Director: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg
Cast: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally, Brenton Thwaites, GolshiftehFarahani, Kaya Scodelario
Genre:Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Runtime: 2 h 9 min
The public consensus seemed to very clearly be that there was no need for yet another ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie especially when considering the bad taste left by the last instalment. There was no need to roll out Johnny Depp’s most iconic character only for the purposes of likely tarnishing the legacy of Captain Jack Sparrow further. Of course, considering the fact ‘’On Stranger Tides’’ still made over a billion dollars worldwide despite the lukewarm audience reaction and even worse critical reception it was almost guaranteed we’d be getting another pirate adventure at some point. Well, that day has finally come and the question still remains, “Is this necessary?”. “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is the type of sequel general movie-goers likely wanted the first time around as opposed to the somewhat convoluted and slightly bloated sequels we actually received. I was pleasantly surprised by the darker undertones as well as the grand nature of the story that Ronning and Sandberg were able to develop and construct out of an original film that they’d seemingly put every pirate idea they’d ever had into. They were able to present everything one could want out of such an adventure as less than fifteen minutes into “Dead Men Tell No Tales”we have yet another fantastic, if not slightly obvious, introduction to Jack Sparrow that is quickly followed by a fantastic action set piece that sees a mid-1700’s style bank being pulled through a town on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean. There is an inventiveness to the action that is established in this first sequence that carries through to each show-stopper whether it be Captain Jack swinging in circles while trapped in a guillotine or the finale in which the sea separates and the Black Pearl rides the crest of the water in order to try and rescue our heroes who are trapped on the sea floor. Though the rather magnificent action is in service of a rather pedestrian story it’s hard to complain when something that was made for pure profit turns out to have elements of real inspiration.
It is to this point that “Dead Men Tell No Tales”largely succeeds more than it fails despite the fact it doesn’t reach the heights of the majority of its predecessors. Ithas the aura of a genuine, crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster and it is these standards the film seemingly held itself to. When the film does indulge in such modern techniques though, it typically does so in cool and stimulating ways with the most obvious example of such being the design of Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his crew. Salazar specifically is missing half of his face as his teeth ooze ash-coloured saliva every time he seethes. Such exaggerated appearances are only enhanced by the performances of the seasoned cast, chiefly Bardem who has been making menacing appealing since 2007. Having a formidable foe is key and Bardem has proved time and time again he can deliver as much, but even in something as large as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’the actor finds new ways of striking fear into both the audience and our hero’s heart alike. As for other performances, no other newcomers are as indelible as Bardem, but Scodelario is a close second as she lends what could have easily been a plot point of a character who spouts exposition and information into a real human with a surprisingly emotional arc that lands as intended. Thwaites is fine enough in that he is a pretty boy, much like Bloom, who rarely displays genuine charm and is more akin to a wooden board than a brave and sympathetic leading man, also very much like Bloom.
It is likely with great relief to Depp’s wallet and box office credibility that he again gets to don the mascara and dreadlocks of Jack Sparrow, but while his star has undoubtedly waned the man is still very good at what he does this time offering a Sparrow who is less put together than ever before. Leaning on the rum more than he ever has, desperate to cling to the traits that make him a pirate, never mind one of the greats, Captain Jack Sparrow has become what we all kind of knew he would no matter how many chances he was given and Depp plays into this underlying sadness as if it were a strength.
That said, “Dead Men Tell No Tales”does offer Sparrow another chance to redeem his character and set off on a more promising path where it succeeds giving this much-loved character a fitting finale.