Film Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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Check out our film review below of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales!

Review by Chloe Palka

THE STORY: The Pirates movies tend to center on a quest for a particular item or person of power. This one is no exception. The central story focuses on a quest for the trident of Poseidon, a mythic item of legend that – if it actually exists – is said to hold power over the sea and all of its curses. Because of that, pretty much everyone is after it for different reasons – Henry to break his father Will’s curse so he can come home, Jack to get Capt. Salazar off his back, Barbossa to avoid losing the power and riches he has amassed as a privateer, and several other parties for their own reasons. Secondarily, there is the main villain of Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), who blames Jack Sparrow for the ghostly, trapped existence that he and his crew now lead – you will find out why in the movie. He was confined to the Devil’s Triad, but due to a careless move by a down-on-his-luck (even more so than usual) Jack, Salazar and his crew are freed to seek their vengeance.

The effects are the strongest point of the film. Pirates has always done a great job at this – not only cool action scenes (sword fighting, high seas battles), but amazing supernatural elements bending physics with the ocean. As a spoiler, they split the ocean down to the seafloor at one point. There’s also an outrageous bank heist scene that goes awry when instead of stealing the vault, Jack’s crew manages to steal the entire bank and ride through the town with the huge building.

The two new main cast members are Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner, Will and Elizabeth’s son, and Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth, a woman of science who has been condemned as a witch. They are both lovely – very charismatic, capable, and badass (especially her). They both tie into the original story and characters in expected and very unexpected ways. (MAJOR SPOILER: She is Barbossa’s daughter)

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is the most iconic role of the franchise. There are still plenty of ridiculous antics and funny lines for him, but he seems to have gone a bit soft. It’s not a bad thing – actually quite endearing, how he seems to ship Henry and Carina and subtly help them along – but he’s closer to the drunken uncle (his own drunken uncle shows up in the form of Paul McCartney) than the swashbuckling, out-for-himself Jack Sparrow we first met in this franchise.

Returning characters: It is so good to have Will and Elizabeth (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley) back, but they don’t have enough to do. They were the heart of this story at its beginning and its best, and it’s good to have them back but it’s not really enough.

Javier Bardem does a good job as Captain Salazar. He and his crew look amazing and super creepy – some of the crew walk around with only half of their bodies (or less) there, which looks awesome. The sound mixing is a little weird so you can’t always understand what he’s saying that well. He’s menacing and has a pretty interesting backstory. Plus he has ghost sharks, which are very very cool and need their own bad disaster movie.

There is a post-credits scene that seems to hint that all is not well for Orlando Bloom (Will Turner / Davy Jones). Setting up for a sequel or just creepy? Guess we will have to wait and see.

Overall verdict: It doesn’t top the first three movies (particularly #1 and #3), but it’s closer to the heart of the franchise and more successful than #4 and a better send-off if this is indeed the end of the horizon. 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales hits theaters nationwide TODAY!