Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Is No Treasure but It Has Its Moments
3 out of 5 swashbucklers.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales isn’t the best in the franchise, but it’s certainly not the worst (looking at you, At World’s End). The fifth installment had a decent backbone, given that the script from Norwegian filmmakers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg was influenced by Curse of the Black Pearl.
Like its predecessor, the film is a swashbuckling adventure centering on two ridiculously good looking youths navigating the sea while a drunk Jack Sparrow stumbles his way through just about everything. Brenton Thwaites stars as Henry Turner, a young man obsessed with breaking his father’s curse. Kaya Scodelario also stars as Carina Smyth, a brilliant astronomer who spends most of her time dodging fragile masculinity while getting shit done. She’s what I call a modern badass.
I supposed I should also address the giant elephant in the room that is Johnny Depp. He is in the movie. He is considered the star of the movie. And he does exactly what you’d expect him to do in this movie which is deliver a passably entertaining performance as a raging alcoholic whose fame is fading as he can barely get by on the glory of past accomplishments and must once again prove himself.
Ignoring the fact that this sounds like a loose biopic on the actor portraying him, I send my deepest congratulations to the person paid to feed him his lines and to the poor soul charged with waiting outside his house for the lights to turn on so they can gauge when he might arrive on set. You made it happen!
Speaking of hot messes, the film’s greatest weakness is that there are about 20 other side stories happening at once making it longer than it needed to be but it’s okay because the pirates look cool and the music is great.
Javier Bardem commands the screen as Captain Armando Salazar, a cursed pirate hunter seeking revenge on Jack Sparrow. Watching those luxurious locks float around his shoulders, I’m reminded of an episode of America’s Next Top Model in which runway expert Miss Jay explained the importance of creating a wind tunnel effect as you stomp the runway. Bardem clearly took that advice to heart because his hair was windswept in every. single. scene. It was beautiful. Bless.
Captain Hector Barbossa’s perfectly groomed ringlets were also no joke, as was Geoffrey Rush’s standout performance that avoided all the pitfalls that come with reprising a role. He was refreshing and heartbreaking and every bit a scene-stealer, oozing excellence from the top of his gray tendrils to the bottom of his jewel-encrusted peg leg. There’s a moment in which he water farms your tears like a pro with just one gut-wrenching look and suddenly you’re 12 and have a strong urge to call your father.
Some of the film’s best moments, in fact, are the ones that deal with this idea of what it means to be a family. Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner or Smyth’s realization that her allow the movie to be something more than just another tale of cursed pirates.
Overall, Dead Men Tell No Tales is a fun movie that never forgets where it came from. Sure it could have been 30 minutes shorter and the convoluted plot was difficult to digest at times, but this is a movie that revels in its ridiculous nature and delivers some awesome looking sea battles. If you’re looking for a messy yet entertaining adventure, this one definitely fits the bill.
3 out of 5 swashbucklers.
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