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Dan's Review: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men tell No Tales" tries to recapture magic

May 26, 2017 03:58PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - © Disney.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Disney)

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

Starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Golshifteh Farahani, Stephen Graham, David Wenham, Martin Klebba, Keira Knightley, Angus Barnett, Giles New, Adam Brown, Danny Kirrane, Delroy Atkinson, Paul McCartney.

Written by Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio.

Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg.

GRADE: B-

REVIEW:

Never content to let go of a golden goose, Disney keeps straining every last penny from their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, starring Johnny Depp as the unscrupulous Captain Jack Sparrow. The fifth installment hits theaters this Memorial Day weekend with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

The story involves Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Kiera Knightly) and his quest to release dad from being cursed as a pirate captain of a doomed ghost ship. His mission is to find Poseidon’s trident, a mythical instrument that will break all ocean curses. Another new character named Carina (Kaya Scoledario), an orphan whose mysterious father left her a map – is after the same trident. Their paths cross with Sparrow (Depp), who is down on his luck with his scant crew trying to rob a bank (the actual bank building, not just the money inside). Hot on Jack’s tail is Spanish Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his ghost crew who were cursed by Sparrow’s antics decades earlier. Salazar enlists the help of Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) to track Sparrow, who has joined with Henry and Carina to find the trident before the bad pirates get it.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is an honest attempt to return to the franchise’s roots, when the first film was released in 2003. All the same elements are there: a young man in search of redemption for his father, a young clever woman as a love interest, a scalawag comical pirate, and a large dose of magical pirate lore to create the story’s main conflict. There are moments when some of that 2003 magic is recaptured, but it’s nothing we haven’t already seen in all the other Pirates movies, leaving the humor and story a little stale, like low tide. Depp’s shtick as the loopy Sparrow isn’t anything new, either.

Matching the 2003 formula also doesn’t work when you factor the loose storytelling in Pirates 5: DMTNT. It seems there is too much pirate lore to keep up with, and the sparse dialogue available between all that computer-generated special effects, you can lose track, especially since the story timeline line falls right after the events of Pirates 3: At World’s End, released in 2007. Perhaps the Norwegian Directing team of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg figured that if enough special effects and swashbuckling were thrown in, audiences might not worry too much about the pirate minutiae.

Even with its flaws and overdrawn series history Pirates 5: DMTNT is fun enough to pass as a little holiday weekend escapism. It may not be as good as the original, but just like we keep getting back on the Disneyland ride that inspired the first movie, it’s worth another try…barely.   


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Trailer

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