Johnny Depp Javier Bardem Brenton Thwaites Kaya Scodelario Geoffrey Rush Kevin R. McNally
This fifth version of the Pirates is swashbuckling, extremely loud, and chock full of CGI effects. It may have been the particular theater I was in for the screening, but the sound was so deafening, it was difficult at times to make out the dialog, especially if a character’s speech was not well articulated. But this won’t bother a real fan of Pirates of the Caribbean; one I talked with afterwards was very pleased with what he saw.
The tantalizing search in this version is to find Poseidon’s trident, which holds a secret (map) showing the location of treasure. Henry Turner (Thwaites), son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), needs it to break the curse that keeps his father from returning home. Carina (Scodelario), an astronomer (accused of being a witch because of her scientific knowledge), wants it to map the universe and reveal to her who her father is. (He has left her a ruby-encrusted diary that will guide her to it). Captain Salazar (Bardem), who used to be a pirate hunter for the Spanish Navy, was betrayed by Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) and has ended up getting trapped in the Devil’s Triangle. He and his crew are now ghosts who cannot survive on land. He has it in big time for the elusive, immature drunk, Sparrow.
Finally, Captain Barbossa (Rush), Sparrow’s erstwhile rival, has tried to execute Sparrow, Henry Turner, and Carina, but now becomes their ally against Salazar who is in the process of destroying Barbossa’s fleet of ships.
The adventure in Dead Men Tell No Tales, is the quest for the treasure, with Henry’s and Carina’s father issues woven in. My impression is that the filmmakers were more interested in a special effects extravaganza than dramatic characterization and story. Consequently, we see many spectacular battles and close calls from which the heroes magically escape, especially Sparrow, who is portrayed as an endearing, spastic drunk.
Johnny Depp has played this character so many times, he can do it without much thought or planning. Bardem and Rush are probably the most impressive actors in the group because the roles written for them are colorful and dimensional. Thwaites and Scodelario are good, given what is written for them, but their characters should have been more fleshed out.
Even diehard fans may have trouble with this latest version of Pirates of the Caribbean. Not much new is introduced to capture the imagination. The film does acknowledge women’s issues in showing the skepticism toward women as scientists and the theme of the primordial search for the father, but both subjects are mostly in passing.
Dead men might not tell tales, but they can wreak havoc as ghosts (if you believe in them) or as thinly drawn characters in a so-so movie.