Courtsey of Disney
Back in 2003, when it was announced that Disney had plans to turn an amusement park ride into a new action franchise, many shook their heads. I mean, how on Earth would you expect a ride to translate into a feature length film? Well, lo and behold, the mouse house pulled off the impossible, they delivered one of the last true Summer blockbusters. “Pirates of The Caribbean” is one of my favorite series, because they are just a good time, no matter how long they tend to run. It always seemed that director Gore Verbinski knew what his audiences wanted and delivered not once, but three times. The original trilogy was the best the series offered, and I even liked the less favorable “On Stranger Tides” directed by Rob Marshall six years ago - (I personally thought it stood well on it’s own, despite heavy backlash from the fan community).
And while it stands to reason whether or not we needed another Pirates adventure (as franchise fatigue sets in). I give you “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the latest seaworthy trek that once again finds us meeting up with the great Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in another race against time. Only now he is going face to face with the dastardly Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) a Spanish fleet captain that saw his reign end decades ago at the hands of a young Sparrow and now has a thirst for his flesh. Salazar oozes with black tar that drips from his mouth and speaks with a heavy induced accent that slithers off the tongue, making him one of the more intriguing villains to glance at, if not the least bit interesting.
Most of the cast returns for this supposedly “final adventure” - (that’s what the trailers say anyway, but a post-credit scene would indicate otherwise) - yes, even the barnacle faced Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and his wife Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) are back in the lineup. But, you should know, they are hardly in the film as their roles are like glorified cameos. However, their son Henry (Brenton Thwaites - in a much more sizable role) is determined to free his father from the clutches of the Dutchman curse he was plagued with so long ago. The answers to that lie in King Poseidon's trident which, legend tells, whomever finds it has unmitigated access to the sea, and has the ability to lift away any curse. Naturally, this does catch the attention of Captain Barbossa, (Geoffrey Rush) who is now the primo captain of the dark waters.
That still leaves room for Jack, who manages to get himself into sticky situations and then squeezing out of them. “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is a satisfying entry, sure, but this outing feels more like a highlight reel of the best moments from the series, rather than its own swashbuckling escapade. Depp’s most iconic role is, no question, Jack Sparrow - but in certain scenes, it’s ironically, the weighted drunkenness of his character that starts getting the better of him. Instead of Depp playing the character, the character is playing him. An unusual observation considering he owned the role for so long, despite his recent drop as a box office draw.
And Bardem, who is one of the most gifted actors working today, is hardly given anything to do outside of smirking sarcastically, and chasing after Sparrow so feverishly. Unlike past alums like Davy Jones, the new Salazar merely serves as a driving force behind the plot, with no significant means outside of that. The directing duo of Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg are clearly passionate fan boys with many winking nods and references to the past movies in the franchise, and it’s not their fault the movie feels less than excitable, because, after five movies, I think it would be hard for any director to step in to revive a franchise that, probably, should have ended after three movies.
Alas, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” still has all the best elements that manage to keep a smile on your face. Like the titillating score that rushes when a big fight sequence is happening, top notch digital CGI effects, and the unintentional comic relief of Mr. Sparrow. “No Tales” also benefits from a rewarding conclusion that wraps up the series nicely, that it makes you angry just thinking about another entry. But if the money is good, Disney will keep on making them, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that it would be in the best interest of the pirate community, to just let this series sail off into the sunset. B-