Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review — Awful and Full of Continuity Errors

I really like the first three Pirates of The Caribbean movies. They’re not bastions of logical enlightenment, but they have a sound emotional core and brilliant execution…especially for being inspired by a legendary theme park attraction.

I even kind of liked On Stranger Tides. Wait come back! It’s a different thing, a side story that’s also a solid adaptation of an out-of-print pirate novel with the same title. It also didn’t break anything about the original trilogy.

In contrast, this new film feels like no one even watched the other movies before making it. The result is a big expensive mess, with a couple of funny bits, and a whole lot of problems.

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This movie feels like it’s trying to be a soft reboot of the series…while also trying to tie up a few loose ends from the previous four movies. The result is a continuity nightmare. Character origins are changed. The origin of Jack’s magical compass is changed. Characters that probably would have been mentioned had they existed during the time of the original trilogy spring into existence and just hope you won’t notice.

The writing is a hot garbage fire, sadly. And no amount of money or talent can save it.

The story sees Jack Sparrow, resourceful-yet-doofy pirate, once again going on an adventure to help some young people escape the clutches of a supernatural pirate crew. Except this time, instead of being resourceful, he’s just drunk for most of the movie. It makes no sense. Jack rarely ever got drunk in the earlier films, and his antics always walked the line between genius and madness. Here, he literally stumbles his way through most of the movie, and Johnny Depp can’t do anything to save it.

Geoffrey Rush gets similarly lame treatment. Barbossa is reduced to being a victim of circumstance, no longer the dynamic and unpredictable anti-hero that we grew to love in the other movies. He’s kind of just a sad sack now, bound by his emotions. To be fair, Geoffrey Rush pulls this off because he’s a great actor, but it’s kind of a waste.

If you like movies where Javier Bardem plays a villain…well, this is another one of those. His character, Salazar, is given a backstory that makes almost zero logical sense in the context of the franchise, and then he’s just unleashed upon the plot when its convenient for the story. The one cool thing about the character is the way his ship can literally eat other ships. That was great.

Completely wasted are Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner and Kaya Scodelario as Carina. They’re both great actors, and Carina even has a decently-clever setup where she’s a woman of science in a world that doesn’t appreciate that…but none of it ever goes anywhere. They’re just here to be the pretty young people that fall in love and drive the story along.

Oh also there’s a witch lady at one point, who drinks some green goop. And then disappears from the story. I felt bad for the actress playing her. She probably spent hours in the makeup chair, and then she was in the movie for five minutes.

The main driving action centers around all the characters trying to get the Trident Of Poseidon, a McGuffin so powerful and ridiculous that its mere existence makes the entire franchise pointless. It literally removes anything of consequence from every single other film they’ve made…kind of like that time at the end of Power Rangers in Space when Zordon blew himself up to defeat all the bad guys.

If you were dying to see what happened with Will and Elizabeth’s son from the third movie…well you’ll get those answers. But they’re kind of “meh.” If you wanted one more adventure with witty Jack Sparrow…he’s drunk for most of the movie and not really up to it. I did like the part where he falls off a fence into some mud. If you thought it wasn’t possible for a movie to make even less sense than the first four Pirates movies…get ready for a big surprise.

This is the worst movie of this franchise by several notches, and largely a waste of the $250 million dollars they spent on it. It’s got maybe five laughs and two decent action sequences, and a plot that makes zero sense and does a disservice to its characters and cast. If you’re a Pirates fan you can’t help but be disappointed, and if you’re a newcomer you’ll be totally lost. If you haven’t seen this yet, run away while you still can.

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I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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