“Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”— fifth installment sinks an already wrecked ship

The fifth film in Disney's infamous franchise falls short.

Photograph Courtesy of IMDb

The fifth film in Disney’s infamous franchise falls short.

Trevor Tyle, Staff Intern

Spoiler alert: This review contains plot spoilers.

Since its debut in 2003, Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise has become one of the most successful film franchises of all time. The franchise’s most recent installment, “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” further proved this with its triumph over the Memorial Day weekend box office. The film has made over $500 million so far.

However, despite its commercial success, the latest “Pirates” film has thrown the franchise even deeper into its continued downward spiral.

When the original “Pirates” trilogy concluded ten years ago, it came to a fitting end, bringing closure to most of the major characters’ story arcs. However, instead of letting a good thing die, Disney continued with the franchise—without director Gore Verbinski—and permanently tainted it with not one, but two sequels that have fallen short of its predecessors.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” should be given some credit. It had little to work with, following up “On Stranger Tides,” which is so bad that it’s almost completely irrelevant to the rest of the franchise. However, in undoing its predecessor’s mistakes, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” plays it safe, acting as a bad rehash of the near-perfect first “Pirates” film, “The Curse of the Black Pearl.”

Newcomers Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina (Kaya Scodelario) work as strong additions to the series if you can look past their similarities to Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), the protagonists of the original trilogy. This shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, though, as Henry is Will and Elizabeth’s son, determined to free his father of a curse brought upon him in the third film, “At World’s End,” with the help of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow.

As always, Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush deliver with their respective portrayals of Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa, which is surely one of the few elements keeping the franchise afloat. Javier Bardem also offers a solid performance as the film’s antagonist, Captain Salazar—though he doesn’t come close to previous villain Davy Jones. Both Bloom and Knightley reprise their roles, albeit briefly, in the latest installment. Unfortunately, their return is far too brief, but remains one of the few truly enjoyable moments in the film. The acting is one of the film’s strongest offerings, sans a bizarre and pointless cameo from Paul McCartney.

Despite some stellar performances, there are far too many character motives to keep track of, creating an unnecessarily complicated storyline whose introduction wastes the first half of the film away.

Once the film is done failing at copying its predecessors, it starts stealing schticks from other successful franchises—most notably “Star Wars.” No, there aren’t any lightsabers or space battles, but there is a shocking—and somewhat forced—revelation regarding the connection between two characters, resulting in the slightly detrimental humanization of an otherwise strong character.

Needless to say, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” has some serious flaws. Fans of the franchise will most likely enjoy the film, but will be unable to overlook some of its major issues. Though the final act—especially the must-see post-credits scene—redeems some of the film’s shortcomings, it still lacks the straightforwardness and fun of the original trilogy.

Is “Dead Men Tell No Tales” awful? No, but it’s far from good. Thankfully, the film’s resolution gives Disney the potential to make a fantastic sixth—and hopefully final—installment. However, without the direction of Gore Verbinski and the starring roles of Bloom and Knightley, Disney might as well abandon ship now.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars