Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review

Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow in the fifth instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean Franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales. This time Jack must search for the Trident of Poseidon, a device so powerful that it can destroy all the curses of the sea. Joining Jack on his adventure are Henry Turner, the son of some familiar Pirates characters (It’s not a spoiler you find out early), and Carina Smyth, a woman of science who is able to read the map to the Trident. Pursuing them is the villain, Captain Salazar and his crew of cursed sailors who seek revenge on Jack Sparrow. The film stars Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario and David Wenham.

Pirates 3
Image via Disney


I will start up front by saying this movie was more fun than some of the previous movies in the series but like all the other films, it suffers from the fact that the first movie is brilliant. I did enjoy this movie for what it was but like all things there are negatives and sometimes it is easier to notice them. There are positives about the movie including the visuals, the concept and the young talent.

Back in 2003 Johnny Depp was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow and it was well deserved. He brought something incredible and offered a level of depth that no one expected. Then the character became a parody of him where in he would try to out do himself with each performance. The problem with this movie is the character is completely unlikable. He has become an annoying drunk who has given up on everything. He now has a new trait that everyone must pay tribute to him for everything, which the movie displays a backstory too but the problem with that is he never asks for tributes in any of the other movies. Normally with a Pirates movie people will always say at least Johnny Depp is good. You can’t say that about this film.

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Image via Disney

Pirates of the Caribbean has always had great actors and created great villains, and Dead Men Tell No Tales is no different. Javier Bardem was fantastic as the villain, Salazar who has a hatred of pirates that drives him to slaughter them all. It makes sense that he would want to kill Jack Sparrow given his wife played a former lover of Jack’s in On Stranger Tides, where she did a fantastic job as the villain’s daughter. For every great villain there is often a weaker one, and in this case it is David Wenham, who through no fault of his own offers nothing to the movie. David Wenham is one of my favourite Australian Actors (Check out his performance in Gettin’ Square) and he is completely wasted in this story, his role as a British Naval officer offers so little to the plot that most people would not remember he was in the movie.

Image via Disney

I was really impressed by the young talent brought into this film. Most people would know Kaya Scodelario from her role in Skins and Brenton Thwaites from the Australian attempt at Skins called Slide. Thwaites is a capable young actor who for some reason always ends up in movies that are not all that well received. Both of these actors were a highlight to watch and made the movie all the better for it. I hope to see more of Scodelario in Hollywood as a strong lead because she was a lot more believable than some other actors in this franchise.

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Image via Disney

I am one of the few people I know who actually enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I liked how it moved away from the small world that seemed to exist inside the first three movies and examined a legend of the sea to create a fun adventure movie. That’s why I was excited for the new movie Dead Men Tell No Tales, because the idea of searching for the Trident of Poseidon sounds like an interesting adventure story that is not out side the realm of films that searched for the Fountain of Youth or the Cursed Treasure of Cortez. There are overall elements of the story that work well but there is just too much pointless aspect to the movie such as the witch who is just there, the British Navy who are just there, Jack Sparrow’s out of character behaviour that is just there.

If you look at the first movie and the fourth movie there is such potential to create an incredible adventure series set in the Golden Age of Piracy in one of the most beautiful areas of the world. These movies could have been similar to the National Treasure movies and could bring in famous pirates from history and literature (Look at Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag). If they had decided to treat each movie as its own property I believe this franchise would have been a massive success critically. Pirates 5 falls into the trap of creating a small world where everything is linked to Jack Sparrow and now bringing in the children of previous characters as protagonists. My partner appreciated the way it all tied in and gave a better resolution to the original trilogy than At Worlds End did. I thought the world was just too small and that’s coming from a Star Wars fan. This probably won’t be the last film in the series and if it is not I hope that we move away from Jack Sparrow bring back Thwaites and Scodelario to explore more myths of the sea.

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Image via Disney

If you are a fan of the series you should check out this movie but don’t get your hopes too high. The visuals are definitely worth checking out in cinemas but it can be enjoyed on Blu Ray.


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales scores 5/10

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