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Film Review: Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Men Tell No Tales (Spoiler-Free)

Pirates 5-05

This is a spoiler-free review.

It’s been approximately 6 years since beloved pirate Jack Sparrow made his way to the big screen. This film franchise is one of Walt Disney Studios’ most coveted film franchises. According to Box Office Mojo, all of the first four films have been successes with two surpassing the billion dollar-earning threshold. There’s no doubt that this fifth installment will add more treasure-filled bucks to the House of Mickey. Though, the real question for those who love the franchise would be – does Dead Men Tell No Tales have enough freshness to withstand the scurvy fatigue of ocean salinity? Read on and find out.

Writing & Pacing
After four films, writers Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio have made a little tweak to the tradition of using ocean mythology to drive the story. Instead of spending time on the one developed Sparrow character and pushing yet another “seek the treasure” adventure, the writers have actually looked at other characters from the franchise and dug into their past as well for some possible development. The result is a film that utilizes past stories for inside jokes and fan service moments. There’s even a writing twist that gives the film some heart where you least expect it. In retrospect, the pacing and development of the story was solid enough where the delivered plot twist was pleasantly unexpected. My “predicting plots” radar was thrown off and I couldn’t be more happier.


There’s a reason Johnny Depp was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Sparrow and it’s because he’s a joy to watch on screen. Depp has managed to put both youth and aging characteristics to the rum-drinking “scallywag”. Geoffrey Rush (Hector Barbossa) and Kevin McNally (Joshamee Gibbs) join Depp as being the only cast members to be in every film in the franchise. Both have shown evolution in their characters in this film and it does a nice segue from the last film rather than re-booting their personalities. Rush’s performance bests Depp’s in this film, which is a great feat and wonderful surprise for the film. Newcomers Brenton Thwaites (Henry Turner) and Kaya Scodelario (Carina Smith) are fresh additions to the franchise that introduce some youthfulness to our aging regulars. Javier Bardem as our primary villain is always a great choice to scare all of the movie-goers. His portrayal of pirate-killer Armando Salazar is sinister and rivals past portrayals of villains in the series by Ian McShane (Blackbeard) and Bill Nighy (Davy Jones). Overall, the cast of actors didn’t overdo any of their roles and played them with no distractions. This is especially important in Pirates since antagonists and protagonists do a lot of flip-flopping.


You can tell that the filmmakers and producer Jerry Bruckheimer doesn’t plan on recreating action pieces that have already been done in the franchise. While directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg do a much better job than Pirates 4 director Rob Marshall, Gore Verbinski’s action pieces in the series have yet to be topped from the first three films. The execution (guillotine and hanging) scene is probably my favorite action piece from the entire series, which says a lot for the Pirates franchise. Overall, Pirates 5’s action was fun to watch, especially with the heavy special effects pieces that Disney has invested a lot of time and money developing. There are some nods to the original walking dead pirates from Curse of the Black Pearl, but Salazar’s men move a lot differently and more aggressively in this film. Of course being a big budget Disney film, the special effects work was top notch.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, much like its predecessors, is a great time at the movies with friends and family. It does more to develop its existing characters while introducing fresh and distinct new faces. The writing twist at the end did well to give the film lots of unexpected emotion.

Final Grade: A-
Source(s): Box Office Mojo

Pete Taase once was a Sith Lord, but was brought back from the depths of dark side by his younglings and old VHS cassettes that require the tracking button to make the screen clearer to view.

Twitter: @PeteTaase
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