The long-awaited “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” is finally being released in theaters this week, after nearly three years since its initial announcement in July of 2014.
The fifth tale in the saga brings Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp, back to the big screen with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. After what seemed like an endless spell of bad luck, a vengeful figure from Sparrow’s past, Capital Salazar, played by Javier Bardem, escapes from the Devil’s Triangle, hell-bent on killing every pirate at sea, mainly Jack himself.
Jack’s only hope is to find the Trident of Poseidon, which can remove any curse at sea. In order to find this artifact, he’ll have to join forces with Carina Smyth, an astronomer with a mysterious past (Kaya Scodelario), and Henry Turner, the son of the ill-fated Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann (Brendon Thwaites). Along the way he will cross paths with figures from his past, including Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), as he tries to escape his misfortune and live to tell the tale.
The practical sets in this film are quite extravagant, with plenty of minute detail to look at and enjoy. My personal favorite was the island with millions of jewels replicating the stars in the sky. The overhead shots in that sequence are absolutely gorgeous to see.
Even the CGI in this film was incredibly well done. With a budget of $230 million, it’s no surprise that no expense was spared in the digital graphics used for the ghostly visuals that accompanied Salazar and his crew. From each singed fragment that fell from Captain Salazar to the exposed insides of the ghost sharks, the visuals blended in so well that I nearly forgot that those effects were CGI at all.
The cast for this film was nothing new other than the three main additions: Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth, Brendon Thwaites as Henry Turner, and Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar. I adored Scodelario and Thwaites’ chemistry together, even if their character arcs intertwined a little too quickly at the end. Bardem was a bit campy as Salazar, and his acting talent albeit underutilized. He was mostly onscreen hissing “Jack Sparrow,” and not much else throughout the film.
Also, the surprising cameo from Paul McCartney as Sparrow’s “Uncle Jack” was very fun, giving the legend a chance to have some witty banter with the Captain, as well as sing a few lines from the song “Maggie May.” I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about his cameo beforehand, but I enjoyed it upon watching.
Without spoiling the film, the relationship between Carina Smyth and a connection from her past is my favorite part of the entire film. One gut-wrenching revelation toward the end hit the emotional beat perfectly, and it nearly broke my heart to watch.
The plot and script, however, left some to be desired. Crammed full of in-your-face innuendos and intoxicated Captain Jack jokes, the humor seemed a bit less nuanced as some of the previous installations in the franchise. I definitely remember rolling my eyes more than once at a few of the one-liners.
The plot felt all over the place, as Jack was once again on a quest to find an artifact that would save his skin and give him control of the sea. In a way, it felt like we were retreading the same steps as “On Stranger Tides,” with a different title and a bit more nostalgia thrown in for the longtime fans.
Overall, I don’t think I could count myself among those who think that “Dead Men Tell No Tales” will breathe new life into the “Pirates” series, but I did enjoy what I saw without a critical lens. “Pirates” has always been funny and exciting, and always gives the audience a thrill to see what antics Captain Jack might find himself in next. This tale, I believe, could reasonably be the last, letting the franchise end on a high note.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” is rated PG-13, and is available in Disney Digital 3D, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D. While I usually prefer 3D movies to the conventional viewing option, I would say that seeing the film in 3D isn’t entirely necessary. There is one end credit sequence, so be sure to stay until the very end to catch it.
In the parks:
- In Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, guests can take a boat ride on the classic attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean; transform themselves into pirates and mermaids at The Pirates League boutique; seek adventure and treasure with the RFID game, “A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas;” watch “Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial” stage show in the Caribbean Plaza; or enjoy the Pirates and Pals fireworks voyage at Disney’s Contemporary Resort; catch a pirate-themed segment in the new nighttime spectacular, “Happily Ever After.”
- At Disneyland Resort, you can experience the original “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction that started it all, located in New Orleans Square; visit the Blue Bayou restaurant, located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction; be thrilled by a fiery pirate-themed sequence in “World of Color.”
- On the Disney Cruise Line, enjoy an array of pirate activities like the “Pirate Boat Sail and Snorkel Adventure;” the “Pirates of the Bay Evening Sail and Show;” “Pirate Night,” which includes character performances, fireworks and live entertainment; guests can even enjoy a smaller version of Walt Disney World’s The Pirates League, which is transformed from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique when the sun sets.
- At Disneyland Paris, climb aboard the famous Pirate Galleon for a true adventure on a life-size pirate ship; enjoy the classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction; or explore the Pirate’s Beach, a playground area for children.
- At Tokyo Disneyland, enjoy the Disney park staple attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean.
- At Shanghai Disney Resort, a whole new pirate adventure awaits with an entire themed land called Treasure Cove. Guests can meet Captain Jack Sparrow himself; take a voyage in the Explorer Canoes; climb aboard the authentic pirate ship, the Siren’s Revenge; romp around in the themed play park, Shipwreck Shore; watch Captain Jack encounter daring thrills with “Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular;” enjoy a meal at Barbossa’s Bounty restaurant; and finally, experience what might be the best Pirates attraction in any Disney park, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure.
Catch the trailer for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” below. The film releases worldwide on May 26, 2017.
For more thoughts on the new movie, here’s our video review: