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

In this newest installment, Captain Jack Sparrow must team up with a young astronomer and a young man in the British navy to find Poseidon’s trident and stop the evil, undead Captain Salazar.

Dead Men Tell No Tales is the 5th installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. It brings Captain Jack Sparrow to the screen again, reprised by Johnny Depp. It brings back Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbosa. It introduces three new characters, played by Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner), Brenton Thwaites (Oculus), and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men). It also sees the return of Keira Knightly and Orlando Bloom to the series as Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner respectively.

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It has definitely been a while since the release of the previous sequel, On Stranger Tides, in 2011. It would appear that this movie spent a good amount of time in development limbo, suffering various script and budget issues.

While watching the movie, it’s very apparent that the creators tried to head back to the tone of The Curse of the Black Pearl. That first installment was definitely the best in this franchise, and it would be nice to see a new installment reach somewhere close to those heights.

Dead Men Tell No Tales attempts to follow the same tone as The Curse of the Black Pearl by having a similar plot set up. It brings back the spunky banter between two young leads. It has undead pirates that look like skeletons and can walk on the ocean floor. It has some pretty grand stakes and big situations.

It attempts to recreate the feeling of wonder that the first film had, but it manages to feel hollow. During the opening scene of the movie, when Sparrow and his band of pirates attempt a “bank robbery” that runs spectacularly awry, I couldn’t help but feel like they were just going through the motions. The heart wasn’t there. It just felt like a spectacle that had the Pirates of the Caribbean theme music playing on top of it.

After a poor start in my book, Dead Men Tell No Tales does manage to pick up and become entertaining. It still felt forced to me in many respects, but it does become more enjoyable. I know I would prefer this installment over On Stranger Tides. It’s an improvement in that regard.

One of my biggest complaints was actually Johnny Depp’s performance as Jack Sparrow. I wouldn’t have thought that I’d have a problem with his portrayal of a character that he almost completely embodies, but I did here. It felt like Depp was getting his own roles mixed up. There were moments where Depp didn’t feel like Jack Sparrow. He felt like Willy Wonka in a pirate costume. He wasn’t my favorite part of this movie by any means.

Even though it’s not that great of a movie, definitely not the best in the series, there are some great things about it. Javier Bardem does a fantastic job as the villain Captain Salazar. I haven’t seen his role in No Country for Old Men, but I have seen his role in Skyfall. He can be incredibly menacing. That menacing character shows in this movie. It’s very compelling.

I also enjoyed seeing a bit of backstory on Captain Jack Sparrow. We get to see a bit of his glory days, what made him the man of legend. I had to get over a bit of uncomfortable visual effects and performance to get a “young” Johnny Depp, but the story they were attempting to show was interesting.

Without a doubt, the best part of this movie for me was the return of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. It was so nice to see both Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly return to these roles. They have a great chemistry together, and it was wonderful to see that again. In the end, it made the whole movie worth it for me. All the events came together to make the reunion happen, so for me it had purpose.

I’m not sure if there will be another installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise in the future. At this point, I’m hoping there won’t be. The ending of this movie gives a fitting end to the series and the characters we’ve grown to love. I don’t think it would be too much of a disappointment to fans if it ended here.

It’s all about money though, and if producers feel that another Pirates of the Caribbean film will be lucrative, there will be another one. If they do pursue another one, I would hope that they focus on the relationship between the two new young characters. There is potential story there. I would hope that they leave Captain Jack Sparrow behind. The character has run its course, and I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t find him as entertaining anymore.

In any case, I’m almost positive there will probably be a sixth installment. I just don’t know when it will come to fruition. I can only hope they can return to the glory that the series used to have, at least in entertainment value.

If you’ve been a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean series so far, then you will probably enjoy Dead Men Tell No Tales. It’s not the worst installment in the series by any means. It has some kernels to enjoy at least.


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