Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales defied my expectations, of which I did not have many, and manages to solidify itself as one of the better installments in the franchise. Although there is much that remains formulaic, it presents itself as an entertaining film capable of keeping you distracted for a couple of hours without thought.
The overall plot of Dead Men Tell No Tales seemed very familiar to the first film in the franchise in the sense that the cast went back to a more ensemble piece. One way that this was done was by relegating Jack Sparrow’s character to a secondary role. Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg made a smart decision in keeping Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow as more of a supporting character because it allowed audience members to focus on the new characters that were introduced and flesh them out into real people rather than Jack Sparrow’s sidekicks.
The other reasion that Dead Men Tell No Tales seems familiar to the first film is due to how similar the structure of the plot is.
We are reintroduced to Jack Sparrow who’s so down on his luck that he can’t afford to keep the most loyal of crew members to stay with him. An old and, predictably, cursed nemesis of his, Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), is freed from his prison within the Devil’s Triangle when Jack accidentally sparks the trigger to free him. Now that Salazar is free, he is unleashing hell onto the seas and killing anything that resembles a pirate while he embarks on his quest to hunt down and get revenge on Jack Sparrow. Meanwhile, Jack Sparrow stumbles into Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) and discover that they are all after the same thing – Poseidon’s Trident. With this trident, any curse connected to the sea can be lifted and, ultimately, can be used to defeat Salazar.sidekicks.
Sound similar to Curse of the Black Pearl? Just a little bit.
However, unlike the Curse of the Black Pearl, there are bits and pieces of storyline and characters that either do not make sense or appeared to have been added as an afterthought. An example, without revealing any spoilers would be the inclusion of the evil British soldier (David Wenham). His inclusion into the storyline was a waste of time for both the audience as well as the actor.
The acting in Dead Men Tell No Tales is what we have come to expect with the franchise. Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp embody their characters once more. Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar is a captivatingly terrifying addition to the cast. You can tell he’s really having a good time as the prideful, sadistic Captain. He strikes a perfect balance between being frightening, but also making us entirely sympathetic towards his character and the reasons for why he is so desperately seeking revenge against Jack Sparrow. Brenton Thwaites’ Henry Turner took on the role of the straight arrow type with ease, but also played off the believer of the supernatural fairly well. His awkward flirtations with Kaya Scodelario’s Carina were played quite believably if one were to imagine how long his character had been out on the sea.
Although I had heard that this film was supposed to be the last one in the franchise, the ending was open ended enough that it could lead into another sequel. However, the film’s ending can also be interpreted as just the end of an era. Ultimately, it’ll be up to the powers that be and the audience to determine if we truly want to see more of Jack Sparrow.
Overall, if you are seeking out a film that is fun, fast-paced, and will keep you entertained for a couple of hours, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is your Memorial Day weekend film this year.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is out now in theaters.