Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

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Critic Consensus: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales proves that neither a change in directors nor an undead Javier Bardem is enough to drain this sinking franchise's murky bilge.

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Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales." The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil's Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea-notably Jack. Jack's only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced.

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Cast

Johnny Depp
as Capt. Jack Sparrow
Orlando Bloom
as Will Turner
Kaya Scodelario
as Carina Smyth
Javier Bardem
as Capt. Salazar
Geoffrey Rush
as Barbossa
David Wenham
as Scarfield
Mahesh Jadu
as Spanish Soldier
Adam Brown
as Cremble
Goran D. Kleut
as Pirate Broom
Zoe Ventoura
as Mayor's Wife
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News & Interviews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Critic Reviews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

All Critics (209) | Top Critics (38)

The subtitle of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie is "Dead Men Tell No Tales." The moral of the movie, alas, is that the same cannot be said of dead franchises.

June 2, 2017 | Full Review…

If being dull, gruesome and obnoxiously loud weren't enough, Dead Men Tell No Tales makes sure to get in a blast of sexism, too.

May 30, 2017 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

The bounty of bawdy bits feel borrowed from Benny Hill ("No woman's ever handled my Herschel before!" says a stunned telescope operator), while the slapstick violence skews toward the Three Stooges.

May 26, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

Is this really only the fifth entry in the Pirates film franchise? It feels like the 50th. Except for Javier Bardem, who brings a dollop of fresh mischief to this paycheck party, Dead Men has all the flavor of rotting leftovers.

May 26, 2017 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg work up a stormy sea-parting finale that is better than anything in The Ten Commandments. Again, the trick to enjoying this film is to expect nothing.

May 26, 2017 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

I daresay it is the very best fourth sequel ever made to a movie based on a 50-year-old theme park ride.

May 26, 2017 | Full Review…
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Audience Reviews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Surely an improvement over PotC4, the 5th installment of the franchise tries to recreate the fun and extravagant set pieces of the original trilogy and pays respect to the original lore. Unfortunately recreating the sense of grandeur that was the trilogy epic gets lost in this bloated imitation. An underwhelming portrayal of Jack's origin story, his so-called greatest fear (Cpt. Salazar) and wrapping up the Turner/Swan epic all deserved so much better. The narrative carries itself like another disconnected side-story akin to "On Stranger Tides" but this time appears to loosely maintain relevance by plugging in cheap references to the past. Cheap, careless references and impromptu reveals that create plotholes and forced drama simply to justify newcomers Henry & Carina, whom on there own are about as interesting as another Pirate curse, skeleton, monster, thing. PotC5 may be a step back in the right direction for the franchise but still ends up being a forgery undeserving of the name.

Drake Tsui
Drake Tsui

Super Reviewer

In my personal opinion, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was a very boring film that didn't need to see the light of day. When it was announced that a fifth film would be on its way, there was absolutely no sense of joy lurking through me, as I thought the franchise had been long past its stay. After my viewing of this newest instalment, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, I can whole-heartedly say that there's a reason for this film to exist. I'm not just saying that for the sake of having the franchise to have a better ending than the previous film and I'm definitely not going to let the conclusion of this film cloud my judgement on what the overall film presents, but this is a decent entry in the franchise that has hit some very choppy waters over the years. As a conclusion to this franchise, here is why this film does its job well. While still remaining connected through character relations, this is a very isolated story from the first four films. That being said, the fourth instalment did just that, but chose to leave out further connection to the other films. This film has a much more personal story, as Jack Sparrow has to face his demons from the past. Flashing back to show that he has a connection to the death and revenge plot of Captain Salazar, this only further deepens the plot. The core premise follows a few new faces on the hunt for both Jack Sparrow and Poseidon's trident. Learning new things about each and every character along the way, this is a picture that tries to dazzle and wraps things up all at once, and it succeeds in just that, for the most part. The visuals throughout this franchise have always been magnificent to look at. The practical sets of the ships and the mixture of CGI/practical effects was always impressive. Although noticeable at times for various reasons, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is absolutely no exception to that notion. From the visual effects on Captain Salazar (which were definitely questionable throughout the trailers) are far more rich in 3D on the big screen, and the action sequences are all top-notch as usual. There is quite a bit of action here, keeping the pace from feeling sluggish. Being the shortest entry in the franchise surely helped, but I never truly found myself bored. I feel like I've been praising this film quite a bit, but the first half is extremely sloppy to say the least. For the entire first act of this film, I felt as though there was far too much going on. Too many new characters were being set up, along with a villain plot, as well as getting to know what Jack Sparrow and his crew have been up to this entire time. There was so much of a re-introduction to everything that the film suffered in terms of storytelling. The premise of this film itself is solid, but the execution is all over the place and there are far too many times when it feels like it just wants to wrap up loose ends from the previous instalments. In order to make fans happy, there are quite a few cameos and a conclusion that will surely satisfy the die-hard fans. I quite enjoyed the send-off this film receives and for that reason alone I will be giving it a positive grade. In the end, when I look back on the franchise, this instalment will still not be able to be talked as highly about as the original, but I will forever remember the climax for being possibly the best in the entire franchise. There is something very intriguing and unique about the aspects introduced in the third act and the conclusion fits the tone of the original movie very well. Sadly, this film is bogged down with too many ties to previous stories or connections to previous films. There were a few times when I wished this film was a little more on its own than than what the final product presented me, but I was satisfied enough to give it a recommendation. This won't win anyone over, but if you are a fan of the first couple and agree that it has gone downhill since then, I believe you will enjoy the final act of this movie very much. For a franchise that seemed to have had its last day over two films ago, this was a pretty enjoyable sequel, which is a lot more than I thought I'd be saying.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

½

Rest assured fans, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a definite improvement over its waterlogged 2011 predecessor, but I can't help feeling like the magic of this franchise, and even the high spirits of the immediate sequels, has been squelched. It's a multi billion-dollar franchise born from a theme park ride and now I think I'm ready for that ride to come to an end. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is once again in the middle of some high seas hijinks. Everyone is on a collision course with the world's most infamous, swishy, and soused pirate. The ghostly Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his undead crew are looking for a release from their curse and of course vengeance against Sparrow, and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is their key to reaching their target. Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner, is looking to retrieve the mystical Trident to erase all nautical curses, thus freeing his father's indentured servitude aboard the Flying Dutchman. Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) is looking to discover the whereabouts of her father via clues tied into astronomy. All the parties are fighting to be the first to discover the location of the Trident and get what they feel is deserved. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has some advantages that are worth discussing before attention turns to what's wrong with the franchise as a whole. Unlike Rob Marshall, directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) understand how to expressly direct action sequences. They have a strong sense of visuals and know how to hit some majestic big screen imagery, whether it's a see-through silhouette of a zombie shark, or Salazar's ship splaying like a retracting ribcage, or a runaway bank heist with a literal runaway building. There's a terrific scene of visual comedy and action when Sparrow is trapped in a spinning guillotine, with the blade coming perilously close only to fall away from gravity and then repeat the process. That was a moment that made me think of the original 2003 film's comic inventiveness. Instead of just having cool ideas and concepts (carnivorous mermaids, a psychically controlled ship), Pirates 5 at least puts them to better effect. It feels like greater care has been put into meaningfully incorporating the elements of the story, though there are still noticeable shortcomings. I loved the look of Bardem's villain and the CGI texture that made him seem like he was underwater. It added an unsettling dreamlike quality. Jack Sparrow is thankfully once again a supporting character. There are also several other characters that are worthy of our attention, plus the welcomed return of Barbossa. The movie comes together quite well for an extravagant final set-piece that reasonably serves as an emotional climax. For the last couple days since my screening, I've been turning over in my head reasons why the Pirates sequels, especially of late, have felt so removed from the original film and even the lesser sequels from 2006 and 2007. I think I have deduced the three essential missing ingredients: clarity, urgency, and characters. The first three Pirates films were gloriously complicated and convoluted, a series of spinning plotlines that weaved in and out, intertwined with conspiracy, collusion, and reversals. They're overly plotted affairs, and eventually the third films succumbs to the pitfalls of convolution. However, something readily apparent in those movies was a sense of clarity in the individual scenes. Perhaps the overall picture was murky but in the moment you knew what needed to happen, which characters had opposing goals, and what those conflicts were. It's those opposing goals that provide much of the enjoyable confrontations and complications in the film. Take for instance the first meeting with Jack Sparrow and Will Turner in the blacksmith's shop. Jack is looking to free himself of his shackles and escape. Will is looking to capture Jack, for his believed assault on Elizabeth, and he's also looking to prove himself as a swordsman. One of them wants to leave and one of them wants to delay that leave. It's clear. The scene plays out as the characters clash but we, the audience, know the needs of the scene, and it allows each to reveal their character through action. The majority of the first three films follow this edict. The allegiances are all in conflict: Barbossa wants to alleviate his curse, Jack wants vengeance and to regain his ship, Will wants to rescue Elizabeth, and none of them trust the other. While the dynamics are complicated they are built upon classic storytelling devices of conflict/opposing goals and there's a genuine clarity in the micro. You know what the characters need scene-to-scene and why they are in conflict and what those goals are. In Pirates 5, the goals are too vague or overly generalized, and from scene-to-scene there's little internal logic established for the actions to have significance. The next missing element is urgency, which is a natural byproduct of clarity. If you don't know what your characters are doing or what their goals are then it's hard to maintain a sense of urgency. The stakes of this franchise have felt a bit wishy washy after the culmination of 2007's At World's End. Before, the characters felt like they had something to lose, something that might not be accomplished. Look at the first Pirates film and you see that those goals are being accomplished poorly. There are complications and unexpected detours, but the stakes felt real because there were ongoing challenges. I think the absolving of stakes in the franchise has gone directly hand-in-hand with the series becoming more jokey. Once characters become cartoons the sense of danger dissipates and then anything can become lazily excusable. There is no recognition of an over-the-top anymore, which then makes the characters feel limitless. That's not good when they're supposed to be going against supernatural villains who present their own special powers. In Pirates 5, the characters bumble through every sort of scenario, and while they may not be in control at the moment, you never really fear for them. It's a safe series of chases and escapes like a Saturday morning cartoon you know will merely reset its characters back to their starting positions by the next adventure. It feels weightless, which is shocking considering the Macguffin everyone is after eliminates all known curses. Finally, with the series becoming jokier, it's become more of the Jack Sparrow Show to its overall detriment. Maybe it's too much of a good thing, or maybe it's a latent realization that Sparrow was never the main character of the original trilogy, but Depp's iconic figure has simply lost some of his luster. It feels like Depp is on sashay autopilot. He's still a charming rogue but it's become drastically obvious that he needs supporting characters that can stand on their own to serve as foils. He's a character that leaps off the screen; however, if he's our only focus, then his act starts to curdle into schtick. There are sequences that only serve to deliver misapplied comedy, like a beachside wedding where Jack is strong-armed into marrying an ugly woman. Jack should not be the lead character but he also still needs to be a character with a sufficient storyline and arc, which has not happened since At World's End. He's become the Halloween costume of Captain Jack Sparrow, content to coast on audience good will repeating the same act and delivering the same punchlines. Likewise, the characters supporting Jack Sparrow need their own individually compelling stories and motivations to alleviate some of the pressure. Fortunately, one of the more noticeable improvements with Pirates 5 is that there are some interesting supporting characters, chiefly Scodelario (The Maze Runner). She could have been a discount version of Keria Knightley, much in the same way that Thwaits (The Giver) is so bland he comes across as a discount Orlando Bloom. While she follows the same feisty, independent-woman-ahead-of-her-time model, she manages to separate with her own identity, a woman who loves science, pushes against authority, and is desperate to discover the whereabouts of her father. Her discovery of her lineage provides the film with an unanticipated degree of emotion. She's a fun character who can provide a rich, exasperated sense of irony as a learned woman constantly being mistaken for a witch, and then when called upon, she provides the heart of the story with her family drama. Likewise, Barbossa has always been one of the series highlights and in particular the MVP of On Stranger Tides. As he's waffled between friend and foe, Rush has always found a way to make him worthy of our attention. He gets what I'll call the Yondo treatment in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (supporting character elevated into force that can legitimately elicit audience emotion). He comes into the film late but he dominates the second half. Pirates 5 also has a superior villain to On Stranger Tides. Javier Bardem (Skyfall) eats up every second as his ghostly captain and his enjoyment is infectious. He's weird and creepy and just the right kind of crazy to make him even more dangerous. Also worth noting is a flashback scene that explores the personal connections between Sparrow and Salazar, though Salazar's back-story is still rather weak even with the mysterious Caribbean volcanic lava pits. The sequence is noticeable for the fact that it employs the de-aging CGI technology on Depp, making him look like a plasticized version of himself circa... Edward Scissorhands? It's a neat trick and it seems like nobody does the de-aging effect better than Disney at this point (Michael Douglas in Ant-Man, Robert Downey Jr. in Civil War). But then the movie keeps featuring the effect, showcasing it in ill-advised close-ups, and the magic starts to fade and we're reminded of its fakeness. It's a moment that inadvertently sums up the later Pirates sequels: a neat trick undone by sloppy repetition and a lack of self-control. If you're a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, by all means you'll find enough to satisfy your appetite with the fifth installment. At this point audience expectations have become entrenched, which is one of the reasons why Jack Sparrow has morphed into a Looney Tunes cartoon rather than a fleshed-out comic character with depths of danger. I don't regret seeing the latest Pirates film but I would also shed few tears if this were the last time we visit this universe. The recent sequels leave the inescapable impression of listless fan fiction. They're trying to recapture the magic formula of the original but missing the crucial elements that made a movie about drunken pirates and zombies a zeitgeist-harnessing, culture-defining classic. The sequels have lacked consistently effective clarity, urgency, and characterization to register as anything but generally incomprehensible, vacant, disposable mass entertainment. It's become product, and maybe that was inevitable for what once felt like something so different and subversive, especially coming from the Mouse House. Age softens all franchises and a safe sense of routine creeps in. They start becoming imitations of themselves and then imitations of the imitations. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a fitfully entertaining venture that saves its best stuff for last, has some solid supporting turns, and decent fantasy-horror visuals. It's also a reminder of what has been lost and, unless the franchise changes course, will continue to be lost. Nate's Grade: B-

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

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