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

Updated on May 29, 2020
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There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Theatrical Release: 5/26/2017
Theatrical Release: 5/26/2017 | Source

Synopsis

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). Once he finds the legendary pirate, Harry needs to use the pirate’s special compass to locate Poseidon's Trident—which has the power 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 legendary Jack Sparrow.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

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.

Source

Pro: Nostalgia (+5pts)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales made effective use of nostalgia. It did this mainly through Jack Sparrow, his crew, and the Black Pearl. The movie presented these things effectively, but never spent too much time retelling the backstories surrounding them, so the nostalgia never felt like it was being force fed to the audience. The filmmakers made a point to show how legendary these things are within the this world—for audience members that may not have seen the original movies—but it was fun to see this movie revisiting things from the first movie.

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Con: Salazar (-6pts)

Salazar (Javier Bardem) was a fairly generic and boring villain, and was essentially a more boring version of Davy Jones. Salazar was the cursed captain of a cursed crew who sail a cursed ship, and have their sights set on Jack Sparrow. I thought Salazar's whole backstory was very poorly written, and I did not find it compelling or entertaining. I did not understand Salazar's motivations and I never really took him seriously. Salazar's story suffered from having so many characters and backstories within this movie, so there was simply not enough screen-time to develop his properly. A movie can only be as good as its villain, and this movie's generic villain made for a generic movie.

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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 this movie, Barbosa is somewhat of a reluctant ally to Jack Sparrow, but he git 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 did not spend a ton of time focusing on Barbosa's, but the actor made him memorable nonetheless.

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Con: Poseidon's Trident (-3pts)

Poseidon's trident was the desired artifact in this movie. It was extremely powerful and was hidden somewhere in the ocean. Essentially every character in this movie was after the trident as it held the power to end all of the sea's curses. What I did not like about this element of the story was that the filmmakers did a poor job of focusing on the trident and the extent of its capabilities. Basically, the audience knew it was a thing that everyone wanted, but the plot of the movie hardly focused on it, and instead treated the trident as an afterthought. It just felt like a plot device to get Jack Sparrow, Henry Turner, and Carina Smyth on the ocean, since the curse on Salazar and his crew made it so that they could not step foot on land. The trident was this all-powerful artifact that was presented as a minor element of the story even though it should have been the main focal point.

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Pro: Kaya Scodelario (+6pts)

Kaya Scodelario—surprisingly—was one of the better parts of the movie. She was the actress who played Carina Smyth. The character was written well, was given an interesting back story, and decent character development. The character was strong and intelligent, but struggled being feared as a witch, being an outcast, as well as not knowing where she came from, the identity of her father, or what her destiny will be. She even got somewhat of a plot twist given toward the end of her story in this movie. 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 was strong willed and intelligent, but had something to prove as she struggled with the insecurity that comes from not knowing who she really is. It was a typical, but still interesting character, and Kaya made her entertaining to watch.

Source

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

Orlando Bloom being in this movie should not come as a spoiler to anyone, as one of the main character’s whole purpose in this movie is finding him. 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 found 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. The filmmakers had a cursed ship (the Flying Dutchman) that should have been on the hunt but was not, and a random non-cursed ship (the British naval ship) that should not have been on the hunt but was. The whole thing came across as weird to me, but ultimately did not impact the film much.

Grading Scale:

Grade
Category
Points
A+
Amazing
95-100
A-
Great
90-94
B+
Good
85-89
B-
Decent
80-84
C+
Average
75-79
C-
Watchable
70-74
D+
Bad
65-69
D-
Terrible
60-64
F
Garbage
0-59
Source

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 was certainly better than the fourth. It can be most closely compared to the second and third movies, and is an average pirate movie that has an average plot. It tried to shower the film with Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow, and it definitely brought some nostalgia for those who enjoyed the previous movies, but it did not rely on that nostalgia, as I think it worked 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 strengths 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, Kaya Scodelario’s performance was pretty good, and her character was a pretty strong addition to the franchise. At the end of the day, I think this movie's strengths barely outweighed its weakness, which resulted in a pretty average film.

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