Warning: this review contains spoilers
When Disney announced that they were releasing another “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, I have to admit that I had my doubts that it would turn out decent. I acknowledge that everyone’s opinion is not the same as mine when it comes to the sequels, but I disliked how they were split up.
I can stomach the second movie, but I truly lose interest by the third and fall asleep despite many valiant attempts to stay awake and how many times I’ve tried to give it a chance.
Dead Men Tell No Tales opened with a scene in the dark with a young boy who has curly hair falling over his dark eyes who scampered from his room. In his room he had a map which read “Father’s Curse,” which gave a pretty good idea of what the plot may be about. Henry snatches a relic and heads onboard “The Flying Dutchman” where the audience finds out that Will Turner is his father.
Will tells Henry that there is no place on the ship for him. After a shattering ocean quake, they get separated, but Henry takes his father’s word as a challenge and vows he will find a way to free him.
Still doubting the movie, I exercised my criticism for how it would live up to expectations in regards to my initial impression. It ended up being a mixture of disappointment and surprise.
The theme was more consistent and bounced off the first movie which I took as the characters discovering who they were. At the same time, since I was introduced to Henry in the first scene, I believed that the story would mainly be about him, but other characters soon took priority. The plot revolves around Will and Carina’s search, but still jumps around as Captain Jack Sparrow comes into the picture and learns an enemy, Captain Salazar, has returned from the dead and plans to include Sparrow in the curse.
The audience is soon introduced to Carina; who society considers evil because she is a witch. She studies the stars with intention of finding her father like Henry. Her father left her a diary with a constellation engraved on it and where she believed she would find him. Like in the first movie, British soldiers chase after her when she escapes from her hanging after Henry distracts the crowd. The plot with Carina and Henry proved a perfect balance because of their common goal to find their fathers and I wished their plot would have expanded more.
Who Carina later discovers as her father is shocking but a nice character reveal – Captain Hector Barbossa himself. The most touching and heart-wrenching part in the movie is a crosscut during the final battle when Carina is desperately trying to pull Barbossa up and is looking down at him when she spies the constellation tattooed on his arm. She asks him, “What am I to you?” and he responds, “Treasure!” just before he cannot hang on any more and let’s go.
To sum up my review, the movie helped me relive the old memories and reminders in why the first “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” grew as a fast favorite. I appreciated the reappearance of the two British commodores, who gained some weight and looked older in contrast to the previous movies. I wished I would have seen them more since they provide adequate comedy relief and add spice to Pirates of the Caribbean overall. I also thought the reunion between Elizabeth and Will was too short-lived and that they needed more development in the movie as well.
Instead “Dead Men Tell No Tales” reintroduced Captain Jack Sparrow, my favorite, because he stays true to himself. Although as usual, he fabricates lies so he manipulates the other characters for his own gain. What has most appealed to me about him is his pursuit for freedom. For him that means maintaining a single status and enjoying the simple pleasures around him, including women and rum. But beneath the surface, it always has been more than that for him. It is being allowed the means to have new adventures and to have his own ship and be in charge despite his shortcomings.
I especially loved the scene at the end when Captain Jack Sparrow’s crew readies itself to take off again and he takes control at the wheel. He runs his hand it as the sun sets after he exclaimed, “What a revolting sight!” when William Turner and Elizabeth Swann and Henry Turner and Carina indulge in a romantic reunion near the nostalgic bell tower from The Curse of the Black Pearl. Just like in the first movie, Captain Jack Sparrow refused to compromise who he was.
Because it is “Pirates of the Caribbean”, I will definitely add “Dead Men Tell No Tales” to my collection, despite the devastating disappointment from the other movies. Still, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is the best since “The Curse of the Black Pearl”.