The first thought that came to mind after viewing this film was how fun it was. It has been a long time since I’ve been to a movie that was fun and distracted me completely for a couple of hours and the fifth installment of Pirates definitely kept me distracted. That being said, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is not perfect by any means. However, it is better than On Stranger Tides, which I think can allow everyone to expel a sigh of relief.
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. There has been some complaint, especially with the previous film, that Jack Sparrow was too much of the focus on screen. 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 way that Dead Men Tell No Tales was familiar to the first film was because the general structure of plot was very similar. 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.
There were certain plot points that were either unnecessary or rather confusing taking into account everything that had transpired prior to this latest installment. I will not discuss specific plot points so as to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. I will mention that the inclusion of the evil British soldier (David Wenham) wanting to secure the Trident so that the British Empire could rule the seas was not only a waste of time due to the lack of payoff, but also wasted the use of a reasonably decent actor.
Despite the familiarity of the plot, the way that it was executed worked out in the film’s favor in terms of character development. It was enjoyable to see how the newly introduced characters developed over the course of the film, more specifically Carina. Now, say what you will about the character, but Carina is not to be compared to Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann. Here is a woman who has basically raised herself as an orphan and only wants to pursue education, but keeps being stopped due to the patriarchal systems in place. And her main goal involving the search for Poseidon’s Trident? To discover her identity and her lineage. We are taken through her journey throughout the film and her journey is probably the most compelling.
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 will be out in theaters this Friday, May 26, 2017.