Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review

The Pirates of the Caribbean films have been entertaining audiences around the world since 2003. After the lackluster response to 2011’s On Stranger Tides, many thought that this was the end of the Pirates’ life. After all, no one expected an entire franchise to come out of the classic Disneyland ride. But never count out those no-good pirates. Back in 2014, word got out that there would be a fifth Pirates film coming to theaters in 2017. But is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales a worthy return for the franchise or is it just one more dud in the viable franchise?

Fortunately, Dead Men Tell No Tales brings back the swashbuckling fun of the original trilogy. Mind you it doesn’t live up the level of the first movie, but it’s still a lot of fun.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales continues the story of Captain Jack Sparrow. This time around he’s being pursued by Captain Armando Salazar, a ghost from Captain Jack’s past. In order to escape the clutches of this undead threat, he must team up with some new allies and find the Trident of Poseidon—a powerful artifact that can rid the sea of all curses.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - Johnny Depp

There are several reasons why Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales succeeds where some of the past films didn’t. To begin with, Dead Men Tell No Tales continues the story of the series’ original characters. It may not feature them directly but their presence lingers throughout. This presence brings forth a purpose and sentimentality to some of the new characters. The amazing thing is that all five characters have a satisfying arc in the film. Not one character’s story outweighs the other—they’re all equally important. It’s just a shame that there isn’t more of a back story into Salazar’s hatred of pirates.

However, there are some flaws in Nathanson’s script. There are some filler characters put in the film that serve no purpose to the overall story arc. They’re not even entertaining as characters either. In other words, these characters are simply useless villains that serve as filler for our heroes to encounter on their journey. In addition, there are plenty of cheesy lines in the film. Some are the kind of cheesiness that is charmingly funny. Then again there are some lines that are, well, worthy of a facepalm or two.

In reality, it’s Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg that brings much of the fun and adventure back into the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. There are several breathtaking and imaginative sequences that we’ve never seen before—as far as I can tell. Not to mention they’re a lot of fun to watch as well. Then there are the little things that the pair do to help the film. Notably the film’s good pacing, gorgeous cinematography, and realistic CGI.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - Geoffrey Rush and Javier Bardem

The Pirates of the Caribbean‘s cast is solid as a whole. As always, Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush are a delight to watch. It’s been several years since we’ve seen Captain Jack Sparrow on screen. So one doesn’t realize that they miss the character until they see the character again on screen. That’s because Depp clearly loves playing the character. People won’t doubt about that at all. But what you saw before is what you’ll get again here. Thus if you didn’t like his character before then nothing will change your mind here.

That being said, it is Geoffrey Rush that brings the heart to the film. Unlike Captain Jack, Captain Barbossa has the most interesting development of character throughout the entire series. In Dead Men, Rush brings a bit of a vulnerability to the typically rough-edged pirate captain. It’s a bit refreshing to see the humanistic side to these pirates.

Another key player is Javier Bardem’s villainous Captain Salazar. His portrayal is intimidating and eerie to watch. It’s reminiscent of Barbossa’s character in the original Pirates of the Caribbean. The other young actors in the film also hold their own too. Kaya Scoledario is beautiful, funny, and tough as Carina Smyth. Brenton Thwaites is earnest and naïve as Henry. Unlike the relationship between Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, Carina and Henry’s relationship isn’t as palpable.

Overall, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales brings back the swashbuckling fun to the franchise. It’s a definitely a pleasant surprise after the lackluster On Stranger Tides. It’s a wonderful swashbuckling adventure that delivers everything you loved from the previous Pirates films. That is to say, it’s got jaw-dropping special effects, superb performances, and of course, Johnny Depp.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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