POTC: Dead Men Tell No Tales Spoiler Review

The Good:

  • It’s much better than At Worlds End
  • Javier Bardem lights up the screen as Captain Salazar

The Bad:

  • Johnny Depp’s performance as Captain Jack Sparrow brings down the entire movie.
  • The writing is clunky and provides pointless gags that fall flat.
  • This is unlikely to be the final Pirates movie.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review

It’s telling when you walk out of a movie and say, “At least it’s not the worst in the series.” Yet that is where I was after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. In our spoiler review I talk about how this movie could have been much better if the script went through one more round of revisions. (Listen to the full spoiler review below).

Actually, it may not have been the script alone that doomed the movie. From Johnny Depp’s blatant “phoning-it-in” performance to a few questionable visual effects, it’s hard to think that there is a Pirates movie that is actually worse than this. (There is. It’s called At World’s End).

But before I go any further with this review, I have to give a caveat. Since watching the movie, I have realized that Disney didn’t really make this movie for me. In fact, if you are reading this in the United States, Disney didn’t really make this movie for you either.

Pirates of the Caribbean is Not Primarily For US Audiences

Let’s get one thing clear: Disney is no longer making Pirates of the Caribbean movies for US audiences. The latest installment in the franchise has the second lowest opening of the Pirates movies in the US with $62 million over three days. But it also has the third largest opening for a Disney film in China, with $67 million.

With the US and China alone, Disney just posted a $129 million weekend on a film with an estimated budget of $230 million. Even though Disney claimed that this was the final movie, where be another film on the horizon mateys. They’ve got a $5.5 billion investment in Shanghai to take care of and it has an entire land dedicated to pirates. I’m sure the filmmakers made a few choices specifically aimed at capturing a Chinese audience and those decisions may be lost on US viewers.

Captain Jack Sparrow Should Retire

The biggest example of this is the revival of Johnny Depp’s character, Captain Jack Sparrow. The franchise has taken Sparrow from a calculating, ruthless pirate down to a mindless oaf who drinks too much Rum. It doesn’t help the Johnny Depp has had several off-screen issues that appear to be affecting his on-screen performance. There were several times his costars appear visually upset with him at inappropriate times.

That said, Captain Jack is very popular in China. He has his own area in Treasure Cove in Shanghai Disneyland. It isn’t hard to see why Disney included him in the latest film, even though it appears that US audiences have grown tired of his antics. 

Javier Bardem Saves The Film

If Captain Jack threatens to sink the entire film, Captain Salazar rescues it from Davey Jones’ Locker. Played by Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem, Salazar is one of the best villains to take form in the Pirates franchise. His rage and pain are evident and even when he is simply narrating action, you are compelled by his voice. Bardem captures your attention and refuses to relinquish until he leaves the screen. No one ever really dies in a Pirates film, so I hope he makes his way back into the franchise at some point.

Final Rating: 7/10

In the end, the movie suffers from a script that has too many loose ends and gags that insult the viewer’s intelligence. There is the opening sequence where six horses pull an entire building through town; the constant refrain to not betray a compass without explaining what that means nor what happens if you do; the wedding scene that comes out of nowhere with characters who appear and disappear with no consequence; and on and on. I’d love to see Disney move on from this franchise, but that won’t happen. As long as they are still getting their plunder, they will continue to have pirates set sail.