Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the fifth in the series that could be aptly renamed “Captain Sparrow acting drunk and doing stupid things.” I greeted this movie with skepticism and wound up a little surprised. It is a borderline decent flick. I enjoyed the first three movies and their plots flowed together well. The second and third featured some dull scenes but overall were fun and engaging. The fourth, POTC: On Stranger Tides, however, failed miserably even with Disney’s usual over the top CGI.
(Spoiler Alert!) 2017’s Dead Men Tell No Tales returns to the original cast with cameos by Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly, last seen as captain of the Flying Dutchman and left on an island, respectively. The movie picks up with their eight-year-old son Henry vowing to break his father’s curse by any means possible. The penchant for lost causes and rescuing fathers apparently runs in the family since these factors were some of the original motivators in the 2003 film.
Nine years later, the plot shows Henry (Brenton Thwaites), now a sailor on a warship, searching the Caribbean for an ancient artifact that breaks all sea curses, Neptune’s Trident. In order to find it, he need’s Sparrows cooperation and a map that “no man can read.”
From this point on, the story becomes a near rehash of the original. A man and woman from widely different backgrounds are thrown together while escaping from the island law. English troop leaders become obsessed with stopping them only to be thwarted by the intervention of evil ghosts. In the 2003 flick, Barbosa’s crew were also the restless dead. In the case of the 2017 Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the evil specters are pirate hunters from a cursed Spanish frigate locked in the Devil’s triangle.
Henry and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) become locked in a codependent relationship as each attempt to solve family problems or discover their heritage. They also bounce between an unwilling Sparrow, a self-serving Barbossa, and the spectral Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem). The movie delves into background stories on all these characters, including how Sparrow got his name and rank.
One downer factor iss character. He crosses from fun in the first movie to amusing and finally to pathetic in this one. A true alcoholic, he trades everything he cares about simply to stay drunk. Although he seems central to the plot, mostly he only provides comic relief that seems too contrived in some scenes.
Overall, the pacing felt erratic, being dull in some places and amusing in others. The comic highlight came when Salazar’s crew released the zombie sharks to chase after a rowboat filled with the main characters. The movie features the usual amazing Disney touch in terms of CGI, making this flick great for the big screen. It wrapped up most of the character stories, giving the viewer warm fuzzies brought on by happily ever after endings. This factor is one of the few things that saves the movie from be dreadful. Sparrow, of course, sails off over the horizon, as he does in most of the Pirate films.
Thus, this chapter in the franchise is a good place to let the curtain fall. Like most series movies that go past the trilogy stage, Pirates of the Caribbean is getting old and bogged down. Time to end the story while the going is good without beating the concept to death. The question is, will the box office profits still be high enough for Disney to continue making these films even when the story is over?