By Ian Morton
The fifth entry in the franchise will keep fans happy but ultimately sinks to the far depths with a lack of plot development and all too familiar set pieces.
A cursed pirate hunter and his crew are released from the Devils Triangle to take revenge on the one that put them there – Captain Jack Sparrow. Without the Black Pearl and the loyalty of his crew, this looks to be Jacks toughest challenge yet.
New blood can sometimes be good for a franchise. Whether it’s changing genre, changing tone or even changing a film entirely, a new direction can revitalize and even reboot a flailing series. Unfortunately for Dead Men Tell No Tales however, it’s a case of rinse and repeat as audiences are treated to the same set pieces and plot structure seen so many times before.
Clearly fans of the genre, directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg manage to set the scene well. The opening 20 minutes start strong, introducing new protagonists, setting up the villain and reintroducing the hero to great effect. Once we begin on our journey however, the story grinds to a halt and we find ourselves bobbing toward the next set piece rather than developing character motive.
Without this necessary context, some elements of the plot seemingly reveal holes within previous films whilst the subplots end up an emotional character asterisk rather than give depth to the events of the final act. The result is a film that knew where it was at the start but gets lost once it gets out to the open water.
Although it would seem like nothing really happens, the magic of the franchise has always lived in its set pieces. Previous instalments have raised the bar when it comes to action alone and DMTNT follows the trend well, if not a little repetitive. Whether its two ships battling on the ocean, our heroes avoiding execution or even robbing a bank; there is no shortage of big action spots to keep the audience interested.
Without a doubt, one of the stronger elements of the film is certainly the cast. Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush take to their roles like a duck to water while fresh faces Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites are a welcomed addition to the crew. Javier Bardem certainly chews it up when he gets the opportunity, but an unfortunate lack of development make him nothing more than a throwaway villain.
Overall, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will service the fans but not win over any newcomers. While it stays true to the tried and tested formula, it ultimately does more to hold the franchise back than bring us something new. 2.5 out of 5 stars.