Out of the five instalments of Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is going to be my first review of a film from the series, on my blog. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, now five films deep into what can only be described as a flood of diminishing returns, is a lot like breakfast cereal. Though the box looks shiny and inviting, it is cereal after all.
The Pirates series, though one of Disney’s most bankable theme-park attraction, is drowning in the sea created by themselves. Looking back, what was amusing, clever and innovative in 2003’s original, “The Curse of the Black Pearl”—I always liked those pirates who were exposed as skeletons when struck by moonlight—now feels like “been there, plundered that.”
This time, the subtitle—and there’s always a subtitle—is Dead Men Tell No Tales or Salazar’s Revenge in some regions (why the two names?). I get a vicarious thrill whenever a film’s name is actually spoken out loud by a character and Bardem’s ghastly Captain Salazar—a zombie-fied rival of Depp’s perpetually soused swashbuckler Jack Sparrow whose re-awakened ghoulish Spanish crew is determined to slay every pirate on the high seas—doesn’t disappoint. As this leader of a gang of buccaneers in various degrees of decay explains in between the gushes of blood oozing from his mouth, he always leaves one survivor to pass along his legendary exploits. Why? “Dead men tell no tales.”
What else is new? One might be curious. Well, for once, Jonny Depp’s humour is pretty rusty—a running gag about the term “horologist” gets a real workout. Two fresh and younger faces have been brought on board. Actor Brenton Thwaites is Henry, the grown son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. He eventually pairs up with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), an orphaned self-taught astronomer whose smarts get her pegged as a witch. They partner with Sparrow in seeking Poseidon’s trident so Henry can break the curse that has exiled his father and eventually run into another old friend, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, who once again rises above the busy chases, sword fights and loud calamities simply by being subtle rather than obvious). That the newcomers don’t engage in a romance is as original as “Dead Men” gets.
The CGI nowadays, is so omnipresent in almost all films, it is hardly worth mentioning. But one scene in particular from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is worth a mention—the young Jack Sparrow. What the studio has achieved through CGI is amazing. I was baffled for once, and I thought this was some footage taken from the audition or somewhere else.
Anyway, I’m going with 3/5 stars for Joachim Rønning &Espen Sandberg’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Those who end up seeing Dead Men Don’t Tell Tales anyway, might just recognize a hollow feeling as they leave the theater.