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Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mean Tell No Tales

See what Sherri and Harry have to say on Disney’s latest installment!

Sherri Says

During the summer, the day will come where being in an air-conditioned movie theater with overpriced snacks is preferable to sitting in the house. This day requires a ‘summer movie’ a film full of action, chase scenes, explosions with trips of fancy and general mayhem. Should this day arrive before the end of June, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mean Tell No Tales is the movie you should be watching.

The fifth installment in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) series is an attempt to clear us some cliffhangers from previous movies. The movie opens with Jack Sparrow up to his old tricks living the drunk pirate life. He is contacted by Henry Turner, son of Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner, and Carina Smyth – an astrologist – to find Poseidon’s Trident. It is believed that the Trident has the power to cure all curses on the high seas. Of course, no POTC movie is complete without an enemy chasing Jack Sparrow. Enter Captain Salazar, an undead navy captain avenging his own death at the hands of Jack Sparrow. The film also reunites Captain Sparrow with Captain Barbossa on the quest for the Trident. I don’t want to say much more in fear of spoiling the ending of the film.

Full disclosure: I am reviewing this movie with what I call a “summer movie curve”. The curve required me to take off my logical mind, sit back, watch and enjoy. I did not allow my need for plot, character development, and dialogue ruin the experience. I went to see a film full of CGI, explosions and chase scenes.  Back to the review.

Johnny Depp reprises his role as Jack Sparrow, and Jack is always fun to see. He usually has some great one liners and Johnny plays drunk being chased better than anyone. However, over the past couple of POTC films, the directors have not allowed Depp to be as flamboyant and over the top as he was in the first POTC. He’s good in the role, I just know he could be great.  Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa is still the perfect frenemy, walking the line of working with Sparrow enough to achieve their goal, but willing to double cross him to save his own hide.

Henry Turner’s (played by Brenton Thwaites) backstory is clear as the film opens, but there is no growth in his story which makes his acting shallow. He was underused with this script.  Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) plays a major part in the quest, but is only there to flirt with Henry Turner.  Therefore, the love story falls flat and the chemistry between the two seemed forced. Oh wait, let me stop with this…I’m letting the story and acting ruin the enjoyment of the movie.

What I did love is that the computer-generated imagery (CGI) in this movie is astonishing.  I believe there will be an Oscar nomination for the CGI team. The attention to detail shines in the depiction of Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar. Look at how unattractive that they made Bardem.



Whenever Captain Salazar appears on screen, his hair flows like he is still drowning, and he appears to be gigantic compared to whoever he is standing around. Bardem’s acting was just as over the top as it needed to be for this role. Also how Salazar’s ghost ship enters the scenes is just incredible.

A major down-side to this movie, is that it is about 15 minutes too long. There were minutes here and there that probably should have been left on the cutting room floor. It seems they were stretching scenes for the sake of stretching the movie to 129 minutes.

Some reports say this is the final film in the franchise, while some say this maybe the beginning of a new POTC without Jack Sparrow. At this point, I am satisfied that the complete story has been told. Yes, there are more pirates and legends around which more movies could be written, but the B and C stories would cover the same ground. Disney you can leave this franchise alone.

4 Pirate Flags out of 5

Harry Says

My take on the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie is mostly in line with Sherri’s, so I won’t belabor too many of her points.

Yes, if you are a PotC fan this movie will click off a lot of familiar buttons and plot points but for me, this was the anchor around this movie’s neck. While I won’t begrudge the movie’s pace starting from the bank heist (ala Fast and Furious), there were entirely too many times where nearly everything you will see seems like it was done in previous movies. Children somehow romantically linked to a pirate? Check. Ghost pirates taking their revenge on Jack Sparrow? Check. Ghost ships that seemingly can’t be destroyed? Check. There are so many more points I could mention, but no sense in spoiling this movie. I mean, it would make no sense to talk about another botched execution plays yet another role in this movie’ right? However, what is also a bit maddening, is that there are times when this movie could actually use a phrase or a quip to actually link the previous movies and whiffs with the expectation that audiences will pick up on certain cues. I felt like this movie could have used more of those moments as opposed to recycling much of what we have seen.

On the other hand, PotC did manage to string together a few good origins for not only characters, but also objects that we have seen through the series. These objects have always been present and it was nice to see some thought put behind how these objects have been connected with the characters.

As far as the performances: again, my assessment is in agreement with Sherri’s. However (and I don’t know why), I was expecting some kind of growth from Depp’s Jack Sparrow. As Sherri already mentioned, it seems like there can be so much more from this character, but the writers won’t let him grow.

This latest installment isn’t the best in the series, and in many ways it doesn’t cover new ground in the formula it uses to tell the story. If you want to disconnect for about 2 hours, this is a great way to do it; but those looking for a good story would be better off looking to see what’s on the horizon.

3 Bottles of rum out of 5

About SimplySherri1 (25 Articles)
Spoken Word Artist, historian, entertainment lover, writer.
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