Hard as it might be to believe it’s been 14 years since we first became acquainted with a drunken pirate named Jack Sparrow whose exploits and blind luck made us laugh, sit on the edge of our seats and scream “Shiver me timbers!” Okay so maybe we didn’t scream that but we did find ourselves so enamored of the scalawag that three movies followed that one. Now a fourth, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES has found its way to disc and it’s as enjoyable as the rest.
As complicated as the last sequel, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES, seemed to be this once is more so at times. Old and new faces combine this time around, my guess is in hopes that the franchise could carry on with the new faces while still paying tribute to the old. A short sequence after the credits makes me believe this even more.
This time around we meet Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) who was cast onto the Flying Dutchman ship to sail the seas for eternity. Henry has learned that there is a way to free his father from this eternal curse and he needs Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) to help him. Before that can happen Henry is tossed into the brig on the ship he’s on just as it is attacked by a ghost ship commandeered by Capt. Salazar (Javier Bardem). Salazar always leaves one survivor from his attacks to carry the word because dead men tell no tales. He sends a message with Henry, to let Jack Sparrow know death awaits him.
Henry makes his way to the last location Sparrow was seen at just as two other plot lines are taking place. Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a woman who studies science in a time when that wasn’t allowed, is about to be hung for being a witch. And Sparrow and his crew have just stolen a safe with all the money of the town he is in. Unfortunately Jack was caught and is about to be beheaded. Which is about the time Henry and Jack’s crew show to save the day.
Plots twist again as Jack ties up both Carina and Henry who soon come to realize that they are both searching for the same thing, an island that doesn’t exist where it is said the Trident of Poseidon can be found. With the Trident Jack can free his father and Carina decipher the map left her when she was a child.
Next twist. I told you there were plenty. Salazar and his ghost ship have taken to the high seas and are wreaking havoc on the fleet owned by Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Jack’s old nemesis/friend. Before he eliminates him and his crew, Barbossa negotiates a plan with Salazar to aid him in his search for Sparrow. Of course all of these plot threads come together like a pirate’s eyepatch before the finale.
As with all of the other films the acting here is solid from all involved. Perhaps the weakest performance comes from Depp who spends most of the story inebriated and just wandering through. While the other films had him in this condition it wasn’t to this extent and he was more involved with the tales going on. Here he just seems to be wandering about, a character there because the series was based around him. Newcomers Scodelario and Thwaites leave a better impression and Rush displays more depth to Barbossa than he has in the past. And for fans you’ll be glad to see that Bloom and Keira Knightley both make an appearance tying the films together as does Depp and Rush.
The past films have been noted and discussed since the first for the amazing special effects that were on display. You’ll find that Disney hasn’t let that slide as there are more amazing effects on display here as well, including a half rotted trio of sharks that threaten our heroes as well as fantastic ghostly effects involving Salazar and his crew. That being said at times the effects overpower everything else and the movie feels more like it depends more on them than the actors or any sets that were used. Over reliance on the effects takes away from the rest of the movie.
All things considered the movie was still a lot of fun. When released I recall the press slamming the film and headlines about how much less it earned than the others. It doesn’t matter. What does is the end result, is the film worth watching? Yes, it is. Is it worth buying? If you’re a fan of the series it’s worth picking up to have the complete set. If not, then it is still worth giving a watch and then deciding to buy or not. As for me I can see myself pulling it out from time to time to watch again. Maybe pick up some fish from Captain D’s on the way home. Some salt water taffy. Too much? Okay, just know that it’s fun then and worth the time spent watching.
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