Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is an enjoyable, if slight, addition to the ongoing franchise that Johnny Depp brought to life nearly fifteen years ago. The fifth installment lacks certain elements that made the original trilogy successful, mainly Gore Verbinski’s knack for insane action and the emotional weight of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, but there’s still a witty charm and sharp comedic charm. There’s numerous problems for sure: the plot is inane and confusing, and certain jokes fall flat, but for all intensive purposes, it’s an enjoyable two and a half hour action romp.
When the wicked Captain Salazaar (Javier Bardem) seeks revenge upon Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Sparrow find himself on the run once again from the forces of evil. When a young deserter (Brenton Thwaites) and an aspiring scientist (Kaya Scodelario) convince Sparrow to search for the mythic Trident of Poseidon, a mysterious artifact that can break any curse, the pirate captain is brought back to the seas of adventure.
Yes, the plot is completely ridiculous, and by the time the final act comes along, it’s hard to determine who’s siding with who and where everyone’s intentions lie. Yet, while it’s certainly flawed, the film has a relentless sense of energy, and while some jokes miss, man hit as well. The film cleverly intertwines some of the mythology of the original films, and even when the plot is up in the air, the strong characters and personality carry the film.
Depp is definitely reverting to the stereotypes of the characters, and though his humor feel’s forced at points, the character remains irreverent and entertaining in his mischievous nature. While Thwaites is a serviceable, if slightly bland, supporting character, the film’s standout is Kaya Scodelario, who’s witty, clever character feels the perfect successor to Keira Knightley. As for Bardem, he’s a campy, over the top villain that feels at home in this wild, crazy movie.
While the Pirates of the Caribbean films have slowly become weaker in quality, they lack the cynical quality of blockbusters like the Transformers films or the endless string of remakes. Dead Men Tell No Tales is an entertaining film, with some great humor and some fantastic visuals, and at over 150 minutes it drags rarely. Is it a brilliant film? Of course not, but as a summer blockbuster, it delivers. Grade: B-