Verge Reviews: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Captain Jack Sparrow is back on form in Disney’s latest outing of Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since the Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End came out. That film was the end of the original trilogy and I think it was universally agreed that the franchise needed a break and a chance to re-energise itself. Four years later, On Stranger Tides was released and again, it didn’t exactly set the world alight with a long and over-complicated plot with characters that no-one really cared about, except of course for Captain Jack. Happily though, Dead Men Tell No Tales seems to have finally held its own.

The film begins with a young Henry Turner, desperate to be reunited with his father Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) who is sworn to spend an eternity as Captain of the dead aboard The Flying Dutchman. After learning about the magic of the Trident of Poseidon, an artefact that has the ability to control the seas, Henry attempts to take his own life to tell his father that there could be a way for him to break his eternal bond to the ship. Henry spends the next decade trying to locate Captain Jack Sparrow to help find the Trident of Poseidon in an effort to be reunited with his father. As is so often the case, we find Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) down on his luck and once again, missing from The Black Pearl whilst spearheading an ambitious bank robbery attempt for himself and his crew. Whilst on the run from the natives and Officers, Sparrow meets Carina (Kaya Scodelario), a young astronomer whose diary contains clues of the whereabouts of the Trident. After being arrested, Sparrow is confronted by Henry in prison, hoping his ties to Will and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) will persuade him to help him find the Trident, but once Jack learns that the undead Pirate Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his crew have escaped The Devil’s Triangle, Jack realises that he must help Henry find the Trident and kill Salazar before he has his revenge.


I think it’s safe to say that whilst we all love the idea of Captain Jack returning to our screens, we have been let down by the franchise on more than one occasion. I have to be honest though, Dead Men Tell No Tales is certainly more enjoyable than all of it’s predecessors apart from, of course, The Curse Of The Black Pearl. There are some aspects that are great, fun and quite refreshing to watch, but equally it seems to be let down again by some of the same issues that has plagued the franchise for over a decade. Let’s start with the positives though. It may pain some to say, but this movie is funny! Depp has taken on his most famous role with a new freshness, providing plenty of punchlines and is back to doing what he does best as Captain Jack. As well as Depp, there are some great performances from Geoffrey Rush, back as Captain Barbossa and Javier Bardem as Salazar but Kaya Scodelario is fantastic as Carina. Scodelario completely owns every minute on the screen and is much more accustomed to the supporting role than Brenton Thwaites, who gives a shockingly wooden performance as Henry, so much so that you’re rooting for Carina not to give into his good looks. The most pleasing aspect of the film for me is the retelling of Jack’s past. Through some amazing CGI work, we’re shown a younger Jack, teasing and showing off to Salazar and his crew as he manages to become the only man to defeat Salazar, hence becoming the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow. It’s a scene-stealing moment that will no doubt be a big hit for those who have loved the character of Jack Sparrow since he first appeared on our screens in 2003.

So, it’s fun and there seems to be real desire to get back back to what made the original films such a success but sadly, as I said earlier it is let down on more than one occasion by the same problems that it’s predecessors suffered from. Firstly, the CGI. I remember the special effects used in At World’s End weren’t exactly ground-breaking and it’s the same story here. Despite the impressive work that went into making a younger Jack Sparrow, the special effects really aren’t that impressive. Especially the last battle that takes place underwater, it just seems so messy and is so poorly done that it takes away the credibility and the importance of the actual battle to point where you don’t really care who wins. Similarly, the weird water effect that is used on Salazar and his crew gets quite annoying the more they appear on screen, which obviously isn’t ideal. As well as the effects, the plot is so long and drawn out. It’s simple enough to follow but it doesn’t really flow as quickly as it should do. Having said that, it is still a lot quicker and more exciting than On Stranger Tides, At World’s End and especially Dead Man’s Chest!

To summarise then, there are certainly more parts in Dead Men Tell No Tales for fans to get excited about than they have done in the past. There are some interesting cameos which fans of the original trilogy will enjoy and also a punchy appearance from Sir Paul McCartney who plays Jack Sparrow’s Uncle which isn’t as bad or awkward as it sounds! Dead Men Tell No Tales is actually a welcome return to the Pirates of The Caribbean franchise. It’s not as good as The Curse Of The Black Pearl and to be honest, I’m not sure if any future Pirates movie will ever beat it, but it’s certainly an upgrade on it’s three predecessors. And a fun one at that!

Rating: 3.5/5
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is released on Thursday 25th May in the UK and Friday 26th May in the USA by Walt Disney Studios.

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