Action Adventure

'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales' Film Review: A big, fun splash in a sea of summer sequels and reboots

May 26, 2017Ben MK

A long time ago, in a moviegoing galaxy far, far away, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was one of the crown jewels in Disney's live-action library. Then along came the recent Star Wars films, not to mention the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Suffice to say, it seemed like Captain Jack Sparrow and his band of gruff-yet-lovable, seafaring scallywags were all but destined to walk the plank into obscurity.

Ah, but if there's a lesson to be learned from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, it's that you should never count a good pirate out — especially when that pirate is played by Johnny Depp. Because although Depp has portrayed some memorable characters in his time, his swaggering, slightly askew rendition of Jack Sparrow has stood the test of time. Just ask Javier Bardem, who stars opposite Depp as Captain Salazar, a ghostly pirate hunter with an axe to grind against Jack, the man who condemned him to wither away in purgatory.

Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg and written by Jeff Nathanson, this fifth Pirates installment finds Jack muddling through a spate of harsh luck. He's gone from captaining one of the sea's most legendary vessels, the Black Pearl, to steering a rickety boat named the Dying Gull. His crew have abandoned him after a string of bungled attempts at plundering. And now, one of the most single-minded and unrelenting adversaries he'll ever face has been freed from his supernatural prison, the Devil's Triangle, and is leading a small army thirsty for revenge.

At the same time, however, Jack finds himself characteristically in luck. After all, how else can you explain his fortuitous crossing-of-paths with two of the sequel's new characters, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina (Kaya Scodelario)? As Salazar closes in, the trio form an uneasy accord to quest for the trident of Poseidon, the only thing that can stop Salazar, and an item that holds special significance for both Henry, the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, and Carina, a headstrong, science-minded young woman out to uncover her true lineage.

The result is a fun, funny and action-packed adventure that does a rousing job harkening back to the series' roots. In fact, the main reason why Dead Men Tell No Tales seems so able at rekindling the spirit of the franchise is because of its many parallels with 2003's The Curse of the Black Pearl. Taking a cue from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which benefited hugely from moviegoers' insatiable nostalgia for A New Hope, Dead Men Tell No Tales tips its buccaneer's hat aplenty to the original, while also doubling as an all-hands-on-deck handoff to a new generation.

That said, does Dead Men Tell No Tales signify the last we'll be seeing of Captain Jack Sparrow? If so, it makes for a fitting farewell, not just for him, but for Will, Elizabeth and, yes, even Geoffrey Rush's Captain Barbossa, concluding their various arcs with poetic irony, emotion and set piece after visually thrilling set piece (plus a cameo from Sir Paul McCartney, to boot). However, even if that isn't the case — if this marks the beginning of a whole new chapter in Jack's continuing high seas adventures — that's still far from a cause for mutiny.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales releases May 26th, 2017 from Walt Disney Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for sequences of adventure violence, and some suggestive content. Its runtime is 2 Hrs. 9 Mins.

You May Also Like