Ah, Pirates of the Caribbean. First released in 2003 and based off of the famous Walt Disney attraction, The Curse of the Black Pearl captured the inner swashbuckler of fans everywhere with its colorful characters, thrilling action and romantic intrigue. With 4 installments already in the bag and the 5th one being released this weekend, I was skeptical as to how Dead Men Tell No Tales would fare. While the first two films were met with great success, the second half of installments basically tanked in terms of production value, story development, and operated under shaky footing at best. After viewing the fourth movie, On Stranger Tides I officially declared the franchise dead. Depp is great as Jack Sparrow, no sane person would deny that, but it seemed that carrying the franchise alone was just too much for him. Like a whirlpool that drags all in its wake to Davy Jones locker On Stranger Tides sucked all of the thrill and intrigue out of the series. With a new film coming down the pipe I sat down in my local theater and skeptically dived into the the fifth installment of the swashbuckling saga and by the end was pleasantly surprised despite some obvious and desperate grabs for relevancy.
Let’s break it down…
Dead Men Tell No Tales does its best to revive the old glory of the original Pirates of the Caribbean primarily by recycling old themes and plot devices. The main plot revolves around a young girl on a quest for significance and a young man on a search to save his father surrounded by a backdrop of mysterious waters dominated by undead pirates, gallant and ambitious royal navy men and a deadly curse. If you think that sounded a lot like the first two movies then you’d be right. Normally I hate it when directors and screenwriters do that (see my Alien Covenant review) but for this movie I think it turned out pretty good. You can tell that this is a sort of a “passing the torch” type of movie–almost like a reboot, which is some cases when a film series is going belly up a reboot is just the solution.
In other words I felt kind of like I was watching the first POTC all over again which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This film had everything that made the first one so unique–the rushing and rousing score, the dark and fantastical mystery, and the genuinely funny humor that was a good mix of wit and slapstick. Many of the humorous conventions employed were not only original but also well-timed and quite clever. You’ll have a wonderful time watching the film if not for just the entertainment aspect alone.
The entire original cast is present for this film as well (some are in it much shorter than others) and Javier Bardem makes for a convincing and intriguing villain that, while stock in many respects, still fits into the universe and setting quite well. All the actors are at their peak performance and the new members in the ensemble, while not as endearing and memorable, still manage to compliment the overall vision of the film without upstaging anyone with their newfound bravado.
The main critique I have is the length. Like most Pirates of the Caribbean movies, this one is pretty long, coming in at two hours and 33 minutes. At World End was 2 hrs and 45 minutes.
HAVE THESE PEOPLE EVER HEARD OF DELETED SCENES?
Needless to say I feel pretty passionate about this. POTC are notorious for packing loads and loads of content into their films to the point where the boat begins to sink at times and so does the energy that they do so well to stir up. I think they could have easily trimmed up 30-45 minutes of that film and it still would have been effective. But such is the nature with all the pirate movies that they really enjoy listening to themselves talk…and act, and fight, and pontificate, and drone on and on about lore that can be fun to listen to but really has nothing relevant to do with the film at large. Other times the film went a little too over the top–the suspension of disbelief can only be suspended so far–and sometimes the convenient happenstances and occurrences became almost insulting. But overall the film was very enjoyable and while it seemed very reminiscent of the first Pirates I didn’t really mind because I had gotten so used to the Pirate movies sucking that this one really felt like a breath of fresh air.
In summary I think that you will enjoy Dead Men Tell No Tales. Will it feel familiar almost to the point of duplication? Possibly. But like I said, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. So kick back, relax, have a few good laughs and enjoy the briny waves as Pirates of the Caribbean takes another bow!
(P.S. Don’t forget to stay to the end of the credits of a special scene you won’t want to miss)
Daily Diatribe Rating: 7.8/10