Part one (introduction): What is a main character?
I'll start by talking about what a main character really is, and what the point of a main character. Think about the first Pirates movie. We have Will Turner, the apprentice of a blacksmith, who is thrown into a situation that he was not prepared for, and now must rescue the girl that he will fall in love with. It's a really basic plot that is used in many, many films (Star Wars being the most obvious to me), but works very well. There are a few key reasons that this works. First, we relate to this character, because he's from the outside looking in, just like we are. This not only helps the audience relate to the character and therefore care about what happens to him, but it helps the film explain the situation (in this case the life of a pirate) to the audience, by experienced supporting characters explaining it to the main character. This also gives motivation to the film, and an actual reason for things to happen, which I'll get to later.
Anyway, on to the new film and why it has no real main character. You will undoubtedly be thinking that Jack Sparrow is the main character. While it is true that the film does focus on Jack Sparrow, I would not consider him the main character because he doesn't really do anything of importance, and he has no real motivation. When we meet Jack in the beginning, he has a map to the fountain of youth, but really expresses no interest in going there. The only reason anything happens with him is because other people were insisting that he was putting together a crew, which he vehemently denied. If not for that, he could have just been sitting on ass in England for the rest of his life for all we know.
Jack's character has no motivation for anything that he does. He doesn't care about the fountain of youth, I don't buy his love for the Penelope Cruz's character for a second, and everything else he does out of fear of being killed. He only really made two decisions in the film. One was to try to take over the Queen Anne's Revenge (which ended up not mattering in the slightest), and the other was to give the life saving cup to Penelope Cruz's character. That didn't matter to me, because the film gave me absolutely no reason whatsoever to care about what happens to her.
Part two: Too much emphasis on characters that don't matter
Out of lack of any kind of story to tell, they had to fill time with the exploits of characters that have nothing to do with the plot. The most notable example is the priest, but I'll get to him later.
First I want to talk about Blackbeard. What an abysmal character he was. I really wouldn't call him an antagonist, because he really didn't strike me as a threat to the protagonist at all. He could also be the asshole who exists solely as an asshole so he can get his come-uppance in the end, but even that character has to have some kind of motivation. I was trying to figure out Blackbeard's motivations for each decision that he made, but the only result that I could come to is that his decisions are dependent on what the plot needs to do. Lets take a look at his major decisions:
1) He didn't execute Jack => Jack started a fucking mutiny, and Blackbeard was supposed to be the pirate that pirates fear. But the plot needed Jack to survive, so Jack survived. And he didn't really need Jack for the fountain of youth, because he had Penelope Cruz's character.
2) Keeping the priest alive => His reason for this was so he would get into heaven. Well fuck that. Not only would he not get into heaven even if they had the fucking pope on board with a supersoaker full of holy water, but he was planning on drinking from the fountain of youth and living forever anyway. There were many times when he should have executed the priest, but they just needed to push his stupid, pointless, why should I give a shit love story with the mermaid, so the priest survived.
3) Everything having to do with Penelope Cruz's character => What a joke this relationship was. By the end of the film, we still don't know if Blackbeard was really her father. What we do know is that neither of them cared. I guess they were just using each other to find the fountain. Either way, Penelope Cruz's character didn't need Blackbeard to find the fountain. Blackbeard was just kind of thrown in there because they wanted to drop his name. Also, why was his beard on fire in the first scene? They never explained that.
The love story between the mermaid and the priest. I don't feel like talking about this, it was just a pointless filler between two characters that we don't care about and will never hear from again. That's it.
Part three: Nothing fucking happens. At all. No really, this movie is completely pointless.
So lets do a rundown of the plot. Jack is in England, not planning anything, then that royal guy asks him to do something but he escapes so he can continue to not plan anything. Then he gets kidnapped and forced to work on a ship. They end up racing to the fountain of youth against Geoffrey Rush's character and a bunch of Spaniards, I guess because the fountain of youth is cool and living forever is pretty wizard, even though Johnny Depp doesn't seem to give the slightest shit about it. They find the fountain at the end, and Blackbeard and Geoffery Rush fight over it. Then the Spaniards get there and
So now the entire adventure is rendered pointless, and Jack can go back to England to not plan anything again. I guess he gets the Black Pearl in a bottle, but he didn't really express any desire for it in the beginning of the film, so no one can really claim that that was what the story was based on.
Part four (conclusion): Tedium for the sake of tedium.
This film was obviously a classic example of a franchise that is way past its prime trying to milk as many pennies from the market as possible. The symptoms are clear: Inability to formulate a plot, complete lack of characters, and tedium for tedium's sake. Because this plot was thrown together in such a haphazard way, they basically had to throw in random roadblocks in order to make the movie longer. A journey from point A to point B with a bunch of obstacles does not make a good film, it's just tedious.
Think about the first Pirates film again. When Orlando Bloom's character got into a fight, it was always for a reason. Motivations were all over the place. Orlando Bloom wanted to get the girl and Geoffery Rush wanted his and his crews' souls back (epic, no?). Johnny Depp was, like in the new movie, pretty much just along for the ride. He served as a mentor and guide to Orlando Bloom, and pretty much did things in his own interest. This character worked perfectly in the first movie, but does not work well as a main antagonist.