Captain Jack Sparrow is back in the fifth film in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series. This time, he’s helping Will Turner’s son, Henry, and Captain Barbosa’s daughter, Carina, find a trident that will allow Will Turner to return to land. But, they are chased by the villainous Captain Salazar, an undead sailor looking to kill Jack Sparrow because Sparrow caused his own death.
This was a fun little romp that continues the story of Captain Jack Sparrow. But, much like its immediate predecessor, it’s not really necessary. This series should’ve probably stopped at three films, but the last two still weren’t bad. In truth, I enjoyed this film more than “On Stranger Tides,” but that may be because of its connections to the original trilogy with appearances by Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley as Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, respectively. Plus, we see their child trying to free Will from the curse that Sparrow and Swann had to put him under to keep him from dying. It pays off its predecessors nicely, even if there was no need for the film itself.
Johnny Depp shines again as Captain Jack Sparrow. This is the role he was born to play. Depp has played some legendary characters throughout history, but this is the one that he’s always good at playing. He did so well in the role that Disney changed the make up of its Pirates of the Caribbean ride to match the story from the films and introduce Sparrow to visitors at the parks. Depp has made a career of playing creepy, skinny, androgynous characters, but at a certain point they all seem like they are just other versions of Sparrow. This is Depp’s best role and I’m going to find it hard to watch any other “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie without him in it.
Another enjoyable aspect of this film is the villain. Javier Bardem always plays the bad guy well. This performance isn’t as good as his role in the James Bond film, “Skyfall,” but it’s pretty close. He seems like a threat on par with Davy Jones from the original trilogy and even more threatening than Barbosa has ever appeared, either as friend or foe. He’s far more memorable than the villain of “On Stranger Tides.”
I also liked the return of Captain Barbosa and Mr. Gibbs. Along with Sparrow, they are the only characters to appear in all five films, and it really feels like the movie would’ve been lacking without the pair of them along for the ride. Gibbs, who has been a loyal friend to Sparrow, finds a way to become Captain, but quickly tricks another crew member into taking the mantle to avoid being punished after being captured by the Royal Navy. And Barbosa completes a wonderful story arc that saw him as the big bad of the first film and switching between ally and enemy until he makes the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter. The original villain dies a hero. It’s something we’ve seen before, but it’s a timeless arc that always pays off.
Overall, this is my third favorite of the “Pirates” franchise. I enjoyed it more than “On Stranger Tides” and “Dead Man’s Chest,” but not as much as “The Curse of the Black Pearl” and “At World’s End.” It was fun beginning to end, but still wasn’t necessary to the story.
Ranking: 3.5 stars out of 5
What did you think of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales?”