Due to being delayed by unfortunate weather, I am being forced to compound these two reviews into a single post to better serve you. This post will feature the two films in a head-to-head competition that is sure to resemble two walker-bound ninety-year-old men engaged in an MMA fight. Skip to the end if you want to see overall scores.
I was not excited to see either of these films (Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch, for those that are still oblivious or need help figuring out the title). If you read my last post on the original Pirates of the Caribbean, then you’ll know why I had no hopes for this film, and Baywatch marketed itself as a brand of comedy film that I rarely enjoy (if ever). Nevertheless, being bored out of my mind and having nothing better to do, I ventured out into the stormy chaos to see them.
Neither were good. I motion that we just jump into the reviews.
An easy place to start would be comedic factor, as this element plays an important role in both films. The first 3 Pirates films established themselves as some of the more entertaining and humorous adventure films of all time, regardless of the overall quality of each film. This film doesn’t fall short; it amputates itself at the starting blocks before the race even begins. The only person that ever laughed in my theater was a middle-aged woman who managed to convince her friend that the Pirates franchise was at least sixty times better than Game of Thrones (and also that Jon Snow was, in fact, the secret child of Robert Baratheon and Daenerys Targaryen … you probably thought I was just making a joke, but this actually happened). This Pirates movie has no idea why people thought the other films were humorous; but oh, boy does it try to remember. From Jack’s entirely incoherent babble, to the intelligent female lead constantly being called a witch, the humor in this film is as forced as a shovel to the face (oh, and there’s also a lot of bad slapstick, now that I think of it).
Baywatch is not an entirely different story. Most of the jokes consist of attractive people talking about how attractive they are, cringe-humor that is short on humor and heavy on cringe, and scenes in which the writers simply asked themselves “how ridiculous can we truly make this movie?”. However, since it is a pure comedy film, it does try hard to have a little something for everyone, so there were a few times where I caught myself smiling (maybe even laughing, but I refuse to admit to it). Overall, however, this movie could still not stand up to most other comedy giants (even ones I tend not to like).
Comedy Edge: Baywatch, but don’t expect much.
Let’s talk about plot. Say what you will about the first three Pirates films, but this script makes those three look like contenders for the Best Screenplay award at the Oscars. I was fine with skeleton pirates, squiddy pirates, sea goddesses, resurrection, and the edge of the world, but this film takes suspension of disbelief to a whole other level. It’s not that it’s more ridiculous than anything we’ve seen, it’s that it doesn’t care when things don’t make sense. This was evident from the very beginning of the movie, which shows the pirates literally copying the bank heist from The Fast Five with a couple of horses. Then, it takes our favorite characters on a roller coaster ride and subjects them to almost literally backseat driving behind the two new characters. When Jack Sparrow has been reduced to a comedic relief character, that’s when you know you’ve royally screwed up. Furthermore, there are way too many cooks in the kitchen on this one. For the majority of the film, you are asked to keep up with 4 main parties: Jack and friends, Barbossa, Captain Salazar, and the nameless British captain that wants to be obsessed with executing witches but keeps one locked up so that she can provide exposition and ex-machina devices when he needs her to. Next, this movie is supposed to feature the “ultimate treasure,” but it spends almost none of its time on telling us why this treasure is so important or what it can do. Instead, it spends most of its time debating whether or not it’s even real (which is stupid because of course the audience knows it’s real). Finally, character arcs: there aren’t any. There is no reason for half of these characters to be in the film, but they’re there anyway. It also tried to force in some emotional arcs in almost literally the last minute that ultimately fall flat on their faces and just make the movie look even more cheesy.
Okay, I know that was a lot, but it was a condensed version of everything wrong with Pirates. Baywatch will be must easier to do because it’s a film that doesn’t even care about its plot. Nobody came to this movie expecting a good story, but I’m still going to bash it. Throughout the film, there are several characters that desperately try to make the point “we’re life guards, we should let the police handle this,” and, rather than come up with a logical, emotional, or moral counter to this point, the other characters simply look at them like they’re stupid and proceed to make themselves targets for a very dangerous criminal organization. I wouldn’t mention this if it only happened once or twice, but it literally happens at least once in every ten minutes of the film. The plot makes no sense at all, but it tries really hard to.
Story Edge: Pirates, even though it’s still awful.
Now, let’s talk about acting. Surprisingly for Pirates, this one was bad. Johnny Depp has lost touch with Jack almost as badly as the franchise has; though, this may have been due to him literally being drunk the entire time instead pretending to be drunk. Geoffrey Rush suffers from a terrible script that expects a lot out of his character even though he really didn’t have a place in the film. Javier Bardem isn’t bad, but most of his dialogue is reduced to him repeating “Jas-parro” over and over.
In Baywatch, the only people hired for their “acting chops” are Dwayne Johnson and Priyanka Chopra. Chopra has next to nothing to work with and is mostly there to be the seductively evil villain (the film tried way too hard to make her a James Bond villain). Johnson is Johnson; I never expect a lot from him but he is extremely charming and is often fun to watch. The rest of the cast was here to look good and occasionally try to say something funny. Seriously, this movie didn’t even hire average looking people to play background characters. It was like a 2-hour long beach music video.
Acting Edge: Baywatch
When talking about visuals, one would hope that Pirates would win no contest simply due to its much higher budget. Well, you’d be correct, but this film is filled with problems. Editing is the thing that comes to mind first. There are sequences in this movie that are so chopped up that a professional chef with the world’s sharpest knife couldn’t make them any smaller. On the bright side, there are a lot of visual effects that are not half bad. Captain Salazar and his crew looked pretty good for the most part, and there are several practical effects sequences that are pretty fun to watch.
On the other hand, Baywatch doesn’t give a crap about what I think of its visuals. What CGI is in the movie is terrible, and the directing is sub-par at best. The worst example of this is the one real fight scene in the movie. When the apartment fight scene in Ted – which features Mark Wahlberg fighting a CG teddy bear – is better shot than Dwayne Johnson fighting a stunt man, then you have some serious issues. But then again, it’s a movie you don’t go to see for technical mastery.
Visual Edge: Pirates by a longshot
Dead Men Tell No Tales – 4.4/10
Baywatch – 4.3/10
Winner: Pirates, by a score of 0.1
Ultimately, your enjoyment of these two films is going to come down to personal preference. Would you rather see a stupid comedy movie with overly-attractive people in swimsuits, or would you rather see a stupid farewell-to-franchise, money-grabbing adventure movie. In this case, I’d have to stick with the soullessness of Pirates because Baywatch falls into a category of comedy flick that happens to be my least favorite currently popular genre. Still, I highly recommend steering clear of both of these films for the remainder of the week until Wonder Woman comes out. Hopefully (with my finger tightly crossed), this film will manage to help DC find its footing and actually get some halfway decent movies made.