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

Theatrical Release Poster – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The following is a review of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (also known as, Salazar’s Revenge) – Directed by Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the fifth film in the series, and, sadly, not all of them have been great. I’d even go as far as to say that there really are only two legitimately good Pirates of the Caribbean film — the first two films. The franchise has struggled to reach the heights of the first two films, and Dead Men Tell No Tales doesn’t change the pattern. The latest entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean-franchise is pretty bad.

Once upon a time, I would be genuinely excited about the adventures that Jack Sparrow would be involved with, but I haven’t rewatched the sequels as much as I’d like, and I, at the time of writing, cannot tell the second and third films apart. The point that I am trying to make is that these films don’t mean all that much to me anymore, even though I once enjoyed them. I think I’ve definitely grown tired of the franchise.

What made me somewhat excited about Dead Men Tell No Tales, when I finally had the chance to see it a couple of days ago, was the fact that both Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom were back, as I remember missing both of their characters in On Stranger Tides. But I have to say that if that is the reason why you’d want to watch this movie, then you should turn away right now. Knightley’s appearance as Elizabeth Swann is nothing more than a tiny cameo, and, although Bloom’s character is somewhat important, Will Turner isn’t on-screen for that long. However, Elizabeth and Will’s son is actually one of the main characters.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales follows Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner’s son Henry Turner (played by Brenton Thwaites), who believes he can break his father’s curse if he can get a certain drunken Captain to help him find the Trident of Poseidon. Henry, employed as a sailor for the British Royal Navy, soon finds out that his search for Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp) is a life-saver, as he encounters Captain Salazar, a vengeful ghost pirate, who is also desperate to find what some consider to be the worst pirate captain in existence.

There was a time when everyone loved Johnny Depp, which was probably, come to think of it, when we all loved Jack Sparrow. But I think that time has come and gone. A lot of that can be contributed to the idea that people are unable to look at Depp the same way following the domestic violence allegations that were made against him. But, on the big screen, he is also starting to lose steam. It slowly started happening in the mid-2000s with his performance as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was met with a lot of criticism. Since then his performances in the Alice in Wonderland-films, The Lone Ranger and Mortdecai haven’t helped him either. When he popped up at the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I remember shaking my head in disbelief. Depp is good at playing peculiar characters, but I think most of us have had enough of it by now. That shtick has perhaps worn out. I hope that Depp finds some inspiration and tests himself in more serious films.

Still, I thought I would still enjoy him in the Pirates-films, but, when Sparrow appeared in Dead Men Tell No Tales, I realized that I didn’t look at that character the same way anymore, and the film wasn’t really all that interested in painting him in a good light. Here Jack Sparrow is presented more as an unhappy and confused alcoholic than a fun, dimwitted pirate. Whenever he did something dumb in this film, it came across as more sad than fun, to me.

Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario play the new young stars that team up with Sparrow, and even though I thought they were both somewhat bland and uninteresting choices as the new faces for the franchise, I enjoyed most of their work more than what I saw from Depp’s character. Thankfully, Javier Bardem, the antagonist of this film, is really fun to watch. Salazar, his ship, and the ghost sharks were my favorite things about the movie. Generally, though, I thought Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was somewhat predictable and filled with lazy jokes. It is yet another forgettable Pirates-sequel.

4.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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