Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) Director: Joachim Rønning
Unsurprisingly Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a hollow, frivolous, B-movie that was only greenlit in order to squeeze as much money out of this franchise as possible. Throughout the film Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow seems tired, aged, and bored. His Keith Richards-esque schtick has long since worn itself out, hence why he was honored with two Razzies for his uninspiring performance (a far cry from his Oscar nomination for the first film). Despite the introduction of Javier Bardem as a new ghostly character in this fifth installment, Dead Men Tell No Tales should be enthusiastically cast to the flames, or perhaps at least tossed down to Davy Jones’s locker, never to be revisited.
Dead Men Tell No Tales picks up from where the third movie At World’s End left off (skipping over the fourth film entirely). We unfortunately return to the story of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightley). Their young son manages to locate The Flying Dutchman where he informs his father of a way to break the curse of the Dutchman -he must simply find “Poseidon’s Trident” but Will says he cannot search for the Trident for some unknown reason. He has now become a dark and jaded man. Many years later Henry (Brenton Thwaites) is still searching for Jack Sparrow and the Trident in order to free his father. He is now a member of the Royal Navy, and his ship sails into the Devil’s Triangle where they stumble upon a troupe of ghostly cursed men led by Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem). Salazar and his men were once pirate hunters who were lured into the Devil’s Triangle by Jack Sparrow. Salazar decides to solely save Henry to share a message with Jack Sparrow: an ominous warning that dead men tell no tales.
Meanwhile Jack is imprisoned for a frivolous attempt at bank robbery. While in prison, Jack spots his uncle (amusingly played by Paul McCartney). Moments before being executed, Jack and an accused witch named Carina (Kaya Scodelario) are saved because Henry pays Jack’s old crew to rescue him. They go in search of the Trident while Salazer chases Jack (we are given a terrible CGI flashback into Jack’s and Salazar’s past, and also a ridiculous attack scene featuring zombie sharks). At any rate, they all find the island with the Trident which has something to do with a jewel and a blood moon, and then the ocean opens and the crew battles Salazar for the Trident which is apparently easily destroyed. Barbossa risks his life to save the girl because he has just learned she is his daughter. And then for some inexplicable reason when the Trident is destroyed it breaks all curses, thus allowing Will Turner to return to land (we see Elizabeth running in the end to embrace him). There is also a cheap epilogue to the movie in which Will is sleeping in bed and is startled by what appears to be the hand of the squid-headed Davy Jones (even though all curses were just broken…?) but then Will goes back to sleep and we are given a glimpse of barnacles on the floor. Was it really a dream? Do we even care? This trope has been endlessly beaten into the ground by this fruitless series.
Raising no eyebrows, Disney is already preparing for yet another Pirates movie. Sadly we can expect more of the same in the future. The whole Pirates series, aside from the original, is entirely forgettable. At least for now the carnival of cheap thrills is over.