Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Captain Jack Sparrow is older and …
Well, let's just say he's older. This perpetually tipsy ne're-do-well is still struggling with pretty much the same issues he always has. Behind that wobbly swagger and semi-charming gold-toothed grin is a pirate captain who has a hard time accomplishing … anything.
Jack keeps failing to find his scruffy crew even a single gold doubloon. And his beloved galleon, the Black Pearl, has been magically shrunken down to a little skiff in a bottle that he carries around in his coat pocket. In truth, it's really a stretch to call him a captain at all.
But there's one thing no one can doubt: Jack has made a lot of enemies. And one of them—a certain zombified Captain Armando Salazar—is driving his putrefying crew of cursed sailors to find and keelhaul this captain named Sparrow.
As legend has it, many years ago a fresh-faced Jack tricked the pirate-hunting Salazar into sailing into the Devil's Triangle. There, he and his crew went down and became ensnared in a horrible eternal torment: Their dead skin may dissolve and their ship may crumble to moldering rot, but they live on and on.
Now, however, Salazar has been miraculously set free from the Triangle's confines. And he's slowly scouring the seas, destroying ships and always leaving one survivor to spread the message that he and his dead crew are coming.
They're coming for Captain Jack Sparrow.
How do you actually stop a cursed band of murderers who want your heart on a pike? Well, that's a tough one. It involves something called the Trident of Poseidon—a magical object that's rumored to control all the powers of the ocean. Of course, it's also rumored to be unfindable. In fact, the map that might lead someone to said undiscoverable treasure is rumored to be something no man can ever read.
That's a lot of rumored dead ends. But fear not, Jack Sparrow fans: Henry Turner (son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann) has been seeking the Trident his whole life. And he's found an astronomy-focused map-reader named Carina who's seeking that treasure, too.
Together, Jack, Henry and Carina set off on a rollicking high-seas adventure that many will one day tell tales of …
… if, that is, Jack can stay sober, upright and in one piece long enough to actually survive it.
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Both Henry and Carina are desperately seeking to connect with their estranged fathers. Henry wants to break a curse that binds his dad; even as a boy he risks his life to do so. And the goal of freeing his father from that spiritual bondage continues to motivate him in adulthood. Orphaned Carina, for her part, devotes herself to her missing father's oceanic research as a way to connect with him. In both sets of parent-child relationships, we witness a degree of reconciliation and redemption, with sacrificial love on display along the way as well.
Pirate superstitions abound. They take shape in the form of several curses, including the one that traps Captain Salazar and his crew. Those sailors are all zombies of sorts, with rotting skin and crumbling parts. In other cases, decomposing victims just might have a lower jaw or a detached hand that floats in the air with a ghostlike semblance. These ghoulish sailors can run on the surface of the ocean. They also magically enliven decaying sharks that they dispatch to try and kill Jack.
Because she can read star charts, some people call Carina a witch. In fact, some British officials want to hang her for her abilities. Never mind that Carina isn't a witch. But there is another tattooed woman who claims to have a witch's power. Carina hits a priest in the face with her cell door while making an escape.
Elsewhere throughout the film, various magical happenings take place.
Carina wears a formfitting, low-cut dress. She strips down to her undergarments before diving into the water. (She's still mostly covered, though.) "I saw her ankles," Henry blusters at this point. To which, Jack retorts, "You'd have seen a lot more if you'd kept your cakehole shut."
Later, Carina and Henry kiss. Another married couple embraces and kisses as well. After Jack drunkenly staggers out of an opened safe, the wife of a local official appears behind him, giving the impression that they spent the night together.
Double entendre jokes reference a man's "cannon balls." And Carina's career as an "astronomer" and a "horologist" garners giggles as well.
Sword fights, impalings, gun blasts, pummeling fist fights and explosions are all commonplace throughout the film. Ships are ripped asunder by cannon balls and sharp rocks. And the open mouth-like bow of Captain Salazar's decrepit ship appears to "eat" opposing sea vessels—leaving them as smashed and flaming piles of floating refuse afterward.
Blood drips through the deck of a ship to the jail cells below, implying the amount of unseen slaughter happening above. A man's neck is viciously snapped. Henry gets hit in the mouth with a musket's stock. Jack is strapped into a guillotine, and he sees several severed heads in a basket below him. Carina has a hangman's noose tied around her neck. Splintery shrapnel is repeatedly sent flying, and bodies sink in the ocean.
A man drops from above and drives his sword into another person's back. Two combatants fall to their deaths from a great height.
Crude or Profane Language
We hear one exclamation each of "oh my god!" and "p-ss off." There's also a single use of the British crudity "bugger."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Jack appears to be almost always slightly inebriated. In one case he wakes from a drunken stupor. We only see him slug back a drink on one or two occasions, though. One scene takes place in a tavern and shows drinking locals.
Other Negative Elements
At one point Carina declares that she isn't "looking for trouble." "What a horrible way to live," Jack shoots back.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. And while that may be true, time away doesn't necessarily make the object of one's affection any … better. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is an excellent case in point.
It's been six years since we last saw Jack Sparrow wobble his way across a well-swabbed deck. And his return feels pretty hoist-the-main-sail familiar: A similar, darkly magical and deadly foe seeks his demise. Sailors predictably get cutlasses shoved through their gullets. We've got the same rambling, treasure-focused storyline. The same outrageously over-the-top, CGI-fueled action.
In fact, the only thing that gives this fifth pic in the series a truly fresh set of sea legs is the fact that it lands with a satisfying and solid ending. We see self-sacrificial bravery, teary family reunions and a hearty happily-ever-after for all.
Dead Men Tell No Tales may not evoke a hearty, "Yo ho ho!" like the first time you ever stood on this cinematic foredeck with the salt spray in your face. But it's not a walk down the gangplank either.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow; Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar; Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa; Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner; Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth; Orlando Bloom as Will Turner; Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann
Joachim Rønning ( ), Espen Sandberg ( )
Walt Disney Pictures
May 26, 2017