10 Thoughts on “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”

Born in the late 1990s, I grew up watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The brilliant acting of Johnny Depp, the elaborate costumes and the engaging characters got me hooked from The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003. Although I was let down by the fourth instalment of the series: On Stranger Tides, I was going to ensure that I saw the fifth movie in the series: Dead Men Tell No Tales, or as it was called in the UK: Salazar’s Revenge. So here are my ten thoughts on the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film.

1. Kaya Scodelario: 10/10

It is not a Pirates movie if there is not a strong female lead. Keira Knightley set the bar impossibly high during the first three movies, and it is to my understanding that almost everyone who has seen On Stranger Tides felt that Penelope Cruz’s performance was lacklustre at best. So Miss Scodelario had some shoes to fill. People were sceptical after Cruz’s performance and no one was sure if she could bring a presence to the movie that Keira Knightley always managed to. However, the former Skins actress’s performance was understated, yet witty. Her character brought a breath of fresh air to the franchise, reflecting issues surrounding women at the time. Her “English Rose” look and quickness of tongue harks back to the likes of Elizabeth Swan in The Curse of The Black Pearl. The portrayal of Carina Smith was a triumph for the young actress and a relief for the fans who were let down by her predecessor.

2.How did they find Orlando Bloom’s Son?

There is nothing I enjoy more than good casting. It is the actors that make a movie, and the casting of Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner is potentially the best I have seen since Luke Evans was cast as Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The similarity between Thwaites and his on-screen Father Bloom is uncanny. But it is not only the looks that appear similar, the younger Turner even appears to have similar character traits and mannerisms as his Father, reminding the audience of a young Will Turner in the first movie in the series. The combination of Thwaites and Scodelario pays tribute to Elizabeth and Will in the first movie.

3. Monsters and Dead Men

This franchise has always known how to handle their special effects. From the dead men in The Curse of the Black Pearl, to the tentacles on the face of Davy Jones. However, Dead Men Tell No Tales displays a particularly good use of special effects. From the unsightly faces of Salazar’s crew (and sharks) to the growth of the Black Pearl, Disney has managed to effortlessly include elements of modern technology, without it feeling as though it is forced.

4. Barbosa, Oh Barbosa.

Although many claim that Johnny Depp carries the series (which I do not wholly deny), I feel that Geoffrey Rush brings a charm and an element of loveable villain that would leave the movies very lacking were it to be removed. Rush’s continuously impressive performances in all of the Pirates movies makes him a kind of enigma in the series. Barbosa is a hard character to read, we are unsure as to whether he is a hero or a villain after the first movie and his love/hate relationship with Jack is both confusing and compelling. However, Rush brought something new to his performance in Dead Men Tell No Tales. We see a new side to Barbosa, a personal, vulnerable side that has never been shown before. I feel it was important for Disney to do this so that his plot could end with Barbosa being a fully rounded character. This showcase of emotion also allowed him to take on the role of the tragic hero, one that is suited both to the actor and the character. In the end, Barbosa will always be one of my favourite characters from the franchise, now more so than before.

5. Jack is still the comic.

One thing that has made the franchise such a success is its humour. The effortless comedy achieved through the combination of fantastic writers and the natural comedic talent of the actors remains a constant through the series, becoming a key characteristic. The fifth instalment of the series did not disappoint, with many moments of deep belly laughter, including the bank scene at the beginning of the film, the exchange between Scodelario and Depp followed by the instantly classic guillotine scene, and of course the mention of another of Jack’s endless relatives who share his name. Dead Men Tell No Tales managed, once again, to fuse various genres together, to create a movie that captures the audience and immersed them in the story.

6. Wanna-be Calypso

Now, I am all for witches and other supes; but I fear that the inclusion of the witch in this film didn’t do it for me. After an awe inspiring performance by Naomi Harris as Tia Dama, any witch that came after her had to pack a punch. However, the unnamed tattooed woman who appeared in this film seemed forced and out of place. It appeared that she was used as a plot device rather than an actual character, to set Barbosa on his track. I feel that the use of a different character would have worked better, as the rat throwing, raspy voiced woman appeared to fall a little flat.

7. Why does the UK always get involved?

I love my country, but we really should have stayed out of this one. With Jack Davenport (James Norrington) and Tom Hollander (Cutler Beckett) playing such vital roles in previous movies under the East India Trading Company, the inclusion of the British on the sea in Dead Men Tell No Tales seemed a little pointless. Previous captains of the East India Trading Company have been fully developed characters, with different facets and backstories. However, Scarfield fails to be such a character, falling short in comparison to the formidable Salazar. Their involvement in the plot on-land worked well. However, when they travelled to sea in pursuit of the trident themselves, their involvement became redundant. Potentially the best part of the plot, concerning the East India Trading Company, was when they were swallowed up by Salazar’s fleet.

8. The Queen is back!

It cannot be denied that Keira Knightley is the Queen of Pirates of the Caribbean. One of the reasons why On Stranger Tides fell so flat for so many was her lack of involvement. Without Knightley, the series would not have been nearly as successful as it is. I was not expecting a cameo from Knightley, however a part of me hoped. When she ran over the hill, I could not believe it. I was shocked and overjoyed at the same time. It was heartwarming to see her back in her period costume, as Elizabeth Swan. It added a symmetry to the movie, with Carina Smyth and Henry Turner representing the younger generation of Elizabeth and Will.

9. Always stay to the end of the credits.

It wasn’t until my family and I had left the credits rolling on At World’s End that we realized that Disney had taken a page out of Marvel’s book and added a post-credits scene to all of the Pirates movies and Dead Men Tell No Tales was no different. However, this scene left me feeling less excited and more confused. The reintroduction of Davy Jones to the plot poses questions that do not have easy answers. Is Davy Jones manning the Flying Dutchman once again? Has he been brought back because Will’s curse has been broken? How is he alive if his heart was stabbed by Will? These are questions that Disney shall no-doubt answer in due time. But it does pose the exciting question: are we going to see more Bill Nighy?

10. Is this the end?

Despite the tantalizing teaser at the end of the credits, I cannot help but feel that the series has come to an end. The curses have been broken, Will has managed to reunite with Elizabeth, Barbosa has met a heroic end and Jack seems very much satisfied with his lot. There seemed a kind of finality in the final scene, watching Jack sail off into the distance. And if the most precious treasure in the sea has been found, what else could they go in search of? How does it get better than that? If the series is to be continued, I predict that the movies to follow will not be about a great search for treasure, but rather a conflict between Jack and one of his many foes, who might have been freed from a curse in this movie. One thing for certain is that Jack will never run out of enemies to flee from and if the Davy Jones plotline is followed, then that means that we would have the old cast returning e.g. Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom and Kevin McNally. But also the new cast e.g. Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites. As a lover of the movies, I hope that we are in store for a kind of final showdown, between Davy Jones and well, everyone else. But I also understand that without Barbosa, whatever movies that Disney do come out with will not quite be the same. Whatever is to come, I look forward to seeing it.

After six years of waiting, I feel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was worth the wait. Disney made a massive comeback from On Stranger Tides, which to many lacked the charm indicative of the series. This movie took the franchise back to its roots, bringing the humour and brilliant characterisation that we saw in The Curse of the Black Pearl. I would say that this movie is one of my favourites that I have seen this year and I shall definitely be purchasing it on DVD when it is released.

So tell me, what did you think?

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5 Comments

  1. Elements of the review are factually incorrect. On stranger tides was by no means considered a flop. Your writing tone is inconsistent and you use a poor choice of words. Learning how to write a review or not labelling this as a review would be good. It’s a shame because your book reviews are normally of an excellent standard

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  2. I have taken on your comments and made adjustments. However, I stand by my belief that this review follows the structure of my book reviews, that you have mentioned. The comment about “On Stranger Tides” is based on an opinion that is shared by many, that the movie did not have the charm of the previous three films. I do not recognise your comment about my education not being effective, and I am sorry if you did not enjoy this review. I hope that you shall be back for my next book review.

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  3. Awesome write up. I haven’t spoken to you for quite sometime because of my mistakes, but to you writing like this shows how much you have grown since the last time we spoke. You are intelligent and amazing at what you do and will go on to have an amazing career. If you ever wanna talk, I would love to have a chance to catch up

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