The Big Picture

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The Big Picture Introduction

5th installment in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (feels more like the 10th to be honest), which started as a cinematic universe for the theme park ride of the same name, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is coming to theatres today, and we’re not quite sure what to make of it…

It’s been 14 years since Gore Verbinski successfully started the saga with The Curse of the Black Pearl, which led to the 3 additional entertaining opuses Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End, and On Stranger Tides. And as we felt that we got pretty much everything we could out of the saga’s storyline by the end, we thought Disney would feel the same way…. But – as we’re getting used to now – we should never underestimate a studio’s appetite for money, no matter how much of a bad idea trying to revive old successes oftentimes is. (Seriously, what happened to creativity?)

Behold, then, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, where Johnny Depp, now 53, is back as the annoying, alcoholic and socially limited, Jack Sparrow, for a new adventure where he’ll have to face a past enemy he angered alongside 2 beautiful, young people who are the only ones who don’t realize they belong together. Wait…? Haven’t we seen that one before? Anyway.

But even though its plot sounds shockingly familiar, there’s still a chance for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, to offer what the Pirates franchise was meant to in the first place: An action-packed, amusing and highly entertaining summer blockbuster.

To find out if that’s what it did, let’s dive into the opinions of our devoted reviewers…


A drained franchise

We understand the need for Disney to re-use something that worked in the past in the hope that nostalgic audiences will run to the theatre (a very prominent trend in Hollywood these days), but let’s be honest, choosing to bring back such a been-there-done-that movie series was probably quite a lazy move.

In fact, in this new chapter, it feels like “Mr. Depp, as Capt. Jack Sparrow, goes through the motions like a washed-up rock star reprising his greatest hits in a half-empty auditorium.” Plus, the script, written by Jeff Nathanson (Tower Heist, Rush Hour 3), turns out to be “a tedious rehash,” which mimics “the structure and story beats of the series’ first installment, with markedly diminished returns.”

In the end, “never has a “Pirates” film felt this inessential.”

Chaotic action

Although the Pirates of the Caribbean films are famous for being visually imposing, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales makes it look like it was granted a much smaller budget than its predecessors, leading to “a mercenary, visually unappealing exercise in brand maintenance.”

“Throwing everything they can think of at the screen,” the crew behind the visual effects of the movie sometimes deliver striking visual moments, including the apparition of some terrifying evil spirits, “while others look like incompletely-buffered Playstation 2 characters.” Let’s say it frankly, it sometimes feels “dodgy.”

Moreover, the story “rarely appears to be taking place anywhere other than a soundstage, featuring pirates posed against unnaturally hued skies, and a foggy color palette that ranges from gray to slate, gunmetal, granite, and ash.”

In conclusion, it doesn’t look too good for the never-ending Disney franchise… A quick advice? Abandon ship!

Best quotes from the reviews:

“14 years and four films later, the “Pirates” franchise has finally delivered exactly what cynics had expected all along.” – Andrew Barker, Variety

“Paying cash money to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the equivalent of walking the plank.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“This movie would be a rip-off even if someone paid you to see it.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“It is like seeing a classic rock band perform uninspired encores of their biggest hits, with only fleeting reminders of the magic that made you like their music to begin with.” – Jim Vejvoda, IGN