Saturday 27 May 2017

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

After a five-year hiatus, does the Pirates of the Caribbean series still have wind in the sails? Or is it time for Jack Sparrow to walk the plank? 

Dead Men Tell No Tales is set several years after the last Pirates adventure and sees a young man called Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) searching for Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and the mythical Trident of Poseidon, an item with supposedly possesses magical abilities over the seas.

Also looking for Sparrow is an undead Spanish captain called Salazar (Javier Bardem). Having crossed paths with the pirate many years ago, Salazar is out to enact revenge and claim the Trident for his own nefarious reasons. Naturally, the two parties clash and we have a movie on our hands - but the question remains, is this latest Pirates film actually a good time?

In short, it's a no from me. Dead Men Tell No Tales is a soggy mess that staggers around like its drunken main character, sloshing its words and lurching from scene to scene with little to no purpose or driving force. It's a film that feels almost perfunctory; even though it's the shortest Pirates film, it feels really long and sets to work ticking off boxes right from the get-go. The magical MacGuffin is introduced, the villain tasks someone with delivering an ominous message to Jack Sparrow and said captain is in the midst of a dim-witted adventure of his own (this time its an admittedly amusing spin of Fast Five's iconic bank heist).

Everything else falls into place along the way; new characters are introduced, the ticking clock to find said MacGuffin starts in earnest and our merry band of heroes must quit squabbling just long enough to piece together a map, sail off in search of a mysterious location with the ghostly enemies hot on their heel and avoid capture from the British navy. So far, so Pirates.

Look, as much as it pains me to say this, but Dead Men Tells No Tales really is a colossal waste of time for everyone involved. It's a bleary mess of ideas that feels utterly drained of any urgency or excitement. The character of Jack Sparrow stopped being fresh or interesting a long time ago, and even Depp seems tired of staggering around like a cashed-up bogan who got white girl wasted at the Melbourne Cup. The supporting cast are not much better either, with Geoffrey Rush drawn into the story for the loosest of reasons purely because we need someone to butt heads with Jack over the Pearl.

Where the film does work is in its attempts to reconnect with the original trilogy. Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario (Skins, The Maze Runner), who plays a plucky young woman called Carina Smyth, are interesting enough and their partnership works for the most part. And a couple of cameos do foster an ounce of hope for where the series might go next. But that in itself just feels like an effort to resuscitate a series that washed up on the beach coughing and spluttering somewhere around the mid-point of the convoluted and overlong third entry.

Bardem's villain is visually very interesting, but his performance mostly comprises of hisses and snarls. Salazar chews the scenery so much that Bardem was probably picking pieces of upholstery out of his teeth for weeks after filming wrapped.

That's at least one good thing about Dead Men Tell No Tales; it looks incredible. The visual effects are astounding in a 'tech shop floor' sort of way. Even the third act, which is a mess of convoluted curses and characters, has a lot going on for the eyes to enjoy.

Still, just wish this ship had a bit more booty below deck.

The Verdict: 5/10

Yo ho ho, this is not the pirates life for me. It's been five long years since the last Pirates film (and over a decade since the last good one) and I feel like it's time we laid this series to rest. Jack Sparrow was funny once upon a time, but here the routine feels all too familiar as incoming directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg just churn through the motions.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is in cinemas across Australia now.


  1. Ha! Yes, this is a fantastic review.

    I actually adored the original film (didn't everyone?), but bowed out after the second one (I own the third...but never even put in the PS4 (or the PS3)). I honestly can't believe that Depp still bothers playing Jack, but I guess it really couldn't carry on without him.

    I almost bought a ticket when I saw the runtime (I'm nothing if not curious), but it feels like I certainly dodged a bullet. I did think it looked gorgeous it least it has that going for it.

    1. I can give you a lot of good rea$on$ Depp $till play$ Jack $parrow haha.

      Yeah, if you're not super into the others then I'd recommend skipping over this one haha.



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