Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales!

Captain Jack Sparrow is back for another adventure on the high seas! But does Dead Men Tell No Tales walk the plank? Find out right now!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Kaya Scodelario, Brenton Thwaites

Directed By: Joachim Ronning and Espin Sandberg

Would anyone believe that we’d get to a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie back in 2003? Probably not, but here we are. The fifth go around with Captain Jack Sparrow is here, nearly six years after the last voyage in On Stranger Tides. A lot has changed since the last installment of the hit Disney franchise, and while there are still some fun moments to be had in Dead Men Tell No Tales, there are some major signs of franchise fatigue setting in.

The main plot of Dead Men finds Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of William Turner and Elizabeth Swan of the original trilogy, desperately searching for a way to release his father from the Flying Dutchman’s curse.  To do so, he needs to find the Trident of Poseidon, and the only way to do that is with the help of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Of course, Jack is in a bit of trouble since he traded off his trusty compass for a bottle of rum, which has allowed Captain Salavar (Javier Bardem) to be released from the Devil’s Triangle to exact his revenge on “The Sparrow”. We also meet Carina Smith (Kaya Scodelario), a young girl interested in science who gets caught up in the adventure as well, and of course there’s room for Captain Barbossa ( an always welcome Geoffrey Rush).

Just like in On Stranger Tides, we’re introduced to two new characters that are supposed to replace Will and Elizabeth from the original movies. Unlike Tides, however, one of these characters is actually really fun and interesting. No, it’s not Thwaites’ Henry. It’s Scodelario’s Carina. In a movie that’s filled with characters we’ve seen in four previous movies and made connections with, Carina makes quite the impression; so much so that I dare say she’s one of my favorite characters in the entire series. She not only represents a strong female, but also a character that strongly believes in science at a time in history when much of people’s beliefs were based around legends and folklore.

When it comes to our new villain, Javier Bardem’s Salazar definitely has a unique look. Coughing up black bile and hair floating as if he’s still drowning, Bardem definitely falls into one of the more nightmare-inducing elements of the series, and he’s clearly having a lot of fun playing this character. But the script can only do so much, and as impressive as the CGI on Bardem is, it falls completely flat when you look at his crew. The bar is set pretty high for the Pirates movies ever since Davy Jones and his Crew arrived in Dead Man’s Chest, and a little embarrassing that a movie that came out 11 years ago could completely overshadow the effects in this one. Where Jones’ crew had awesome looking half man/half sea creature members, Salazar’s crew consists of crew members that are missing limbs. They look like an editor just completely erased portions of the characters with the intention of doing something cool with them, but forgot to finish the job. Hell, one of them is just an arm!

Also disappointing is Brenton Thwaites’ Henry, who serves as one of the blandest leads in a movie in quite some time. While we’re supposed to want him to save his father, we don’t really get much time to see him interact with William (yes, Orlando Bloom is back, because what else is he doing?). Aside from his noble crusade to save a father he barely knows, we don’t really have much else to go on in the character department. It’s almost like the screenwriters and directors decided to just have him be connected to the original trilogy and that would be enough of a reason to get us to care about him.

“But what about Johnny Depp?” you’re saying. I know, I know. Ol’ Johnny’s been making the news rounds lately, and not in the way that Disney would like. But aside from his personal problems, it is fun to see him as Jack Sparrow, and  while’s he’s definitely doing this for the hefty paycheck, he doesn’t completely phone in his performance. There’s still a lot of funny one liners from Captain Jack, but he does lose the charm since he’s thrust into the spotlight again. That being said, at least he’s got good chemistry with Carina.

In the end, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a decent addition to the franchise. It’s not wholly necessary, but if it’s going to be the series finale that it feels like, it could’ve gone out on worse terms. As a fan of this franchise (warts and all), it was nice to spend time with these characters again, and while I’d check in with Captain Jack and crew for a sixth voyage, I also won’t be upset if this is the last time I see him.

Verdict: C+

Jonwahizzle is a comic book slinger for Jetpack Comics Find him on PSN (Jonwahizzle), follow him on twitter and check out his blog, The Collective: Examples of Nerdery for more!

4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales!

  1. Completely agree with this. I felt like they wrote themselves into a corner with the franchise and this helped to get them out of the corner. I say complete another trilogy and have the sixth one be the last. Bring back Verbinski and make it a truly happy ending.

  2. The best part was the cap jack flashback
    Any javier scene was great and liked cap jack being a washup loser
    and thats about all i enjoyed, i probably wouldve liked carina if the plot wasnt dumb, or if she couldve fought some.

  3. *spoilers*

    I enjoyed the hell out of the movie, but it definitely has some pacing problems and questionable plot points:

    If Salazar gave Jack the moniker Jack Sparrow, but the name was created right before Salazar was trapped in the Devil’s Triangle for innumerable years and nobody left the ship before they were trapped, how did the name Jack Sparrow spread across the Caribbean?

    The British ship chasing Jack’s crew was completely unnecessary. They had a stupid reason for wanting to do so (now the BRITISH will control the seas!), and made an exciting chase scene feel really bloated. Having said that, Salazar’s ship eating the British ship was awesome.

    Henry Turner was a boring character who had the exact same motivations as Carina, who was a much better character. I forgot why he was even there for large parts of the movie, thinking I confused his story with Carina’s.

    Fast 5 did a better job with a vault robbery scene.

    When did Barbarossa father Carina? When he was cursed or dead? If afterwards, how old is she supposed to be? A lot about this shocking revelation made no sense and its total crap that this was ultimately the reason to kill off his character.

    The shotgun wedding scene was rather uncomfortable.

    So breaking the Trident breaks every curse ever made? Could those curses just be, like, remade right after the Trident broke? Will the sequel unleash eldritch horrors freed from their curses and allowed to dominate the seas once more? If so, will we learn that Jack owes them money for some reason?

    Javier Bardem is the real treasure now buried the sea. His floating drowned hair was such a cool detail.

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