By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas)


When viewing Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, I can’t help but think of the enigmatic director Ridley Scott and his quote on sequels in which he says, “I’ve always avoided sequels unless I felt there was something fresh.” Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a splendid example of why studios shouldn’t make sequels for the purpose of financial gain. But, instead, try to reignite your franchise with fresh ideas and new charismatic characters, so that you can bring in new crowds who are unaware of your franchise. The key to breaking box office records and growing your film in popularity is the good old fashioned word of mouth. If your film fails to entertain or mesmerize, then it will never gross a sufficient amount in that second weekend. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a perfect example of adequate and forgettable entertainment. With a plot focusing on the convergence of past and new characters to find the Trident of Poseidon to save the people they care for and themselves from the undead Captain Salazar.

From the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales I began to realize that this is a film that is obviously not made for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Black Pearl when it first came out. It was riveting with its characters, action, and its narrative was remarkably adventurous. Since then the franchise has been in a steady decline since that first film, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is another forgettable addition to this franchise. In comparison with its predecessor Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, this installment is a bit better as far creating a more engaging narrative. The narrative has much more enticement as far as the characters motivations and the narratives reasoning for why these events are taking place. However, in comparison to its filmmaking, it struggles with creating urgency.

Every character has a place and knowledgeable reason for being where they are, but it feels very lackadaisical with how the action and characters are depicted. These characters are given no stakes or pressure to accomplishing their goals, other than to save their life. The dull use of camera movements makes this urgency fade even faster. Plot devices crowd this movie as well, with multiple character and events feeling placed in the narrative to either extend the runtime or provide bridging points for the story to continue. The action itself is shot well for the most part, but it feels as if it’s mimicking past films, with some shot, in particular, looking undeniably familiar as if they were lifted from previous films so that the directors would not have to fear to create originality with their depiction of this franchise. The editing is also a bit choppy with how it chooses to cut from shot to shot, but for the most part, creates a seamless ride.

The performances are okay, but one character that stood out a lot was that of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Naturally, he sticks out, but in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales he sticks out in an unfamiliar way. He feels very bland in his caricature of this pirate. It seems that Depp fails to create that same energetic vibrancy that was displayed in its debut as this likable character. Instead, he feels as if he’s pretending to be this character as compared to portraying this character. It was disheartening to watch his performance because it served as an almost symbolic reminder of the decline that this franchise has taken. No one else sticks out in the one hundred and twenty-nine minute run time, Javier Bardem was satisfactory with his depiction of Captain Salazar. But overall these characters and performances felt very admissible or acceptable. Nothing surprised me actually, and going into this film; it’s hard to believe anything would.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is not an atrocious film, but it’s very bland with its substance no matter its glossy design. It’s the fifth sequel in this franchise, and it’s almost just as forgettable as the last one. Begging the question as to why create something that provided no compelling additions to this franchise? Instead Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales begins to drown with its ship as if the captain has decided to go down with the ship, no matter how many members of his crew attempt to abandon their sinking fortress.

Rating: 2/5



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