Questions and Observations from a Pirates of the Caribbean fan after watching ‘Dead Man Tell No Tales’


I offer insight and analysis into the next hit of Disney’s swashbuckling saga Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Men Tell No Tales.

  1. It generally moved quicker than most of the past films– The official run time for Dead Men was 2 hours and 33 minutes, which is actually the second-longest film of the franchise behind At World’s End (my least favorite film of the franchise and which seemed like it’d never end). Still, the action was engaging and easy to follow, captivating the audience’s attention which, for me, made it seem to go by fast. In the past, lengthy shots of ocean scenery and irrelevant background images have made the film drag on, but that was kept to a minimum in this film.
  2. The movie followed the plot line of past films- If you’re a fan of Jack Sparrow’s (Johnny Depp) random appearance on any Caribbean island (this time it’s St. Martin) narrow escapes, swindling of the powers that be, tolerable violence, overcoming the odds and acquiring a crew, following with conflict resolution with old friends and ultimately sticking to the bad guy, you’ll be happy with this installment of Pirates. It pretty much holds to form with all the other films.
  3. Jack’s banter is more witty and sexual that ever. It seems like the writers most definitely adjusted Jack’s dialogue to reach a more modern audience. From more sexual innuendos to a marijuana reference, Jack’s character usually doesn’t engage in this much banter. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times summed it up pretty well  in his review:  “Dead Men works well enough as a stand-alone, swashbuckling comedic spectacle, thanks to the terrific performances, some ingenious practical effects, impressive CGI and a steady diet of PG-13 dialogue peppered with not particularly sophisticated but (I have to admit) fairly funny sexual innuendo.”
  4. Don’t go expecting to see a lot of Kiera Knightley and/or Orlando Bloom- When I first heard that Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Kiera Knightley) were returning to the films, I expected them to be a big part of Jack’s adventure. Upon reading up before watching, I realized that their roles would be rather isingnifcant, and they were. Bloom shows up in the first and last scenes, but maybe has a minute and a half of dialogue. Kiera Knightley has literally none. That being said, it was good to see the Turner family reunited. It tugged on the sentimental heart strings of any Pirates fan who holds films 1-3 near and dear to their hearts.
  5. Bardem plays a good villain– Javier Bardem was excellent as Armando Salazar. Having seen his work in thrillers like No Country for Old Men, Sicario and Skyfall, I knew what to expect from his villainy. His mannerisms in these films are very believable and the audience definitely buys into the fact that he’s a dude to be feared. I also thought it made for an interesting dynamic in the Bardem residence given how Javier was casted for this film right after his spouse, Penelope Cruz, was cast as the main antagonist and Jack’s first legitimate love interest in the last film (Angelica in On Stranger Tides).
  6. I really find it hard to believe that’s the last that we’ll see of Barbossa–  Spoiler- Barbossa dies. However, we’ve already seen that in the first installment of the franchise, Curse of the Black Pearl, only for him to be brought back to life by Calypso in Dead Man’s Chest. Given the fact that Hector (Geoffrey Rush) has appeared in every single film, I thoroughly believe that he will make some kind of return for the rumored Pirates 6. Barbossa has proven to be a valuable asset to the story, no matter what side of Jack’s interests he finds himself on.
  7. The movie does a really good job filling in holes and tying everything together before what we can presume will be the last film of the franchise- The film offers more insight into Jack’s past than ever. First, it introduces the audience to Jack’s uncle for the first time, who was largely insignificant and didn’t do much for the storyline. More importantly, the film distinguished Jack’s initial defeat of Salazar as what established his legacy. Salazar states that Jack’s heckling from the Crow’s nest of his ship reminded him of a bird chirping, so seamen began to call him ‘Jack the Sparrow.’ Next, It depicts Jack’s quick-wit and outmaneuvering of Salazar as what won the favor of his crew. It also showed that he received the compass that doesn’t point North in this battle win Salazar, and after the defeat, his crew presents him with his hat, sword, beads, and many other intricacies that make Jack Sparrow. For the first time, the audience is offered insight into the life of Barbossa as well, revealing his daughter, Carina Smith/Barbossa (Kaya Scodelario) as a main character, and establishing more of his on-land past. All this did a good job of tying  up loose ends and answering Pirates fans questions about their favorite characters before what we can presume is the no-holds-barred final adventure in the sixth film.
  8. Why would Jack give away his compass so easily?– I touched on it earlier, but this was my main question. In a drunken, muddy stupor, Jack gives his valued compass that his been a fixture in almost every past film away for a handle of rum in St. Martin. I realize he’s drunk, but that has to be Jack’s most valuable possession. He was told in the aforementioned battle by a crew member’s last breaths to never give the compass up. This causes a chain of events that ultimately leads to Salazar and crew’s freeing from The Devils Triangle, the purgatory where Jack staved off certain death and trapped Salazar’s crew. In my opinion, Jack shouldn’t have just given away the compass, more development should’ve gone into it, perhaps a tangential story on Jack losing the compass.
  9. From an entertainment aspect, Disney hit the nail on the head again.- I always say about Pirates films that you can’t really watch for accuracy or believability. It’s a fantasy movie, and you’ll often find that those who watch the movie critically enjoy it much less than those who open their minds to fantasy. That’s what makes it so great, it’s such a fun story to follow and the action gets you on the edge of your seat like you’re a kid again. Storyline and feasibility aside, the movie was thoroughly entertaining. I strongly believe that the casual moviegoing audience will especially enjoy Dead Men tell no Tales.

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