Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the fifth installment of the Disney ride inspired saga. Johnny Depp reprises his role as the rollicking, rum-guzzlin’, pirate captain, Jack Sparrow. Dead Men may tell no tales but they can make for interesting story lines as evidenced by the success of this film franchise.
Sparrow’s chief ghost pirate nemesis—Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem)—is an outlaw, like other pirates, but is a pirate hunter for the Spanish Navy. He is seeking revenge on them because they killed his father, a ship captain. Salazar also has a very innovative method of using his ship to attack other ships. He’s hell-bent on finding and killing Sparrow because Sparrow tricked him years ago into entering the Devil’s Triangle and sent him to Davy Jones locker. Also in the flashback scene we discover why Salazar nicknamed him “Sparrow” when Jack was a young sailor and also see how Sparrow gained his pirate captaincy.
We first view Sparrow (who Johnny Depp partially modeled on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards) sleeping inside a bank vault that the military commander of the island of St. Martin is telling a crowd was impregnable. Sparrow and crew are robbing the bank and encounter a problem, so they adapt their plan slightly which makes for some hilarious scenes.
The Search for Neptune’s Trident
At a low point Sparrow trades his compass for a bottle of rum, which unleashes demon forces against him. He spends the rest of the film teamed up with Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) who is seeking to lift a curse from his dead sailor father; and Carina Smyth Barbossa (Kaya Scodelario) who people think is a witch because she is a strong-willed, educated woman and knows about astronomy. The three of them, each for their own reasons, and Salazar are on a quest to find Neptune’s trident, which will give them power over the seas and break all curses. It is said that a map to the trident exists, but it is a map that no man can read (good thing there is a learned woman on Sparrow’s team).
There are many visually interesting scenes including the ghost pirates, who had various parts of their bodies missing due to injuries sustained, and their ghost ships. Most of these scenes use fast-moving pans and quick edits, you almost want the shot to linger a little longer to make out a little more of the details. There is a very famous rock and roll star that makes a cameo as a prisoner. His recognizable voice helped me figure out who it was under the costume.
An interesting sea bird made its way to pirate Barbossa’s (Geoffrey Rush) ship and started chirping. A sailor on the ship didn’t notice anything wrong with that until he did a double take and saw that it was a skeletal ghost bird with a bone in its leg missing. This signaled that the pirate ghost ship was coming. And if you thought the shark in Jaws was scary, wait until you see the ghost sharks.
A very funny scene is when Sparrow is captured and is given his choice of execution style: hanging, firing squad, or a new french invention, the guillotine. He chooses the guillotine thinking that if it’s French it can’t be too bad. Turner attempts to rescue Sparrow from the guillotine which is the catalyst for a great comedy action sequence.
I have come late to this series of films, except for seeing some of the first one, but better late than never. Dead Men Tell No Tales works on several different levels, action adventure, comedy, and love story. It demonstrates how successful an action movie can be if it has a strong script as its foundation and is well-directed. It also helps if the CGI and special effects are amazing too, as they are in Dead Men Tell No Tales. Depp excels as Captain Jack Sparrow with his keen comedic instinct. Here’s hoping he continues to sail the seas.
Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central and wants to be a pirate.