After a six year hiatus and a poorly received previous entry to the franchise Pirates of the Caribbean returns with ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’. The fifth movie in the franchise aims to bring the series back to its roots and allow for new stories to be told, which it does pretty well. However in a few places the movie just falls short, but if your’e looking for something more akin to the better received pirates movies this might just be your thing. Plus its the shortest movie in the franchise… that’s good I guess?
One thing this film does great, as the other ones do is give you amazing action set pieces. You know that as soon as Jack Sparrow appears antics will ensue, which they do. But also these set pieces are actually inventive, I think apart from one scene cannon battles aren’t even used which is a breath of fresh air. Without spoiling it (not much to spoil really though) there’s intense ship battles akin to ‘At Worlds End’s 50 minute sequence, enough slapstick to shake a stick at and sharks… zombie… pirate… sharks! On the whole this aspect of the film and franchise holds true in this instalment, wacky, clever and funny action.
Johnny Depp is obviously back as Jack, Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa and Javier Bardem as the titular Salazar. Whilst he is clearly a shoehorned villain his talent shines through. Barbossa is a welcome addition as always and adds the much needed element of constant double-crossing that this film lacks from the franchise. But Jack Sparrow, now I don’t know if it’s intentional or not but, he is just a drunk. He used to be a clever drunk who could somehow do more than walk in a straight line but here he is just drunk, not really doing too much. This might be to make way for the new cast, who are the next Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. They’re okay, they definitely act better and have better chemistry than Orlando Bloom the wet sponge (almost literally at this point) and Keira Knightley. Even David Wenham is in this movie and sadly criminally underused. The cast is a mixed bag this time around but the writing for the new ‘love couple’ is what carries it.
Sadly however the plot is completely by the numbers. The only good twist being the after credits scene one. The rest is just so telegraphed that it hurts, you know exactly whats gonna happen, what Mcguffin will lead to the next one. With things seemingly being pulled out a hat. At least previously the mcguffin had a decent plot around it, with double-crosses, rescues and understandable character motivations.
Now the special effects are again something to marvel at, for those viewers who love pirates aesthetic and lore this film will do you proud. The villainous enemy pirate design is interesting as per usual and goes hand in hand with the action.
However the main problem this film faces is that to some its just another pirates movie, and is a bit by the numbers. However it has great action akin to the original, interesting world building elements and cameos to boot. All this will satisfy a fan, however as a movie this one just falls short despite going in the right direction for a pirates movie.