Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)


Summary: Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon.
Cast and Characters. As always in these movies, there are a LOT of characters BUT some of them are just there to be some type of opposition, or they may serve some purpose but they aren’t that important for me to talk about.
  • Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. I’m going to say this now, I think Jack Sparrow is better as a supporting character, or at least NOT the main character, this is why Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End, and On Stranger Tides didn’t work as much. So I think this is a return to form of his character in Curse of the Black Pearl, where he may be part of the plot, may help it go forward but he just crashes into things every now and then. I think that works best for him. Jack in this film seems to be lesser, he’s lost his way, he’s not as awesome as he was before, he can’t even plan a bank robbery correctly however, he’s being pursued due to his past and at first he doesn’t seem to be much bothered by it, he doesn’t seem to scheme as much as he has in the past, but instead stuff just happens, showing that he’s lost it a lot. I think Jack Sparrow is one of Johnny Depp’s most iconic roles (I’m partial to Edward Scissorhands) and I think after the first film, he became a caricature of a great and fresh character. He’s much more subdued here, he’s not as “over the top” in some of his expressions or mannerisms, he’s dialed it back a lot, and I think it works here for the most part.  I love Johnny Depp and I really want him to get some wins.
  • Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar. He is a maniacal undead pirate hunter of the Spanish Navy. He was trying to rid the seas of all pirates, he’s tricked into sailing his ship into the Devil’s Triangle causing him and his crew to be cursed. He seeks the Trident of Poseidon to extinguish piracy and get revenge on Jack. He’s a very interesting character, as he starts off as a powerful man and “falls from grace”. He spends the movie wanting his revenge on Jack but he will cut down anyone in his way, he takes no prisoners and everyone is terrified of him. Javier Bardem is a great actor and he’s so terrifying, he’s the best performance in the film, the way he walked for the character, how he utiltized his appearence, and his surroundings. I think he was one of the scariest villains in the POTC universe next to Barbossa in the first film.
  • Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner. He is the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. The film opens up with a 7-10 year old Henry trying to find his father who is still the “Davy Jones” of the sea after At World’s End. He is desperate to reconnect with his father, to find him and free him of his curse. Throughout the film, he kind of fills Will’s role in being the young guy, but his motives are more emotional as it’s his father, a man he probably doesn’t know as much due to the rule “only can come on land once every 10 years”. He ends up meeting Salazar in the beginning, and delivers a message to Jack but he wants Jack to help him instead. I liked him, I thought he was a sweet kid, headstrong, brave and impulsive however I do think there were times where he was taken over by some of the other characters but I think that has to do with Brenton not really being as charismatic as the others. Even though Orlando Bloom isn’t the best actor around, he’s charismatic and kind of magnetic in a way where your eye is drawn to him. Brenton didn’t have that as much but I did like that his arc was provided and solved in the film, at least for this movie’s purpose.
    • Lewis McGowan was young Henry and I thought he was very good. It was easy to tell that he missed his father and that he was a pretty good balance between both Will and Elizabeth in being headstrong.
  • Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth. An astronomer, she’s feisty, headstrong and very smart. She kind of reminded me of Hermione Granger in that she is led by her logic, and her will to learn even though she’s very brave as well. Of course, women weren’t allowed to study in universities so people call her “witch”. But she’s also looking for the Trident and has her diary of clues that she holds on too, as it holds the secrets AND it was from her unknown father. She’s very different from Elizabeth, she’s less annoying for one thing, she feels modern and definitely not a Mary Sue. She definitely has a hard time believing in anything that can’t be proven by science and maybe a bit bullheaded. I’ve never Kaya Scodelario in anything but I  think she’s very charismatic and she does steal my eye away from others sometimes.
  • Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa. The former captain of the Black Pearl and Jack’s rival, though they can be friendly sometimes. He still has his one leg but he has become extremely wealthy. He’s has a fleet of ships, loads of treasure and he’s like a poser, he has fancy clothes, a fancy wig and jewels in his peg-leg. Barbossa is still the same man to be honest, he’s polite but he will try to save his own skin and maybe the lives of his crew so he has to do what he has to do. Geoffrey Rush is still good in this role, he’s not as scary as he was the first time, but a bit more tragic. We learn some things about his history that once they lead up to it, it wasn’t that big of a surprise honestly.
Supporting Roles.
  • Orlando Bloom as Captain William “Will” Turner.” We know the story of Will, he was a blacksmith turned pirate who ends up transformed into the Captain of the Flying Dutchman in the third film. I love Will and I think this was some his best stuff, it was sad and tragic. He’s cursed to this life and while I’m sure he’s happy because he’s not dead, but it’s easy to tell that he hates it. He wants to be with his family as he doesn’t see them often and he fought for Elizabeth for so long. I actually want to know WHY his face looked all gross and why the ship looked all like it did when Davy Jones was Captain because when he started off as Captain, everything was fine. So something must happened in the last 19 or so years that caused this. I think Orlando Bloom did really well in his two scenes he has, he’s not a leading role but more of a “cameo” but he looks so sad that I needed to know what happened to him.
  • Other Pirates. Of course Gibbs is back with Kevin McNally in the role, this is the first time we really see him give up on Jack, which was interesting, there are few more returning faces, like the two soldiers turned pirates who seemed to take the place of Pintel and Ragetti from the others. A lot of them are funny and seeing their shenanigans are great.
  • Paul McCartney as Uncle Jack. He has a nice little cameo, he was actually pretty good and the joke he tells was pretty funny, but it was more funny because of the reaction.
The Opening Scene. The film opens with young Henry who gets out onto the ocean, he makes himself sink and he lands on the Dutchman underwater. Will pulls him back to the top on the ship and they share an emotional moment. I quite liked it. I thought it put into place what to expect for Henry’s character and setting up his motivations in the film so it’s never rocky. It gave me hope for the rest of the movie… but honestly this was probably the best scene in the movie.
The Music. Geoff Zanelli does the music here and it has some hints of Hans Zimmer’s score (which makes sense as Zanelli was a student of Zimmer) as well as the iconic Pirates theme that makes me smile whenever I hear it. In some of the quieter moments it’s nice to hear the soft music playing in the background. Sometimes it sounds eerie and scary and other times when its put on next to fighting scenes it gets me pumped.
The Special Effects. There are a couple of things I’m going to talk about, but this movie has so many great effects that if you saw it in IMAX 3D, I’m sure it would be great to see in the theaters that way.
  • Salazar, his crew’s look and his ship. So Salazar and his crew are cursed, like with fire. Some of the crew are completely burned away but are only a hand, some have their heads half gone. Salazar himself of course looks the most normal, but parts of his face is like ashes and his hair moves like it’s underwater the entire time. He also has this ooze running out of his mouth the entire time. His ship is also cool as it lifts itself up like a caterpillar.
  • The Running on the Water. Seeing Salazar’s crew running on the water from underwater was so cool. It reminded me of watching Barbossa’s crew walk underwater in the first film.
  • The Sharks/Birds. I’m not sure why there are always birds around the ship, but the birds are also cursed and they are burned ashes as well.
  • Trident’s Island. When we finally get to the island where the Trident is hidden, it’s so beautiful, all the colors.
  • The Divide/Poseidon’s Tomb. We see a shot in the trailer of the Black Pearl sailing on the edge of a crevice, it’s The Divide and it’s really cool how it looks. The entire tomb has a really interesting look, my only problem is that it takes so long to get there and then we don’t spend enough time there.
The Dialogue/Moments. Not all of it’s funny, but there are some good dialogue bits in there. Jack has some good lines. Some of it’s very witty and while I didn’t think the movie itself wasn’t that funny, a lot of the dialogue was. There were also a few moments that were funny, the movie itself isn’t but there are some great moments, like the guillotine scene.
The Flashback Scene. So of course we get a bit of exposition from Salazar as to why he’s hunting Jack, but we get a flashback to accompany his tale. This is where we see a de-aged Johnny Depp as young Jack Sparrow and I think this was some of the better de-aging lately. There were a few times where it was creepy, mostly when he was talking a lot, but other times it was like looking at Johnny Depp from his 21 Jump Street days. It showed how he became Captain Jack Sparrow while also explaining Salazar’s unfortunate fate. It also has a few throwbacks to the first film in how Jack was a bit more feisty and less of a coward, how he was brash and energetic AND it throws back to when Elizabeth suggests they throw the anchor on the starboard side when they were running from Barbossa. It was pretty cool.
The “romance”. So to be honest, I didn’t really have a problem with it but I can imagine people having some issues with it, but I don’t think it’s warranted. When Henry and Carina first meet, they don’t really get along, we actually see them interact a lot and them get to know each other and learning that they have a lot in common BUT once you see that they were getting interested in each other, it was like ehhh, you need a bit more tim. I didn’t dislike it but I think they needed another movie at least. I didn’t want to make it a con because I don’t think it is but I recognize that it probably wasn’t earned in this film. I liked their interactions but I don’t know if the actors had much chemistry like Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley did.
The Action. There always has to be action, always has to be fights and there are some, and the ones we have are great and fun. They’re not as big and grand as the previous films have been which is fine, but we do get to see a bit more of what’s going on and they’re not overly long and drawn out.
Ending Scene. So after the adventure is over, Henry’s arc/goal is addressed and without spoiling it, it’s a very beautiful scene that made me smile like an idiot.
End Credit Scene. There is an end credit scene at the very end, maybe there will be another one which if it goes the way I’m thinking, maybe there’s hope?
The Bank Robbery Scene. So there is this scene in the beginning once we get to the present. We see a man introducing their new bank and how no one can break into their vault, etc. etc. but Jack and his crew were trying to steal it and it’s really just ridiculous. I know POTC has their over the top moments but I thought that was just silly, I get why it was there because it shows that Jack has lost his “mojo” but the entire time I was like ‘ugh really?’.
The British Navy. Of course the soldiers have to have a role as they constantly pursue pirates and make things hard for everyone. We don’t really spend any time with them like we have with Norrington or Beckett. There’s one guy who is played by David Wenham but he’s really just there as a nuisance and to give Carina, Jack and Henry trouble while in town. It’s annoying actually.
Some stupid details. There are some things that happen that are really stupid. I don’t want to spoil them but there are so many things that I questioned like “why would they do that?” or the idea of everyone always double crossing someone, it’s so tired that I expect it. Also everyone always wants the same thing so they eventually all have to meet each other at some point and fight or something. Also, why does Jack have a thing for Elizabeth? I didn’t like that in the other films (love triangles) and I didn’t want him referencing it in this one because it’s dumb. I also hate that stupid X scar on Jack’s face and that stupid sore… I know why the sore was included but I hate it.
The Humor. I don’t think it’s very funny in terms of the shenanigans. Some of the dialogue is good but I don’t think it’s funny, at least not to me. The father and daughter in my row cracked up a lot but ya know humor is subjective.
Lacking Climax. So the climax comes up and it was a bit boring. A lot of this film reminded me of the first POTC film but the climax made me think of the boring climax of On Stranger Tides and it wasn’t interesting and it also felt rushed.
Too Long/Feels Long. In actuality, this is the shortest of the four films but it feels really long because there isn’t a lot going on there. There are some moments where there are slow moments and it’s dragging. Either they should have filled those moments with something, or cut them out to make it a bit shorter.
Overall, I enjoyed myself in this film. I think it’s better than On Stranger Tides and it harkens back to what made the original trilogy so fun. Trust me, I recognize that Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End are not very good BUT this film tries to go back to what made people love these movies in the first place. Jack Sparrow is much more subdued here, he’s not the lead which I think works well for his character and I think Johnny Depp always does well with this character when he’s not being over the top. Javier Bardem was a great addition, he was eerie and scary and his story was interesting. The additions of Henry and Carina were good additions to the world and it would be interesting to see them in later films, but they definitely need to spend more time together. The effects are great, the music adds layers to the film and there are certain scenes and moments that I really liked. On the other hand, I do think it feels a bit too long, it’s trying to be epic but it doesn’t quite get there, the climax is pretty lame and while the action scenes are fun, there aren’t many of them. The film spends a lot of time on information. There are some stupid details that made it into the script that made me go ‘why did that happen? that’s dumb’. BUT while it won’t be the best film of the summer, it’s still a fun and entertaining ride.
Rating: 2.89 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales? What do you think?
What is your favorite Pirates of the Caribbean movie? Mine is Curse of the Black Pearl.
Let me know in the comment below! Don’t forget to like, comment and follow this blog!

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