Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
Release Date: May 26th, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg Actors: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Martin Klebba, Orlando Bloom
fter the events of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” the Flying Dutchman still retains a curse that ensnares Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) in a dire fate of captaining a barnacled vessel that must stay asea. But Turner’s son, young Henry (Brenton Thwaites), is determined to break the curse by finding the location of the mythical trident of Poseidon, which can conveniently bring an end to all seabound sorcery. The man who can aid in his quest, however, is the perpetually drunken, undependable, filthy pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who has miraculously eluded the boy – and the authorities – for years.
“I know every legend and every curse,” insists Henry, though his knowledge doesn’t save him from being pronounced treasonous and thrown in the brig of a British galleon, just before it’s devoured by the ghost pirates of Devil’s Triangle, led by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) – an undead sailor who has searched endlessly for Sparrow, whom he holds responsible for his existence as a zombified monster (a motive not far removed from those possessed by the antagonists of the last few films). When Henry locates Sparrow first, the two are joined by astronomer and horologist Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), the double-crossing Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and the remnants of Sparrow’s old crew from the Black Pearl (including Kevin McNally as Gibbs and Martin Klebba as Marty), in a race to the trident – which is also sought by Salazar and the redcoats.
Despite being an immediate improvement over the last two theatrical outings, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” never really offers anything new to audiences – who will surely be content with more of the same things that kept this series profitable all the way to this fifth part. It essentially boasts a story built around little more than the title itself. Additionally, it’s difficult to dismiss the inclusion of ghost pirates again (an army of CG minions with missing body parts), an island of murderous settlers, a legendary weapon, a cryptic treasure map, the magical compass, a voodoo priestess, duels across the bows and along the sides of ships, and Sparrow’s inordinate luck (along with his slurred, occasionally unintelligible dialogue, which is particularly ironic considering the recent accusations that his lines are fed to him via hidden earpieces). Fortunately, the blend of action and comedy are also back, along with the familiarly rousing theme music that amplifies the momentum of the adventure. The swashbuckling creativity is correspondingly stepped up to generate impressive fantasy concepts and awe-inspiring visuals.
A bank robbery on St. Martin’s is the first big action sequence, harking back to the best moments from the 2003 film that started it all. This new set piece is comical, thrilling, smartly complex, and massively destructive, mixing in stunts and a peppy rhythm that holds its own against the skirmishes in the original. Sadly, this bit is never matched (or outdone) as the picture plays out, though the proceeding endeavors nevertheless uphold a sense that they could all be converted to a Disneyland ride (this is especially true for a following execution/rescue scene and the maiden voyage of the Dying Gull as it plunges into the water). The uninspired villains are the major low point (a pointless flashback chronicles Salazar’s origins, ignoring the simpler, default explanation that Sparrow merely wronged him), along with snippy insults and light romance to fill in the gaps between action. Plus, the finale is sappy, overlong, and packed with eye-rolling coincidences. But it’s still a superior production compared to the last couple of attempts and it definitely feels like a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
– Mike Massie