to see. As you might’ve guessed, I felt differently by the time the credits rolled.

I loved Curse of the Black Pearl, and I belong to the — to me — surprisingly small group that loved its sequels… well, the first two. True, no subsequent film has quite managed to recapture the sheer swashbuckling fun of the first, but Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End are solid films in their own right — not to mention those soundtracks! — coming from a time in which everyone’s favourite Captain was still worthy of being called, as a certain heathen god put it, ‘Witty Jack’, rather than the caricature he became in On Stranger Tides.

I have more time than most for Jack’s trip to the Fountain of Youth (the scene in which he trips in some foliage, only to then exact revenge on said foliage with his sword is amongst my favourites of the series), but the drop in quality, and performance, is painfully apparent; ‘Witty Jack’ becomes… well, a bit of a buffoon.

It’s this, more than anything, that’s behind my growing nervousness about Dead Men Tell No Tales. Unfortunately, after that pleasantly excellent teaser last October —

— things have gone steadily downhill, with subsequent trailers and clips revealing Depp’s performance to seem even more exaggerated and cartoonish than even his last. While the performances of those around him could well be fine — which, with a notable exception or two, was the case with On Stranger Tides — Jack Sparrow has become the core of Pirates films: if he’s off, the film’s off.

And then there’s the soundtrack. I always look forward to hearing new soundtracks, and, since reading this post about that of Dead Men Tell No Tales, and how it draws heavily from Hans Zimmer's terrific score for At World’s End, I’ve been unreservedly excited for this one. Said excitement, however, suffered a not-inconsiderable blow just a few hours ago, when composer Geoff Zanelli Tweeted out a link to an article containing the first real preview of his score.

El Matador Del Mar, aside from having a very cool title, is blindingly, distractingly, a near note-for-note rehash of Blackbeard’s ominous theme from On Stranger Tides. It may seem an odd point to make, that — hypocritical, even — praising the soundtrack for being faithful to what came before, but, in the next breath, criticising it for the very same. Thing is, the other themes the score will apparently reference are just that: themes — representing Jack, piracy and, through their son, Will and Elizabeth. It makes sense that they’re there. They belong. Rehashing Blackbeard’s theme, however, seems an odd choice given that each of the preceding films has had a distinct, recognisable theme for its antagonist(s).

Combine this with an apparent majority of less-than-stellar reviews and you send my already growing nervousness through the proverbial roof.

Still, I hope those fears prove unfounded, prove to be nothing more than the passing worries of a fan simply wanting the latest instalment in one of his favourite series to be good. I have my fingers firmly crossed that it will be.

It’s now a little less than twelve hours until I see the film, so I’m going to head off and try to get some sleep. Until this evening…


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