Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Over this fine holiday weekend, we were able to go see the latest installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales. Admittedly, I walked into this movie with somewhat high expectations after being impressed with several of their trailers. I was intrigued with Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar, and I was genuinely curious as to what adventure would bring all of these characters together. With Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley also returning as Will and Elizabeth Turner, my interest continued to be piqued.
I will say that the beginning of the film drew me in immediately. We are introduced to a young Henry Turner, who is insistent on seeing his father, Will, on the Flying Dutchman. It’s a short set-up, but one that lets us know that this is a boy who just misses his Dad. He swears then that he will find a way to break the curse. Time skips forward nine years, and we find Henry Turner being faithful to his word. He hasn’t broken his father’s curse yet, but he knows what is required. He has learned all that he can about the tales and myths of the sea, and he seems prepared for what comes ahead. After Salazar and his crew attack the ship he’s on, though, he’s told to find Captain Jack Sparrow and let him know that death is coming for him. After that we see what Jack has been up to, and we’re introduced to a young woman, Carina, who seems to hold the key to finding what Henry desires, Poseidon’s trident. After several twists and turns, we see Captain Jack and his crew, Henry, Carina, and even Captain Barbosa, trying to find the trident before Salazar can kill Jack and before the British can catch them.
In reality, this film has several beats and characters that are reminiscent of the original Pirates of the Caribbean. However, they don’t quite manage to deliver a movie as good as the original. While the first thirty minutes are hilarious and enticing, the plot becomes a little convoluted as it continues. There wasn’t much set up as to why the trident was so important outside of “we need it to break the curse.” Several key events of the story also relied on Jack’s compass, which was a little strange. We’re familiar with that compass from all of the previous films, and while I’m alright when them adding another layer to it, the lore of the compass wasn’t really explained until after events were already put in motion. Also, some of the motivations for the characters seemed a little weak.
However, this film is still a lot of fun. Pirates has their own brand of humor at this point, and once again, they manage to infuse it well into this movie. I’m not trying to spoil anything, but the guillotine scene had our whole theater laughing out loud. Visually, this movie was just as beautiful as the others, and as with all the Pirate movies, the scoring is fantastic. There was also this sweet and unexpected theme of family that underscored the story, and perhaps most of all, I really appreciated the new character of Carina. She is portrayed the entire time as a bright, strong young woman in a time period where women were not expected to be either. So, I appreciated the basics of her character and the prejudices she is faced with throughout the film.
Overall, yes, I had some issues with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. I felt like the motivations for everyone else outside of Henry Turner seemed a little weak in comparison. It was a little bogged down in the middle, but there were plenty of good moments as well. At the end of the day, it was an entertaining, swashbuckling adventure on the high seas with some of our favorite pirates. It’s definitely a fun, summer movie to see over the holiday weekend.