“Oh good, everything is better now that Orlando Bloom is here!” is not a statement that has been uttered by anyone since the teenage girls of 2005 grew up. But doggonit, I’m saying it now. It has just been announced that Bloom will be returning for the fifth installment to the improbably long-running Pirates of the Caribbean series. And frankly, he might be the one dude who could save this listing behemoth.
The Pirates of the Caribbean series is a Hollywood tragedy. The first movie was an amazing surprise, coming out of seemingly nowhere to deliver a rollicking adventure, a cast of unforgettable characters, and a damn good story. When Captain Jack Sparrow first stumbled onto our screens, we didn’t know what hit us. Pirate-Keith-Richards meets Pepé Le Pew was the character we never knew we needed and one of the greatest of the 21st century.
But then as the money signs spun cartoonishly in everyone’s eyes and the franchise jumped the shark (or, rather, the tentacle-faced octopus man). It lost everything that had once made it magical, as each bloated entry became increasingly convoluted and downright nonsensical. To those of us who were teen girls in 2005 and may or may not have owned Captain Jack Sparrow socks (they were a joke gift from a friend!), it hurt to see a fantastic character get ruined by overexposure as he lingered long past his welcome, like the fun uncle who sits with you at the kids table and it’s only years later that you realize it has gotten weird.
Captain Jack Sparrow is the kind of character you want to see more of when he’s on the sidelines, but once he steps into the spotlight, you realize that the light ruins him. Like all wacky sidekicks, although you prefer him to the Bland Leading Man when they’re onscreen together, take the Bland Leading Man out of the equation and the sidekick becomes tarnished, his very wackiness rendered bland by overexposure. So the triumphant return of Bloom’s Will Turner, our erstwhile Bland Leading man, might be a good thing. Because their initial dynamic was golden.
And because Orlando Bloom is surprisingly fun when he’s not the Bland Leading Man.
Make no mistake: he will be bland in comparison to Jack Sparrow, but because Keira Knightley isn’t returning, he might have more to do than pine for her blandly.
In all likelihood, this movie will still continue the tragedy of drowning a once-great story, but it can’t be any worse than some of the previous entries. Maybe Orlando Bloom’s career is simply jumping the tentacle-faced octopus man, just like Johnny Depp’s has, but we’ll shoot for optimism this franchise has in no way earned: Oh good, everything is better now that Orlando Bloom is here!