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Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
05.25.2017
5 10
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PLOT: Young Henry Turner’s (Brenton Thwaites) quest to save his cursed father, Will (Orlando Bloom), by finding the mythical trident of Poseidon, brings him face-to-face with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who’s being pursued by the vengeful Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his undead crew. Along the way, they encounter a head-strong astronomer (Kaya Scodelario) and Jack’s old friend-enemy, the now wealthy Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

REVIEW: Captain Jack’s back, but five movies-in, is anyone still psyched for drunken pirate shenanigans? Given that the last one, ON STRANGER TIDES, still managed to make a billion dollars worldwide despite savage reviews and lukewarm audience reception, Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer took the gamble, and indeed, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is better than the last, while still suffering from the flaws that have dogged the series ever since it was decided to branch the original sleeper off into a franchise.

For my money, there’s only ever been one really good PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, and that’s the original CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL. The first two sequels were equal parts inspiration and tedium (I think put together they would have made for one really good follow-up), but the fourth suffered from focusing too much on Johnny Depp as Captain Jack, giving him a solo adventure. The originals were always as much about Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) as they were about Jack, and their absence was keenly felt.

Sadly, they’re not back in any substantial way here, with Bloom’s appearance amounting to little more than a cameo, although his curse is a big part of the story. Rather, Will and Elizabeth get themselves a pair of doppelgangers in the form of Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario. While Thwaites doesn’t fare much better than Sam Claflin did in ON STRANGER TIDES, Scodelario is dynamic from start to finish. Her part is nothing new, but she plays it very well, holding her own with the constant Johnny Depp mugging, and once she’s paired with Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa, the movie finally finds its footing. To bad this doesn’t happen until the last act.

Up to then, DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is proficient, if unexceptional. New directors Joachin Ronning and Espen Sanberg (KON-TIKI) keep things moving fast, bringing it in at a relatively lean 129 minutes (short for the series), but there’s not much too it other than a series of giant action set-pieces, most of which make no sense. The movie starts with a big chase where Jack’s crew drags a vault through town, which is basically a FAST FIVE rip-off if you replace cars with horseback, only for their pursuers to abruptly disappear, no explanation given. The material is so thin that in order to pad the running time, the movie flashes back to Jack’s first encounter with Salazar for a good chunk of time while the story goes on hold.

Bardem basically recreates his part as SKYFALL’s Silva, only this time as a kind of sea zombie, having limited screen-time, and emerging as the series' dullest villain. I guess Depp’s supposed to be the show here, but his performance is the most listless he’s given in the part to date. There’s something sad about watching this former great mug and do the same thing he’s done over and over, but hey, that’s what the people want, right? Sparrow is Sparrow here, with no character development at all, save for the fact that he now has an uncle, affording another rock icon the chance to make a cameo (I won’t spoil it here). Somehow Keith Richards was able to avoid being roped-back in as Jack’s dad this time.

I’ll give DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES this - if you love the series, you’ll probably like this one. I’ll even go so far as to say that even if you hated the last one, you’ll still likely enjoy it. But, for anyone out there like me, who thinks things are getting stretched a little thin, this isn’t going to change your mind. It has it’s moments, mostly thanks to Scodelario, Rush and the familiar but good score by Geoff Zanelli (Hans Zimmer bailed, but they still use his themes), but this swashbuckler is strictly for die hard fans.

Source: JoBlo.com

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