Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a Fun, but Flawed High Seas Adventure

Written by Tommy Tracy

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Plot Summary:

Captain Jack Sparrow returns in a new adventure, in search of the Trident of Poseidon. Along the way, he awakens a deadly and vengeful ghost, picks up a new crew and reunites with his long lost best friend of the sea. Crazy hijinks ensue.

Well here we are, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth installment in the Pirates franchise. Way back in 2003, I sat in a theater, not really excited to see The Curse of the Black Pearl, wondering why they were making a movie based off a theme park ride. Two and a half hours later, I was enthralled and happy I paid (I mean my mom paid) the money to see it. Two decent and one awful sequel later, we arrive at the supposed last film in the franchise (it won’t be) and I felt the same way sitting in the theater, unsure if I was going to see a fun action-adventure film or a pointless sequel interested only in stuffing Johnny Depp and Disney’s wallet. Again, I left happily surprised.

Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow, the best/worst pirate we’ve ever seen. His natural charisma radiates off the screen from the moment he appears. It’s safe to say Depp is always interesting to see, even when he’s not giving us his best work. At this point, it feels like he is playing a caricature of a caricature that he created fourteen years ago. His quirks were tired in On Stranger Tides but he finds a nice balance between genius and off the walls psychotic. We are reintroduced to the character robbing a bank in the film’s most fun (and funny sequence).

At the same time, Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) is attempting to escape certain death for being a witch. Carina is a woman of science, attempting to read the stars. She is rescued by Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner, who is in search for Sparrow. Henry is spared death by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), a ghost whose crew was killed by Sparrow many years ago. Captain Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) also returns, trying to reclaim his reign of the sea. All of our main characters are brought together through one simple goal: finding Poseidon’s Trident.

The plot is simple, yet the writing is incredibly complicated. How many times do we need to see these pirates and outlaws screw people over for personal gain? This has literally happened in every film and it’s a little tired at this point. Henry makes a deal with Salazar but turns on him to help Jack. Barbosa does the same exact thing. And Jack, well, he screws everyone over. There’s also the claim of Carina’s father still being alive and if you’re paying attention you can call it from a mile away.

The best part of the film are the visuals. The ghosts look awesome, especially when the scenery is pitch black. They are terrifying, especially Bardem who is one of the creepiest monsters I’ve ever seen on screen. Bardem is great; you completely understand his mission and he was actually someone I sympathized with. Unfortunately, he’s a little hard to understand while speaking but I blame that more on the sound mixing than I do Bardem’s performance. The CGI and practical effects really kick in during any ship battles; you don’t think these are film sets, it feels as though they are actually on the high seas.

This is not a BAD film. A lot of “film buffs” will claim it’s just another cash grab and that Depp has lost his muster but there is fun to be had. If you’re not tired of Depp being Depp, this one is one hundred percent for you. With some very great visuals and a pretty fun bad guy, you can’t say you wasted two hours of your life. However, the plot is very thin and you can call each plot point about twenty minutes before it comes (especially that ending, which I will not spoil here). If this is that last hurrah, I think they went out on a nice note. If not, I fear how deeper this franchise can sink.

Score: 6.5/10