PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES Review – “Destiny Is in the Stars”

Disney’s DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is the fifth and final movie in the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise.  Captain Jack pilots us through this non-stop adventure with his usual flair and aplomb, remaining, for me, the shining star of the series.  One of my favorite scenes was a sort-of origin story for Jack, but I won’t say more about it, because, even though this is a sequel, I want to keep the spoilers to a minimum.  I confess that until two days before the screening, I had only seen THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL.  I watched the first two on Monday and the second two on Tuesday, so the story was very fresh in my mind.   Continue reading for our DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES review.

In DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, we follow Henry Turner in his quest to save his father, Will Turner, from the curse of the Flying Dutchman.  In his search for Jack Sparrow (Captain), he crosses paths with Carina Smyth, who is deemed a “witch” because she studies and understands science.  They join forces to find Jack, who Henry is convinced can help him destroy the curse.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

L to R: Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There are three main storylines, running concurrently.  Along with Henry’s mission, Carina is in search of her long-lost father, who left her with a secret map, but no name (hence Smyth).  Captain Salazar, an old nemesis of Jack Sparrow, is searching for him, hoping to right what once went so wrong.  Jack, with his compass, of course, is perpetually in search of a ship and a good quantity of rum, but will forsake both for a good adventure, often creating one where there might not have been one without him.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

Pictured: Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow) Photo by Peter Mountain © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is all about dualities.  Disney has touched on this theme in previous films (most notably, MALEFICENT) and, of course, every PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN film has turned the bad guy/good guy dichotomy on its head.  The pursuer becomes the pursued; the pirate becomes the hero; the swabbie becomes the captain; and so on and so forth.  In fact, there seems to be a subtle sub-theme – rigidity of character is dangerous; flexibility and independent open-mindedness are both desirous and best-rewarded.  If you remain too fixed upon what you think is right and true, rather than being present in the situation and reassessing matters as aspects around you change, you will not be able to respond appropriately to what’s actually happening.  There are a lot of parallels between this story and the first one, including improbable rescues, daring women, undead sailors, and more.  Rather than feeling too derivative, it’s more a harkening back to the movie that started it all and made us all fall in love with Captain Jack Sparrow.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

Pictured: Javier Bardem (Captain Salazar) © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Jack Sparrow aside, my favorite part of the movie was the special effects.  They’re spectacular.  (Zombie) Captain Salazar and his (zombie) crew are presented as they were at the time of their deaths.  Captain Salazar is the most impressive, walking on land, but appearing to move through water.  I couldn’t take my eyes off him, especially his hair, whenever he was on screen (and not just because Javier Bardem is so compelling an actor).  There is a very big hint, too, about when the movie takes place.  You can probably place the movie in the correct decade and possibly even within year or two.  This causes a possible anachronistic problem with the witch story, but you can ignore that.  After all, we’ve already accepted zombie pirates, right?  Another seriously impressive aspect of the film is the zombie . . . well, I’ll let you discover that for yourself.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

L to R: Geoffrey Rush (Captain Barbossa) and Javier Bardem (Captain Salazar) © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is fast-moving with lots of violence, but very little active gore and just a hint of bawdy humor.  It’s PG-13 for very good reason and I’d use that as a guideline.  If you’ve watched the previous PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies, you know whether your children can handle them.  This one is no more violent or gruesome, just in different ways. It’s a little long, but engaging, for the most part.  Stay through the credits for the post-credit scene and tell us what you think it means in the comments below.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

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About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.