The latest addition to the Pirates franchise (number 5!) sees Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), along with a couple of new recruits Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina (Kaya Scodelario), face off against a new supernatural threat in the form of Captain Slazar (Javier Bardem) a foe from Jack’s past.
The new movie establishes and expands upon the universe from the previous movies, fitting in well with the Pirates timeline and filling in some of the characters’ pasts and the gaps between this and the previous instalment (On Stranger Tides).
However, there’s not much here that’s new. The tone, characters and a lot of the narrative beats are very similar to those in the previous films. For example, someone is caught, locked up, they escape (in a usually extravagant way) and repeat. This has not only been seen in previous films, but takes place on more than one occasion in this film.
As well as this, there’s a lot of the bog-standard Jack Sparrow “Jack Sparrow-ing” about, which if you are a fan of the franchise you’ll enjoy to see again, even if it does feel very similar to recent films. Along with this, the film does have it’s good comic moments, with both the old and new characters.
However it doesn’t live up to the heights of the original movie (as none of them have) and there’s one particularly big problem with “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, and that’s overtly expositional dialogue. The main narrative and lore of the film is too often told through the characters’ dialogue which feels very unnatural and condescending. Audiences can figure things out for themselves through the aid of visuals and other forms of storytelling, so being repeatedly told what’s going on is rather irritating.
On the bright side, the CGI and visual effects are fantastic and are used throughout very effectively. There’s some really nice set pieces, characters and environments enhanced or created with the use of CGI which look fantastic.
The new characters are strong enough, but the writing throughout feels a bit weak. The returning characters of Jack Sparrow and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) give as strong a performance as in previous films and help to guide audiences in to the new characters. It feels very much like Disney have attempted a soft reboot of the franchise, like Star Wars: The Force Awakens but they don’t manage to pull this off to the same standard.
All in all, if you’re a fan of the franchise then you’ll get more out of this than most audience members. There’s some nice backstory and history added to the franchise and the ending is especially great for fans. For those who aren’t hug fans, it’s still an entertaining film with some great comical moments throughout, but don’t expect much to be different from the other films.