To say that I was disappointed by the latest entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean series would be quite the understatement.
Now, before I get into my issues with the movie and get all spoilery on you I want to preface with this: I would not discourage you from going to see this movie if you’re a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean. If you’ve seen all the movies and you really like the series, go see it and come to your own conclusions. I personally liked On Stranger Tides in spite of it not being particularly great while many others hated it so just because I did not like Dead Men Tell No Tales, that doesn’t mean that you won’t like it yourself. You should always form your own opinions on these sorts of things.
Now let’s get into my takeaways from the movie. I’m going to be hitting on my major gripes with the film so there are going to be lots of spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and you don’t want to be spoiled, turn back now.
– Jack Sparrow was a completely useless character in this movie. He did nothing but stumble around drunk contributing absolutely nothing to the film other than being Jack Sparrow. Everything that’s great about Jack Sparrow was completely absent from the movie (outside of a decent five minute flashback). They turned one of the most iconic pirate characters of all time into a pretty terrible character.
– The team of Jack, Henry and Carina feels completely hollow. Obviously they were trying to replace Will and Elizabeth here but it just didn’t work. There was so much going on in this movie and it never really slowed down to take a breath and try to develop Henry or Carina. We knew who Henry was and they told us who Carina was; that was about it. On top of that, they didn’t really do anything to develop a relationship between those characters and Jack; which made Salazar fighting Jack at the end via a possessed Henry at the end rather pointless. Both Henry and Carina were just… there.
– The bank robbery at the beginning of the movie was ridiculous. Jack and his crew are stealing money from a bank? Ok, that makes for a neat little chase scene at the beginning of the movie. Jack and his crew are dragging the entire bank through the city with them trying to escape? I know it’s a movie, but I can only suspend my disbelief to a point. Dragging an entire building through a city with horses was so asinine that I immediately knew the movie was in trouble.
– The whole guillotine scenario when Jack and Carina were being saved from their executions was stupid. Again, the whole suspension of disbelief having limits thing. It wasn’t funny (in fact, just about none of the humor in this movie was) and knowing full well that Jack’s head obviously wasn’t going to be chopped off made it annoying.
– So for some reason, Jack’s compass was the crucial component to Salazar’s curse. Aside from that just feeling weird, they completely ditched any form of continuity and retconned everything we know about the compass. In Dead Man’s Chest, we learned that Jack acquired the compass from Tia Dalma. In Dead Men Tell No Tales, Jack was handed the compass from a dying captain. On top of that, the entire plot kicks off because Jack “betrays” the compass by giving it away… which is something he has done numerous times in past movies. Continuity was literally thrown right out the window.
– The whole plot felt rushed; nobody beat anybody anywhere and there was no time for anything to develop. Barbossa goes to find Salazar, then they find Jack within a day and then they all travel to the Trident. Then when the British wanted to get involved they popped right in like they had a GPS tracker on the ships. Everybody might as well have just held hands and skipped all the way to Carina’s island together.
– How about that stupid, completely useless wedding scene that did absolutely nothing other than waste the time of anyone sitting in the theater watching this movie?
– The much anticipated return of the Black Pearl was nice. Seeing the Pearl rise from the ocean, with a little humor involved, was great after it got locked away by Blackbeard. But the whole reason for releasing the Pearl was because they needed to outrun Salazar to find the Trident and as soon as they released it, Salazar immediately catches up to the Pearl and rams into it like it’s no big deal. The whole point of the Black Pearl is that it’s the fastest ship in the ocean and that they’re racing for the Trident but apparently these guys just decided to make up their own rules for this movie.
– Jack literally jumped a shark.
– Armando Salazar and his crew of ghost pirates are cool villains but their curse feels way too similar to the curse in the first film. The movie almost feels like a mediocre rehash of the first film in spots. They’re better villains than Blackbeard’s crew, not that that’s saying much.
– Since we’re on the topic of villains, what was the point of even involving the British in this movie? In earlier movies, we had characters like Norrington, Mercer and Beckett; defined villains who had an identity and at least had a notable role in the movies. In Dead Men Tell No Tales, we just have some generic British dude blindly leading a group of redcoats that got wiped out the second they arrived on scene, serving zero purpose to the story.
– As it relates to the battles in general, they all felt mushed together. Each Pirates of the Caribbean movie has notable battles between the different parties involved and they’re distinct. There were three or four “battles” in Dead Men Tell No Tales but it feels like they all ran into each other. There was no real distinction made between the sides fighting and it was really more about CGI/editing than actual fighting. There was one fight in particular that I remember asking myself who was fighting who because I couldn’t even tell the difference. Even the climactic event, the battle for Poseidon’s Trident, didn’t feel like a distinct battle; it was two people fighting over a water gun.
– Speaking of Poseidon’s Trident, what a blown opportunity. The movie spends two hours telling you about all of these different curses and how each person could use the Trident for a different purpose, presenting an interesting question of which curse the Trident is going to be used against. Then it immediately takes the easy route and just eliminates them all because Henry takes a sword and chops the Trident in half because it’s nothing more than a piece of driftwood sitting in the ocean. All the interesting angles to Poseidon’s Trident just went poof.
– The whole thing with Barbossa being Carina’s father felt sort of weird or forced to me. It just didn’t feel like it was a storyline that was worthwhile or made sense. It made for what should have been a touching sacrifice for Barbossa but that doesn’t really work when the guy’s already died like 17 times in these movies. It also made the movie a bit too convenient in the sense that literally every character involved is tied to each other in some sort of way. The daughter of Barbossa just happened to end up with Jack, Henry, Barbossa and the rest of the main characters completely by chance. Why couldn’t Carina have just been some random girl?
– It feels like whoever was put in charge of the music in this movie said “oh my god, I get to use that badass Pirates of the Caribbean music” and just littered it everywhere. I don’t recall any piece of music that wasn’t from earlier in the series and it felt like the movie just kept replaying the same music over and over again. I love that music, but Dead Men Tell No Tales found a way to sort of ruin it.
– Will was completely underutilized in this film. Will is now the captain of the Flying Dutchman and he was an awesome character. With his son now involved in Jack’s adventures, there was such a great opportunity to use him and they didn’t. I was waiting during the entire final battle for the Dutchman to emerge and wipe through Salazar’s crew and it never happened. Will was nothing more than a useless cameo in Dead Men Tell No Tales and it sucked.
– The post-credits scene was the best scene in the entire movie. Davy Jones was an awesome villain and I would love to see him make a return. If they can bring Jones back without it being too ridiculous then there’s potential there for a good movie. Seeing his shadow as the door opened into Will and Elizabeth’s bedroom was the only time that I actually sat up in the theater from excitement.
– This series is getting a sixth movie and I thought this was supposed to be part one of a two part story. It really felt like the movie was at least setting itself up for a great finale. Henry was captured by Salazar, Jack’s crew was en route to Poseidon’s Trident and Will was waiting in the wings with the Dutchman… and then they wrapped the entire story up in like fifteen minutes. I just don’t get what the rush was. I could have lived with this movie being bad if it set up a great finale but it didn’t do that.
I am genuinely disappointed in Dead Men Tell No Tales. I love this series to death and I seriously enjoy watching these movies. Hell, when I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean in theaters when it released in 2003, I went back to my friend’s house after and we pretended to be pirates sword fighting in his sprinklers. This is a classic series with passionate fans and a lot of potential. I can live with a bad movie but it absolutely kills me that I didn’t even get an ounce of enjoyment out of this movie. When I started writing this blog, I actually had to go back and turn everything I wrote into bullet points because I was writing too much. There’s just so much wrong with this movie and it sucks. Dead Men Tell No Tales was terrible and they completely missed the mark here. I’m just praying that the series finishes strong with the next movie.