Friday, May 26

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

Published: May 26, 2017
The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil's Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack's only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon.
Release: May 26, 2017 | Runtime: 129 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Back with its 5th installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales follows Jack Sparrow battling his biggest foe yet, a ship of the undead that will stop at nothing for his blood. Along the way Sparrow is joined by new and old characters for the legendary Trident of Poison as it may be their only hope to live.

I know you're probably thinking "oh great, another Pirates of the Caribbean movie" however I was pleasantly surprised. The film opens up with a connector to previous the films (I promise, no spoilers!) that leaves you engaged from the start followed by Jack Sparrow up to his usual, rum influenced antics.

On the other hand, this leads me to say that the film definitely fits the cookie cutter like mold of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with: villain wants Jack dead, Jack wants rum, insert a few love tense scenes, some sort of connection to previous films and of course a curse/legend. This isn't to say that the film is not entertaining. In fact I think Dead Men Tell No Tales had the best visuals, sounds, effects, etc. so far. Literally you can hear water dripping from the interior of the boat in some scenes and if watching in 3D you'll feel like you're on the ship it's so vivid.

As always there are quick jokes due to the cast's comedic timing as well as an epic adventure as they are chased and put into life threatening situations. Worth mentioning is the new heroine's personality which is just as curious, intelligent and high-spirited as her predecessor Elizabeth Swanson (Keira Knightley). Also Barbossa's ever changing character development and how he's nailed every one including in this film. There are also several returning characters that made me cheer and laugh all over again.

The antagonist Salazar will send chills down your spine as he calls himself death at one point. Although some of his crew look like the undead got erased by a number 2 pencil, he did a great job as a villain which can make or break a movie in my opinion.

While Dead Men Tell No Tales is not the best film of the franchise, it certainly is not te worst. If you are a fan of PotC then you will not be disappointed however the once drenching wet towel of excitement and freshness may be finally wrung dry.

Make sure to stay after the credits for an extra scene!

Ashley Ashley (Senior Contributor) is an Orlando native who loves watching movies. Her favorite genres include comedies, thrillers and sci-fi.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Ronning and Sandberg attempt to revive the critical impression of Verbinski's first Pirates film with a partial remake/soft reboot in the newest edition to the 14 year old franchise.

A movie based off of a Disney theme park ride, Gore Verbinski’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003) was a surprise critical and commercial success. Fresh, fun, and full of charm, the first “Pirates” movie was a perfect mix of action, adventure, romance and comedy with a complementary and chemistry filled all-star cast led by Johnny Depp as the hilariously mesmerizing, perpetually rum-addled, pirate antihero Jack Sparrow and Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly as the attractive (and separately interesting) young romantic leads.

Though the first film’s success spawned a very commercially successful franchise, the quality and critical success of the subsequent films has failed to mimic it. So it’s no surprise that after the fourth- and most/only separate or standalone- film, “On Stranger Tides”, an attempted return to form has been made in a partial remake/soft reboot of the one of the original.

The fifth and newest edition to Disney’s “Pirates” franchise, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is new directors’, Ronning and Sandberg, attempt to revive the franchise with a spiritual return to the first film; a similar formula, bringing back the old characters, but placing new ones at the center to carry on and refresh the story.

The story follows the young Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of Will Turner & Elizabeth Swann (Bloom & Knightley both returning their previous roles for brief points), as he searches for the powerful “Trident of Poseidon”- an item that grants its wielder control over the seas and can help him break the curse of Davy Jones that binds Will to his ghost ship. Following a sequence of unfortunate yet serendipitous- in a way too convenient way- events, Henry meets the rum-addled Jack Sparrow (Depp) and attractive young Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), an orphan educated in science- astronomy and horology (the jokes abound)- who possesses the map, that only she can read, to the trident’s location. With Jack’s ship and crew and Carina’s knowledge, Henry begins his journey to free his father. But not long after setting sail they find themselves pursued by the undead crew of Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), a vengeful, pirate-hunting (and hating) Spanish naval captain that a young Jack managed to trick into a deadly and cursed fate. With the now fat-cat Barbossa as his reluctant aid, the undead Salazar seeks Jack and the trident, to exact his revenge by killing the former and using the latter to eradicate all piracy.

It’s all very familiar- the swashbuckling pirates, zombie crews, jail/execution escapes, secret islands, ship battles, family ties (old and newly discovered), young hero romance, sea curses and the search/battle for the MacGuffin-like plot devices that bind or break them. While mirroring aspects of all the “Pirates” movies, DMTNT follows almost the exact formula of the first. And though it worked great for the COTBP, it feels a bit too forced and formulaic here. Henry and Carina are basically updated versions of his parent’s- with Carina getting some modern feminist appeal and more of a backstory (that ties too conveniently in). They’re young, attractive, and thrown together in the adventure, but unlike their predecessors, it’s extremely hard to believe- let alone root- for their love; where the romance was the heart of the original film (and the first 2 sequels), here it is wholly underdeveloped. And while Jack remains at the separate center of the love story, the scene-stealing ability of Depp’s original portrayal is gone. We get a good amount of him- maybe too much- but without that strong spark behind the humor and charm that made the character so loved. Depp’s performance seems phoned-in too much of the time.

As for the rest of the cast, Bardem is a marvelous actor and he does what he can to bring a unique spin to the role, but the whole single-minded revenge-seeking zombie pirate/pirate-hunter thing gets tired kind of quickly. Rush’s returns as Barbossa are always welcome and his character has some interesting new looks and discoveries to contend with. While Bloom & Knightley’s returns were the most anticipated they serve as more of extended cameos (particularly Knightley’s). But the tying up of their story and it’s emotional payoff are still rewarding.

A spectacle of special effects/CGI, there are just as many (maybe more) seemingly unnecessary or unappealing uses of effects as there are ones that paid off- while Bardem’s Salazar is obviously given more focus (maybe a bit too much) the rest of the undead crew’s appearance effects seem to lack attention.

Overall, as an attempt to recapture the magic and aesthetic that made the first film such a success, the fifth “Pirates” installment falls fairly short. It’s too busy and simultaneously too contrived, with too many threads weaving too conveniently together. But in comparison to the preceding sequels it’s more or less above the line. If viewed as a standalone, it might even be better. With some slapstick comedy and a few enjoyable action scenes, the latest installment is entertaining enough, but a far cry from the enjoyment of the franchise’s debut.

The end does leave room for another film, but it could also allow for the franchise to be retired here. Which would be the better option is debatable.

Liz Liz (Contributor) is an ardent cinephile from West Philadelphia. She enjoys all genres and generations of cinema and has a particular love for independent and foreign films

Rating: 2 out of 5