Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review


Logan Burnett, A&E Editor

Rating: PG-13

Score: 6.5 out of 10

On May 5, 2017 the newest and (hopefully) final installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales, was released. Now despite my less than enthusiastic opening, I am actually a big fan of this franchise, particularly the first film. Unfortunately, none of the following four films have been able to catch that magic. They have gotten lost in special effects, often-convoluted plots, and decreasing levels of entertainment. No matter how much I tried to (and I really put in effort) I just couldn’t fall in love with this film as I did with the original.

The story opens promisingly with the son of former main character Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), trying to free his father from a curse placed on him in a previous film. Fast forward about a decade and we find Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) once again down on his luck, but soon caught up in the boy, Henry Turner’s (Brendon Thwaits) quest to find the trident of Poseidon and free his father. We also meet a knowledgeable girl Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), who is hunting for the trident as well. Now we have our trio off on another swashbuckling adventure…that already has a lot going on and many different plots. Soon the audience is introduced to Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), a ghostly former Spanish captain with a grudge against Jack Sparrow, who teams up with the familiar pirate Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush), both of whom also desire the trident for their own reasons.

As for the characters, I will start with what I enjoyed and what I found disappointing. Javier Bardem has proven himself in No Country For Old Men and Skyfall that he plays a very intimidating villain and brings intrigue to the film. He did the same here, especially in moments where he was one on one with another character. Unfortunately, sometimes he did feel a little silly, especially when he called out for Jack Sparrow in a cartoonish voice more than once. His back-story was very interesting though. Seeing Barbosa again was exciting but expected. His character actually plays a powerful emotional role in this movie and gives us even more reason to like him as both a dastardly pirate captain and a swashbuckling antihero. The newcomers Henry and Carina, certainly had their moments, but would have done better in their own film, instead of drowning in the return of the other characters. Finally, we get to Jack Sparrow. In the first movie, Johnny Depp brought to life a character that was fresh and energized the story. He was witty yet weird, clever yet consistently drunk. By this film, Depp seems tired. It feels more like a wannabe actor doing a Jack Sparrow impression. His wit was lost, and instead of him having sneakily planned things to work in his favor, he just stumbles upon his treasures and I was very upset by this. That being said, the final scene did send him off with a bit of his former greatness.

There was a lot of this movie that could have been either removed, or replaced. Many scenes didn’t make sense or felt entirely too forced. However, there were a few stand out moments. One of those being when we saw a young Jack encounter Captain Salazar in a flashback, and even through the slightly off CGI of Johnny Depp’s face, we saw some of that cocky danger in young Jack. The movie also picked up towards the finale, covering all its bases and including an emotional and satisfying reunion of old characters at the end.

In conclusion, the plot really just had a bit too much going on. It is clear they wanted to tie up some loose ends, but it felt like Disney was also trying to set up a new adventure with the newcomers. They’re calling this the final installment, but with a leading post credit scene and some interesting new characters, plus some rumors swirling around the internet, I doubt this is the last we’ll see of these high sea adventurers. I hope that that will be with a fresh new story and characters, or at least a Jack Sparrow with some life breathed into him. Until then, we will look to the horizon for new open ocean journeys.