The fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie is being ravaged by critics as it appears that people have forgotten that the Pirates movies, much like Star Wars, are basically Saturday matinee serials. People are expecting deep and serious stories in a series that’s always basically been Indiana Jones on the high seas. After the absolutely abysmal On Stranger Tides from 2011, Dead Men Tell No Tales is the sequel that the original trilogy deserved.
In fact, you don’t ever have to watch that horrible fourth movie again. Barbossa quickly explains in this one that Blackbeard put the Black Pearl in a bottle “five winters ago”, which eliminates the only story thread from that movie (aside from him still captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, of course). Set about twenty years after At World’s End, Dead Men Tell No Tells is basically The Force Awakens to the original Pirates trilogy with a little bit of The Wrath of Khan thrown in. If you loved the first three movies, this is the sequel that they deserved.
The story centers around the son of Will & Elizabeth who has spent his life hunting down a way to break the curse of the Dutchman to free his father. It turns out that the Trident of Poseidon could do that, so he crosses a path with an orphan girl who never knew her father who has a map that will lead to the Trident. Jack Sparrow becomes involved when Henry Turner hunts him down for help, but that brings trouble as a crew of ghost pirates lead by Captain Salazar are after Jack for revenge. Oh yea, they want the Trident of Poseidon too in order to rule the seas.
If At World’s End had similarities to Return of the Jedi (Jedi opens with Han’s rescue, Pirates 3 with Jack’s. Both have big space/sea battle finales.), then Dead Men Tell No Tales is a similar sequel/reboot to The Force Awakens. Here Will is basically the Luke Skywalker and what drives the main character on their adventure. It also brings back familiar characters from the original trilogy while setting up new ones to carry the torch onward in new movies. And the Barbossa in this movie is probably my favorite in all five, and the character is given an amazing send off.
What Dead Men Tell No Tales does great is recapture the fun of the first three movies. The fourth movie was actually boring. It was just Jack Sparrow leading Blackbeard to the Fountain of Youth. There was no fun in that one. It also looks more like the original three than the last one. On Stranger Tides’ cinematography was jarringly flat and lifeless compared to the trilogy it followed. They’ve fixed that problem in the fifth movie.
As much as I loved Dead Men Tell No Tales, there is a chance this could be the final movie. If it is, it gives a satisfying epilogue to the first three films. There is a stinger at the end of the credits to set up a sixth movie, and if they do that it’ll be the return of one of the greatest movie villains in the last twenty years. But if that doesn’t happen, the Pirates of the Caribbean series will have a really great final installment with Dead Men Tell No Tales.