A coherent plot and chemistry between the romantic leads are noticeably missing in the fifth film of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The film’s scattershot approach to storytelling touches upon a hunt for a mythical item known as Poseidon’s Trident, a ghost ship with a crew of walking dead pirates out for revenge, a son longing for a reunion with his father, and repeated missions to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). No single storyline feels adequately developed and the new key players in the cast are completely forgettable additions to the Disney franchise.
The film introduces Henry (Brenton Thwaites) as the grown son of Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner and Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann. Henry’s determined to free his father from the Flying Dutchman which means he must go on a quest to find the Trident of Poseidon. Carina (Kaya Scodelario) joins the quest as a young astronomer who’s viewed with fear by men because she’s independent and intelligent. And Captain Jack Sparrow somehow ties into this mission while also being hunted down by the vicious dead pirate Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) who needs the Trident to free his undead crew.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales should be the final film of the Pirates franchise, however it most likely won’t be as the franchise is still a cash cow for the Mouse House. Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow was a fun treat for audiences of all ages when he drunkenly sauntered onto the screen in 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Captain Sparrow was warmly welcomed back in 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest, but by 2007’s At World’s End the shtick had grown old and the appeal of this campy, kooky character was wearing thin. Then came 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides which was basically just a hodge-podge collection of action sequences. The 2017 Pirates attempts to capture the pure joy of the original film but falls short in large part due to Johnny Depp’s younger cast mates.
The Dead Men Tell No Tales combination of Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario can’t compare to the team of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, actors who had natural chemistry on screen. Thwaites and Scodelario are fine in their roles but just don’t mesh, much to the detriment of the film. (The vibe is more sibling-ish than romantic.) Fortunately, Geoffrey Rush’s return as the ruthless Captain Barbossa and the addition of Javier Bardem as the long-dead Captain Salazar elevate the supporting characters and help carry the action adventure film through many of the rough parts of the script.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales features incredible special effects and occasional laughs provided by Depp’s Sparrow, but Pirates fans shouldn’t expect this fifth Pirates film to stand up well in comparison to the original. The franchise has grown long in the tooth and the film’s final scene would be a satisfying end to the series, if Disney’s willing to let their cash cow go before it outstays its welcome.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of adventure violence, and some suggestive content
Directed By: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg
Running Time: 129 minutes
Release Date: May 26, 2017