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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales FILM REVIEW


Directors: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg

Screenplay: Jeff Nathanson

Story: Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio

Starring: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, David Wenham, Orlando Bloom

Rated PG-13 for sequences of adventure violence, and some suggestive content

Running Time: 2 hours 9 minutes

** out of *****


Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Captain Jack Sparrow must contend with the vengeful Captain Salazar (Javiar Bardem) in the latest PIRATES adventure, DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES.


The latest entry in the very lucrative Disney ride-turned into a movie film franchise, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, is a sinking ship. It's a very slow sinking vessel of which there is no escaping from. It takes on water at such a slow pace that it feels much longer than its 129 minute running time would imply. It's a dull and slow ride that you'd likely wish someone would just blow a larger hole in the hull to get it over and done with. I never thought there could be another entry in the series that was as less engaging or as forgettable as Rob Marshall's ON STRANGER TIDES. While DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is a marked improvement over the previous entry it is the most boring entry in the entire franchise.

The Gore Verbinski directed original opened in theatres in the summer of 2003. It took audiences by surprise and proved to be a fun and entertaining swashbuckler which featured an Academy Award nominated performance by Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Since then the subsequent sequels simply have not lived up to the freshness or quality of the original. Johnny Depp's performance with each new film has never really expanded upon nor have attempts really been made to make the character more compelling beyond what has already been established. The character continues to grow stale and for this reviewer the shtick is pretty much dead. Hints of this were present in ON STRANGER TIDES as Sparrow seemed to take a back seat to the action in that film. He is once again along for the ride in this one and even with the inclusion of characters not seen in ten years it still fails to stay afloat.

Once again Jack is in pursuit of a mythical treasure, the trident of Poseidon, and once again the action set pieces that push the film towards the conclusion feel very recycled. Ghosts, ghost ships, a monkey and Jack's stereotypical reactions are present and accounted for. We've seen this all before in the other films and it really contributes to the ensuing boredom. The addition of CGI ghost sharks can't even inject some life and levity into the proceedings. Even the trend of deaging actors makes an appearance in this film to very little effect.

The film is directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg who helmed the great true-life adventure film KON-TIKI. Unfortunately they failed to make this film as engaging, as memorable or as compelling as that Academy Award nominated film. Part of the blame must reside in the story and screenplay by Jeff Nathanson. The story sticks too close to the formula and never feels like they were trying to explore new ground. Being it's the fifth film in the ongoing series I guess it's safer to stick to what works but the problem is that it's not working anymore. There are attempts to inject some backstory for some characters but by the time those plot developments occur you'll likely have already checked out of the film and may not even care.

The film co-stars Javier Bardem as Salazar, Geoffrey Rush returning as Barbossa, Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner, Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth, David Wenham as Scarfield and Orlando Bloom returns as Will Turner. Of all of them it would seem Wenham gets the shaft as his character is nothing more than a stereotypical villain of little consequence. Bardem, buried under CGI, does what he can with a less than three dimensional character. Rush is fine as Barbossa and proves to be the only character of any interest. Thwaites and Scodelario try as they may but they are not Bloom and Knightley.

The fifth film in the franchise may not be the weakest entry in the series but comes pretty damn close. It's a dull and lifeless adventure which is a shame considering the original was such a fun and lively affair. One can only hope that the next film, which is teased in the post-credit scene, will help right the ship but it's safe to say this ship is doomed.


Rating Scale:

***** = Outstanding ****1/2 = Excellent **** = Very Good ***1/2 = Above Average

*** = Good **1/2 = Mediocre ** = Fair *1/2 = Poor * = Bad 1/2* = Abysmal

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