PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES 7 out of 10; Directed by Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg; Written by Jeff Nathanson; Starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush,Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario and Orlando Bloom; Rated PG-13 for sequences of adventure violence, and some suggestive content; Running time 129 minutes; In wide release May 26, 2017
Who knew there were so many cursed pirates sailing the seven seas? Though the Curse of the Black Pearl was lifted long ago, a barnacle-covered Will Turner still serves as captain of The Flying Dutchman, and we are introduced to a suffering Spanish pirate Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) who vows revenge upon Jack Sparrow. It's easy to think that Jack himself must be cursed since so many who cross his path meet unlucky fates.
Will the son of Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner, face a similar fate? Growing up near the ocean, Henry studies everything he possibly can to find a way to break his father's curse and bring him home. The fabled Trident of Poseidon holds the power to breaking any curse on the ocean, but no one knows how to find it. Henry's adventures lead him to Jack Sparrow and Carina Smyth, an educated woman facing execution for being a witch.
The two young newcomers played their parts well, but I found their characters bland compared to Will and Elizabeth. Henry is too idealistic and innocent, Carina comes across as defiant and not easy to like. But I suppose if someone kept trying to hang me simply because I'm a woman and like science, I might be sassy and a bit untrusting too.
This is now my third favorite film in the franchise. At World's End ended in a way that was unsatisfactory to me, and the bleaker tone of the film made it a pale imitation to its more light-hearted predecessors. I don’t even remember On Stranger Tides. Is that the movie where the Black Pearl ended up in the bottle? I know I saw it but it wasn't memorable.
The new installment is a return to the more comedic parts of the franchise, as well as rollicking adventure. Jack Sparrow is down on his luck, and while Depp’s portrayal is more caricature than character at this point, we still want to see the pirate win the upper hand.
The race to locate the Trident before Salazar reminded me a bit of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where the person in possession of the relic will have unimaginable power. There’s also a diary that helps them along the way. And the hero is named Henry.
The visual effects looked incredible, and through the magic of CGI we see a younger Jack Sparrow and how he acquired his tricorn hat (and yes I see Spielberg everywhere but it did feel like another nod to The Last Crusade). I didn’t feel the scene ventured into the uncanny valley, and we’ve come a long way in de-aging of actors since Tron: Legacy.
There’s a lot going on in this movie. A lot of characters and double-crossing and triple-crossing. Statements on educated women and how society perceives them. Secrets are revealed that really don’t lend much to the plot other than to lend a little gravitas to the ending. And there are creepy sharks. Too bad the Black Pearl is stuck in the bottle. They could use a bigger boat.
Overall, Dead Men Tell No Tales is a fun addition to the successful franchise. Was it a film that needed to be made? Not really. My expectations weren’t high, though, so I was pleasantly surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s entertaining with plenty of action and a little bit of heart. If you were a fan of the first film, or even the others, I think you should give this a chance. Savvy?