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Pirates of the Caribbean

Dead Men Tell No Tales

(Walt Disney Studios)


Captain Jack Sparrow must find the Trident of Poseidon or face the vengeful wrath of undead pirate hunter, Captain Salazar..


Rated PG-13 for sequences of adventure violence, and some suggestive content.

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Viewer Appeal: Ages 12 and up.


Let’s start with the good stuff:


The special effects created for Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales are absolutely stunning. In the mythology of this movie Captain Salazar (played with vicious intensity by Javier Bardem) is a murderous ghost of a pirate-hunter drowned at sea. Wronged by Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) he’s on a supernatural quest for revenge. Sparrow’s only hope is to find the lost Trident of Poseidon and use its power to defeat Salazar and his undead navy.  


The visual effects of Salazar’s partially decomposed face framed by long hair constantly being swirled by the invisible waters of his death are, at time, mesmerizing. Battles and explosions and supernatural occurrences (including scenes of biblical proportions where ghosts walk on water and the sea divides to let our characters walk on dry land) only add to the jaw-dropping aspects of visual artistry demonstrated in this film. If these folks don’t win a visual effects Oscar, then the gig is rigged.




Not much else in Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales lives up to the power and payoff that the special effects deliver. Johnny Depp, reprising his role as Captain Jack Sparrow for the fifth time, appears to be sleepwalking through a series humiliating pratfalls instead of actually acting. Geoffrey Rush, returning as Sparrow’s nemesis Captain Barbossa, is forced to turn his formerly diabolical genius into an alternately pompous then groveling shell of the character that once terrified us on the big screen. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann Turner (Keira Knightly) are reduced to syrupy cameos that are mostly meaningless. Will at least gets to speak, but pity poor Elizabeth who barely makes an appearance at the end and says not a single word in the entire film. And for some nonsensical reason Paul McCartney shows up as “Uncle Jack.” In this surreal scene, a bloodthirsty executioner steps insipidly aside so the former Beatles frontman can waste a few moments trading irrational, irrelevant banter with Jack Sparrow who is on his way to the gallows.


Still, flat characterizations aside, the real problem with Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales is simply the story itself. Apparently Terry Rossio really liked his work in the previous four Pirates movies, because it appears that he and co-writer Jeff Nathanson simply copied and pasted their favorite plot elements from early films, renamed them (“instead of Barbossa, let’s call him Salazar” “instead of Davy Jones’ undead pirate crew, let’s make them Salazar’s undead pirate-hunting crew” “instead of an orphaned Will Turner, let’s have an orphaned Carina Smyth” “instead of…” well, you get the idea.) After the awe-inspiring glory and breathtaking creativity of Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl, this latest installment just disappoints.


All that said, this is not exactly a bad movie…it’s just not very good either. Except those amazing special effects. Wow.


Here’s my suggestion: For Pirates of the Caribbean 6—which has been announced as in pre-production—just give the script duties to those visual effects gurus and let them come up with something new. Maybe it’s time for Terry Rossio to take a break from this series.


Bonus features on the Blu-ray include:

• Dead Men Tell More Tales: The Making of a New Adventure – Get unique access into the making of this exciting new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie with this collection of revealing and entertaining stories that you can view individually or as a “play all.”

• A Return to the Sea – Two talented filmmakers, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, team up to bring “Pirates of the Caribbean” back to the screen. Hear how this new chapter of the tale was developed.

• Telling Tales: A Sit-down with Brenton & Kaya – Meet Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario, the young actors behind Henry and Carina. The two sit down together for a revealing conversation on becoming a part of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise and its continuing legacy.

• The Matador & The Bull: Secrets of Salazar & The Silent Mary – Oscar-winner Javier Bardem reveals more about his menacing new character and the foreboding ship he helms.

• First Mate Confidential – Go on-set along with Kevin McNally, the affable actor behind the feisty Mr. Gibbs, Captain Jack’s reliable first mate from all five movies.

• Deconstructing the Ghost Sharks – Peer below the depths at how these ferocious, mythical monsters were designed and brought to life.   

• Wings Over the Caribbean – Captain Jack has a memorable encounter with Sir Paul McCartney – rock 'n' roll royalty.

• An Enduring Legacy – Take one more look at the “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” experience and the impact of “Pirates of the Caribbean” -- the movies, the ride and beyond.

• Bloopers of the Caribbean

• Jerry Bruckheimer Photo Diary

• Deleted Scenes

• Highwayman

• Henry Turner Learns a Lesson from Captain Jack

• A Whale in Poseidon’s Tomb

• Alternate Coda: Murtogg & Mullroy “Flogging”


Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:


• What’s your impression of this latest installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean film legacy?

• This reviewer didn’t seem to enjoy Dead Men Tell No Tales. If you were his editor, how would you change his review?

• What do you think was the main theme of Dead Men Tell No Tales? How do you see that theme playing out in your real life?



All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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