There is something comforting about consistency. Getting the same, delicious meal when you go to your favorite restaurant, and having it be satisfying every single time. But then they switch cooks or change an ingredient, and the whole meal just feels a bit off. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, is the fifth in the series of films based on Disney’s classic ride, and if the series hadn’t already, it has now jumped the shark. Literally. There are actual jumping zombie sharks in this film, but at least they’re beautifully rendered jumping zombie sharks.
Dead Men Tell No Tales is a very pretty movie, the special effects team did a fantastic job, and that’s something that has been consistent across the franchise. Sadly, the incredible CGI was not enough to hold this rotting ship together. Johnny Depp reprises his role as Captain Jack Sparrow, but he seems to be playing a caricature of the Jack Sparrow from earlier films. Where before Jack seemed to be a cunning strategist, and a sharp wit, even when inebriated, he now seems a bumbling sort who has no reason to be as lucky as he is, falling through life. He has lost the enigmatic charisma that he had from the first movie. Perhaps that’s because it has been stolen by Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Captain Salazar, and while not a pirate, Salazar steals this movie.
Returning alongside Depp are Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbosa and Kevin McNally as Mr. Gibbs, with brief appearances by Orlando Bloom as Will Turner, and Kiera Knightley as Elizabeth Swann. New to the crew are Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner and Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth.
The opening scenes find Henry Turner trying to make contact with his father Will still aboard the Flying Dutchman. Henry tells his father that he’s found a way to break his curse so that he can come home. Henry is determined to find Jack Sparrow in order to use his compass to find the Trident of Poseidon, which has the power to break any of the ocean’s curses. Cut to nine years later and Henry has found a washed up Jack Sparrow, but also scientific mind Carina Smyth, both of whom are about to be executed, Sparrow for piracy and Smyth for witchcraft. Amidst a wooden and forced romance, and wooden and forced acting, a search for the Trident ensues.
Captain Salazar tells the tale of Captain Jack‘s rise from common pirate crewman to infamous pirate captain. Barbosa has a back story here as well. There are many good bits of the story involved, but they get washed out by the unneeded romantic thread, as well as some distractingly strange performances by Depp and Thwaites.
There’s a bit of suspension of disbelief that needs to be present when watching these types of movies, but there was more here than I could bear to stay engaged. There were also story elements that could have been trimmed for it to be more cohesive and focused. There are lots of fun moments, though, and, as mentioned before, lots of pretty special effects. Fans of the series will find enough of their favorite familiar touches, and there is a multitude of fun lines and moments.
At the end of the day, this is mindless fun, not great cinema. I hope that I don’t get my pirate card revoked for not being a gung-ho supporter of the movie, but I just couldn’t love it.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales :
About Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Synopsis: Captain Jack Sparrow finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea…including him. Captain Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that bestows upon its possessor total control over the seas.
Directors: Joachim Running and Espen Sandberg
Writers: Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio
Stars: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Barden, Kaya Scodelario, Brenton Thwaites
Runtime: 2 Hours, 9 Minutes