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Movie Review: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales"

Updated on June 1, 2017


Harry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) knows the fate of his father. He knows that his father is cursed to an eternity aboard the Flying Dutchman. Harry also knows that in order to free his father from this curse, he must find a legendary pirate named Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and use his compass to locate Poseidon's Trident which holds the power necessary to end all of the sea's curses. Meanwhile, Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) is a young astronomer who is mistaken as a witch by locals. Carina possess a book handed down to her by the father she never knew. The book holds the key to finding Poseidon's Trident. The only problem is, the book is seemingly impossible to read. So Carina is on a mission to discover the books secrets and learn of the destiny that her father left in her hands. As their journies begin and their stories cross paths Harry Turner and Carina Smyth learn of a cursed Spanish captain (Javier Bardem) and his crew whose sole mission is to get revenge on the pirate known as Jack Sparrow.

Official Trailer

The Pros
The Cons
Nostalgia (+5pts)
Salazar (-6pts)
Barbosa (+4pts)
Poseidon's Trident (-3pts)
Kaya Scodelario (+6pts)
Orlando Bloom & British Navy (-3pts)
All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

Pro - Nostalgia (+5pts)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales makes effective use of nostalgia. It does this mainly through Jack Sparrow, his crew and the Black Pearl. The movie presents these things and shows them working effectively but never spends too much time retelling the backstory surrounding these elements of the story. It presents these things as legendary to audience members that may not have seen the original movies but, for those who watched the previous movies, these elements were fun to watch on the screen in a positively nostalgic way.


Con - Salazar (-6pts)

Salazar (Javier Bardem) was a fairly generic and boring villain. He was essentially a more boring version of Davy Jones. Salazar is the cursed captain of a cursed crew who sail a cursed ship and have Jack Sparrow in their cross hairs. I thought Salazar's whole back story was very poorly written and, as a result, I did not find it compelling or entertaining. I did not understand Salazar's motivations and I never really took him seriously. As a result of the many storylines in this movie, Salazar's story suffered which hurt the movie as a whole. A movie can only be as good as its villain and this movie's generic villain made for a generic feeling movie.


Pro - Barbosa (+4pts)

I honestly did not expect to see much of Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) in this movie. The main antagonist of the first movie turned into a side character and, at times, ally to Jack Sparrow in the later movies. In this movie, Barbosa is somewhat of a reluctant ally to Jack Sparrow but he gets decent character development which, I did not expect, but I ultimately enjoyed watching. While the character is ridiculous and over-the-top, Geoffrey Rush is an extremely talented actor that brought life and depth to this storyline which is why I think it was so entertaining and satisfying to watch. The movie does not spend a ton of time focusing on Barbosa's story but the actor made it memorable nonetheless.


Con - Poseidon's Trident (-3pts)

Poseidon's Trident was the desired artifact in this movie. It is extremely powerful and is hidden somewhere in the ocean. Essentially every character is after the Trident as it holds the power to end all of the sea's curses. What I did not like about this element of the story was the movie does a poor job of explaining the Trident and what it can do. Basically the audience knows it is a thing that everyone wants but plot gives more focus to the chase between the generic Salazar and Sparrow, and little focus to the race for the Trident. The Trident just felt like a plot device to get Jack Sparrow, Henry Turner and Carina Smyth off of land and on the ocean since the curse on Salazar and his crew makes it so that they die as soon as they step foot on land. The Trident is this all powerful artifact that is presented as a minor element of the story even though it should have been the focal point of the plot.


Pro - Kaya Scodelario (+6pts)

Kaya Scodelario, surprisingly, was one of the better parts of the movie. Kaya is the actress who played Carina Smyth and the character was written well, was given an interesting back story and decent character development. The character is strong and intelligent but struggles being feared, being an outcast, as well as not knowing where she comes from, the identity of her father, or what her destiny will be. She even gets somewhat of a plot twist given to her story arc. Carina Smyth probably got better writing than any other character in the movie and the actress playing her, Kaya Scodelario, did a great job of capturing all of that in the role. She is strong and intelligent but has something to prove as she struggles with the insecurity that comes from not knowing who she really is. It's an interesting mix of character traits and Kaya made it all entertaining to watch on screen.


Con - Orlando Bloom & British Navy (-3pts)

Orlando Bloom being in this movie should not come as a spoiler to anyone as he is one of the top billed cast members for this movie. What bothered me about this character was that he should have been in this movie more than he was. When and if you see this movie, you will understand what I mean but Will Turner's son is searching for the means to lift Will's curse. During Henry Turner's journey, he finds himself in some pretty significant danger from Salazar and his cursed ship which left me wondering...if only Henry knew someone on an equally powerful cursed ship that could join the fight and join the hunt for Poseidon's Trident. I mean really. Did the Flying Dutchman have something better to do than to try to find the Trident and potentially end their curse? Then there was the British Naval ship that was hunting Jack Sparrow and his crew. I will not say much about it but they were completely unnecessary and had no real place in this story. So they had a cursed ship that should have been on the hunt but was not, and a random uncursed ship that should not have been on the hunt but was. The whole thing came across as weird to me, but did not severely impact the film.


Grading Scale:


Grade: C+ (78pts)

If I had to rank this movie compared to the previous movies in the franchise I would say that this movie is nowhere near as good as the first film, but it's certainly better than the fourth. I would say it can be most closely compared to the second and third movie. It is an average pirate movie that has an average plot and tries to shower the film with Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow. It definitely brings some nostalgia for those who enjoyed the previous movies but it does not rely on that nostalgia as I think it works just fine to those who have not seen any of the previous movies. One of the film's biggest flaws was the cursed Captain Salazar who ended up being a pretty generic, one-note character. One of the movie's biggest draws was Kaya Scodelario who played Carina Smyth, a young astronomer with something to prove on her journey to find her destiny. Her character was well written, well performed and gave a fresh flavor to this franchise. At the end of the day, I think this movie's Pros barely outweigh its Cons and the result is a pretty average film.

Go ahead and see it if you have seen and enjoyed the previous movies. If you have not seen the previous movies, you won't be missing much if you skip this one.

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