PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES finds rough seas in 5th installment
Full disclosure, I didn’t see Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides (2011) because without Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly, why, amirite?
The theme of Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Men Tell No Tales is recovering what is lost, Young Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) is searching for a way to free his father of the curse from the hold of The Flying Dutchmen, and after years of studying ancient myths of the sea, decided it lies with the Trident of Poseidon. Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), horologist – these are the jokes, folks – is also searching for the Trident of Poseidon, using her father’s diary to read a map no man can read. Every woman needs a skill, after all. Henry believes the famed pirate, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is the only one that can get him close, but Jack has fallen on hard times. With no ship – the Black Pearl is trapped in a bottle – and no solid crew willing to work for free, his luck as a pirate has taken a considerable left turn. He’s broke, constantly drunk, and carries the reputation of a failure.
Chasing them across the sea is the undead Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem ) who seeks the Trident for himself to rid the seas of pirates forever. His motivation is wounded pride, as condition is the result of a run-in with a very young, very resourceful Jack. Let’s face it – there likely aren’t too many pirates out there who haven’t suffered at the hands of Jack either on purpose or due to dumb luck. It keeps the franchise going.
Of course, Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) is back. Having created a pirate empire of his own, he rushes to join forces with Captain Salazar to stop the destruction of his ships, and also to defeat Jack once and for all.
The British Royal Navy is along to capture everyone, but spends a lot of time getting killed.
The first third drags as you’re caught up to the lives of everyone. We have a young couple, so there will be obvious parallels to Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner, and the movie doesn’t do much to dissuade that. The dialogue is a little stilted, feeling more like (not very) quotable one-liners than conversations. Carina’s jabs don’t have the sting of Elizabeth’s, so it feels like petulance, rather than bravery. The movie also doesn’t need the forced romantic connection of Carina and Henry for them to have sufficient motivations to save each other, but this is Disney after all. Fairy-tale romances are their bread and butter.
Because this is Disney, the special effects are incredible. You will marvel at the flammability of ships at sea and the ease in making them explode in fireballs of death. Captain Salazar’s undead crew is at once creepy and fascinating. You will also be touched at the humanity of all of the characters, and even while ships are exploding all around and the sea parts to reveal her hidden treasures, you’re reminded of the people inside those ruthless skins. You feel for them, even if you know you’re being manipulated just a little bit. We like cheering for Jack, but at the same time, we’re all very much aware that in his own dark heart, there are very legitimate reasons for his anti-hero status.
This is a 2-hour popcorn movie meant to be seen on the big screen with surround sound and eyeball filling excitement, so treat yourself to an afternoon matinee with the kids, or a kid at heart. It’s not a perfect film by any stretch, but it’s well worth a popcorn and a soda and time to get reacquainted.
Yes there is a post-credits scene so stick around through all of them for a brief look as to what comes next.
Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man Tell No Tales is rated PG-13 for high fantasy violence, people being run through with swords and tossed off ships, and a murderous giant masthead.