Pirates of the Caribbean: Deadmen Tell No Tales, Review – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (spoilers!!)

The lead character that loved himself … waaayyyy too much!

As you hear that fantastic, original Pirates of the Caribbean movie uplift you and fill you with thrill and excitement, you can’t help but think … again, really? Yes! The 5th installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean (a movie loosely based on the funtastic ride at Disneyland), is back with all the favorites for another adventure (even if some of them only show up for 30 seconds …?!?!). So, I give this movie a 5.5 out of 10 (and my reasons, scoring, and review – are below)! It’s worth the watch if you like Pirates of the Caribbean – but not a great movie by any means. Still, this movie has it all! Live pirates, dead pirates, drunk pirates, destined lovers, people from different lifestyles, rum, a monkey … um … ocean … evil pirates? Okay … well … actually this movie has everything that every other Pirates movie had … even witches, curses, bumbling English soldiers and everything else that if you liked it before … here’s more!

The Good

Well, as expected, this is a hilarious movie. The script isn’t great, but there is plenty of action, lots of high quality production, and Johnny Depp (and crew), are back on board, as funny as ever. In fact, I probably laughed a little harder during this movie than I have at the others. Of course … that only works if you quit thinking about the story line and just enjoy it on a more superficial level!


The story starts out on an island, where the exposition is blatantly brutal explaining that the English bank has never been robbed for what is a almost a pointless narrative. So … set your expectations low, because when you hear that the bank’s never been robbed, what happens next? Exactly. The bank is robbed by Depp and crew … along with a building, a wife, and a few other funnies. The background of the story is another deviation from the traditional ride at Disneyland and tries to introduce us to a new character (which I’ll discuss further on), but does, in some small part, stand alone. Depp is giving all of the quality and worthwhile lines … and I do mean all of them, and he does his usual, excellent job of bringing a highly animated character (Captain Jack Sparrow), to life. From being constantly intoxicated and yet able to leap tall buildings in a single flop to his terror dealing with the spider monkey, he’s as funny as expected.

The production quality is well done. I can’t speak for 3D because I refused to pay the 3D or IMax prices for this movie since it rendered beautifully on a Sony 4k screen (assuming that it really was one in a Regal Cinemas), with Dolby 7.0. Every sound was incredible … even the highly incomprehensible, liquidy-slurred speech from Salazar (Javier Bardem) was audible thanks entirely to Dolby (and I can’t imagine trying to watch it at home or on any other sound system and still understanding half of what that character says otherwise). The outrageous scenes from the Black Pearl magically growing in “half” size to the sinister and very beautifully crafted Poseidon’s trident, were all rendered with incredibly clear quality. Many of the scenes were dark – so if you do watch it at home, you’re gonna need a really bright screen to fully enjoy it!

I don’t speak often, but when I do, I slur my words!

Speaking of everyone’s favorite Sea God (Poseidon … or um … well .. probably really the only main Sea God), his Trident was an excellent side story that deserved its own movie. That aside, the Trident was exceptionally well crafted and thanks to one of the very, very few excellent directing moments by Joachin Ronning and Espen Sandberg, both of whom I am very unfamiliar with (and after this have no desire to see anything else they do), the camera angles clearly captured the sinister face and demeanor of the Trident and told an entire story all by themselves. Plus, I have to give it up for the island – that was kind of cool (an island that reflected the stars!). Just a personal like.

The movie sets and costumes were incredibly well done. Everything was placed well (other than a few *whoopses* here there and … well … in a LOT of places), and generally looked great. The use of a spinning guillotine was exceptionally hilarious and while I’m not sure that it would work in real life … who cares!? That was outrageously funny and I appreciated the unique “save-the-day” approach. And, of course, everyone except the CGI characters really had a well done outfit and were enjoyable to watch. In fact, Carina’s strength as a main female character in the beginning of the movie was not only funny, but I was actually rooting for her! It was like, “Yeah! Down with the man! You go, girl!” And, those are just some of the moments that made this movie fun to watch.

The Bad

So … um – the directing. Wow. Like I said before, these guys had their moments. And, I’m assuming that every other director turned this movie down knowing that by number 5, it was getting ridiculous … but these guys are the kings of cut and paste. Every action sequence was ridiculously so cut up that it was sometimes difficult to know which part of the movie we were watching or what was ‘supposed’ to be going on. For example, when Sparrow and Salazar were leaping across the cannons, the cameras could NOT stop jumping around because, what? They couldn’t take the already CGI’d back screen and create a larger jumping area? Dang. Be prepared to be bedazzled, dazed, and spun around 3 or 4 times during every fight scene, action scene, and cut scene that eventually you give up trying to figure out what’s going on. The best work they did was the bank heist with the entire building. Even with the cut scenes, they managed to put in two separate (and converging) story lines to make it more linear. Argh!

Again? Wow. He even comes out of the water looking this dirty!

Johnny Depp is good … but … um … well …. He’s also getting a bit … redundant. Wait, guess what? He’s drunk on rum! No … forget it, that’s been the premise of his “funny” in every movie. He’s … having lucid affairs with married women and is broke? Nope … repeat. He’s in jail and being executed? Wrong again … same old …. old …. REALLY old story. He’s tied up and captured … or suddenly a badass and tying up other people? *Sigh* And, so on, and so on, and so on. Mind you – he was funny. The writers gave him a LOT of good lines (except for that TERRIBLE jail scene with his supposed “Uncle Sparrow” and the skeleton and mop joke in which the guards just stood there???). But … dang … did anyone notice just how boring everyone else’s lines were (for those who had lines since Swann didn’t even get to speak)? Especially, Carina Smyth: the funniest thing that came out of her mouth was that she was a horologist. (Which – for as funny as that was, it was best served for stupid male 10-year old humor … you know … the same age for loving pirates!!!)

Sadly, Depp wasn’t at his best. In fact, the addition of a ‘tribute’ just added to the character’s arrogance that came through via lazy acting. While some of his work was good, often times it felt as if he really didn’t try. Of course, considering how badly Bloom and Knightley were treated (as cameos), it must be hard for Depp to not have a big head. Perhaps age is his problem, but either way, he takes ‘drunken’ to an exaggerated level and goes way overboard. Eventually, it even begins to get boring and drag on way too long.

The island where the secret to Poseidon’s Trident was so poorly underutilized and done that it was a damned shame! First off … no PIRATE in their right mind would not have leapt face first onto the ground and started pocketing every diamond they could find! Second … the missing piece of the star was with Barbossa and then his daughter the whole time? What? Then … at one time, it was whole and someone just broke off a piece? Umm …. what? And … if that wasn’t enough, just to ad ex machina convenience, the Trident was in the ocean … a REALLY long way from the island so the sea could split in two and they could have a tragic ending. *sigh*. It was good … yes … but too much in too small of a REALLY rushed space of time (and, yes – from the moment they discovered the island … the clock was ticking and everything was slammed in).

Bad Halloween prop …

Ending all curses without considering the consequences! Yes … this was a terribly stupid turn of events in the movie. Whilst the curse brought back Salazar and his crew to life, it also restored Will Turner and the Flying Dutchman (and its crew). The catch? It was daytime. During the day, the Dutchman was under water (or we’re lead to believe as young Henry Turner could supposedly only visit dad by night). Which, based on the death of Salazar’s crew meant that … bum bum bummm…. dead Dutchmen! But … that would just suck. So … movie convenience! Everyone’s okay! Wouldn’t that mean all the dead shark and birds and other creatures were brought back to life, too? And … what about Salazar’s ship? What pirate wouldn’t have hijacked that bad boy? It was the baddest ship in the sea! But … nope. It’s sitting in the middle of the ocean in premiere condition … or … not? Of course … now the treasure Barbossa was after in the first movie is no longer cursed and even though he’s dead … it’s a free for all (since everyone now knows where it is!).

An anchor with an escort! Yes! For no apparent reason, swinging the anchor down to save the crew wasn’t enough. Barbassa decided to ride the anchor down to save the folks below. Why? No particularly good reason except to yell at them to catch the anchor because, hey, realizing that the ocean was about to collapse on them wasn’t enough motivation! But, of course, in traditional, movie-convenience ending, the bad guy (Salazar), grabs hold of the anchor with everyone else and begins to climb. Set aside the fact that it’s slime covered, wet steel that’s almost literally impossible to climb … and the girl was at the bottom … and no one thought to climb down to grab her … or help her … and … *sheesh* this was an excessively ridiculous scene. It was so bad that it stole from the tragic ending when Carina realized that Barbossa was her father.

The young … Jack Sparrow? Just take away rum and funny and add in a long-haired kid and … instant young Johnny? Too bad they let him talk!

And … with that … what the heck was up with the deaths at the end? Sure, I get it – Salazar and crew needed to die. Salazar was a self-indulgent, temper-tantrum throwing child who decided to go on a murderous rampage to kill every pirate because his father died. Bad kid. Yet, while his crew were drowned immediately upon the restoration of their lives (a horrible … HORRIBLE death that was karma appropriate), Salazar was stabbed in the back and then fell into the ocean. Wow … a lost opportunity. So … let’s replace it with a crappy Han Solo-like ending! Yes! Father falls to his doom trying to save his child in an epic, slow motion and sad music scene. No … we really don’t get the full scale sadness of this because so much was thrown at us in a matter of 10 minutes that we can barely wrap our heads around what’s happened and Carina is too busy staring into nothingness trying to piece together the most obvious puzzle of all time instead of crying that … whew … it sucked (regardless of the fact she’s supposedly super smart??). Same as seeing Han Solo die. Stupid … misused moment in a movie that could have been handled a thousand different (and better) ways!

The “middle-man” island scene, where Depp and friends make their escape from Salazar and crew, was really … really dumb. So … you’re on a ship, being chased by a crew of dead sailors that want to kill you, you can’t outrun them, and you’re within rowing distance of an island that they can’t approach and … what? Wait? Why not turn off there in the first place? And … what was with Salazar being the one who was on sand when *poof* – instant dust! So … is he dead, now? Dead he violate his curse and stay punished? Nope. He pulled a classic cartoon-style off-frame sequence where apparently, once off-screen, he was just fine again. Um, what? That was … oh, I dunno … STUPID. Movie convenience is one thing – going off frame and back into frame to be instantly healed is really … really painful to watch. Not to mention that the sharks we’re so attentive on tearing apart a dress that they couldn’t pull themselves away long enough to hunt down Sparrow? WTF?!?

The only clever part about this scene was Carina having the sense to scream, “Ahhh, ghosts” and run away … although somehow … the tattered sails and living monster ship had not made it obvious to her before?!?

Minor mistakes. Of course, this movie was filled with editing mistakes galore. That’s what happens when you have directors who use preschool cut and paste tactics rather than good directing to accomplish their tasks (sorry – insulting, I know – and I don’t mean to pick on these guys since they were given a big task with little experience … but it’s getting more and more common in Hollywood and REALLY old). Case in point, Carina strips off her dress to her body-covering underalls (which were appropriate for the era), so she can jump in the water and swim for shore. The diary? Well … that was in her dress, and unless you were looking at her soaked under clothing heavily … there was nowhere for the book. I know … I know … small things, right? Enough of them though … add up quickly. For instance, leaving the map to the island on a wall for the guards to read … who does that? Guards that know she’s a nun in disguise but only after they leave Turner locked up on a bed (and not in a jail cell?) – what?? The English army that left LONG after everyone else catching up to even the Pearl? C’mon … dumb! The Assassin’s Creed escape scene when Depp shoves Carina off a roof so she can land cleanly on her back, on a pile of hard … HARD .. hay, sitting conveniently below in a wagon attached to horses (which I thought was something only done in video games … who knew, right?), and have the horses instantly carry her away so the guards (who are apparently the ancestors of Storm Troopers), could shoot at her at close range and miss. Again … WTF? And so on. This list is really long – but I’ll leave it at that!

The Ugly

For starters … number 5? Really, Disney? OFF OF ONE RIDE? And then … to MAKE MATTERS WORSE … they DID NOT END IT! Noooo … that would have been a highly successful conclusion to this “epically” long series that was designed to tie up all the loose ends (“sort of”). They had to throw in a very last second, “after the credits” showing of a pirate (whose apparently dropping barnacles anytime he stands in one place … by someone’s bed), or … at least his arm … to take the finale of Will Turner’s story and …. extend it. C’mon! I’ve been screaming for years about the crap Hollywood is putting out in the form of remakes and sequels instead of doing anything new or original and even after giving Pirates #5 a one-last-shot in theaters (having waited at home for numbers 3 & 4), they want to do it again?! Man … Disney just doesn’t know when to quit. Of course … should I be surprised? They sequel the heck out of everything they touch … and have since … I don’t know … the beginning of movies! Well … no more. Sorry. This was a good end and I’m afraid that unless it hits Netflix and is already covered under my already paid subscription – I’m not paying for another one! I’ll just consider this a great ending – and hopefully Disney does, too. (Of course, since we’re on the topic, the “Indiana Jones doesn’t lose his hat rip off” was poorly back-storied with a young Jack getting “tribute” … argh).

A beautiful island scene … with a ship that just hit shore but apparently is fine … and not a single pirate interested in the fact it’s a treasure trove?

The ships that could not sink … or tip over … or drown … or … what? Whether it was the tiny pearl thrown into the ocean (so water could make it grow … which was stupid funny … okay … but stupid funny) and then popped up and tipped upright (*stupid*ahem*cough*stupid*), or the fact that the Pearl was run hard into a rocky island and seemingly had no consequences … that really pushed the boundaries of acceptable. Of course, as I said before, as long as you don’t think about it – it’s great! And … when the ocean splits in two and you hang an anchor over the edge … don’t worry – you can ride the ship on the edge of the abyss without any problems. Oh, sure, it may be a little hard to keep the wheel straight and the anchor can apparently be held just above the bottom (which was … neat … but dumb), don’t worry – everyone will escape … including the monkey! After all – it illogically escaped from a whirlpool, turned upside down to the land of the dead, and withstood being magically bottled … why not an abyss? Sure. Heck. If we’re going ‘stupid’ with it – next movie: Pirates of the Caribbean … in SPACE! Yeah … I could see the Pearl magically flying through space …


Two minutes of Orlando Bloom (Will Turner) and Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann). This was the dumbest inclusion/exclusion of characters – ever (almost). The ENTIRE premise of the movie was young Henry wanting to save his father, right? His father was captain of the Flying Dutchman, right? So … was Will just sitting at the bottom of the ocean feeling sorry for himself while his crew wandered around lost on one side of the ship (just saying that last part since it took them 4 minutes to not even show up once they had noticed Henry was aboard the Dutchman)? Could Will have … oh … I don’t know … done some epic ship stopping battle of the dead vs. the dead with Salazar? Yeah … awesome, right? But, at least we had an older, crappy looking (and I mean … she looked terrible), Elizabeth Swann run onto an open field, with no words, to kiss Will. Yay! Happy ending. Wait? What? She knew the Flying Dutchman was back and her son was gone – but wanted no part of this movie? Wow. Pathetic.

There was a wasted scene on an island SO bad, that included a scabies-ridden overweight whore who was to marry Captain Sparrow that for 10 seconds it was funny, and then just became exceedingly uncomfortable. Apparently … there was a back story line to that – but no matter (writing’s difficult! Forget the 10 thousand other open-ended story lines in the other 4 movies that would have fit better). The crew of men and women that were apparently trapped on the island were so worried about forcing Sparrow to marry an ugly woman than realize there was obviously a ship nearby (by which they could escape), that they attended the wedding like some crazed cult instead of escape. Yes … that’s right! Jack’s repayment was to be married to a diseased woman because … what? Was the totally not memorable bad guy who wanted revenge and just died quickly anyway (another 2 minute cameo) going to keep a gun to his head while they had sex, too? *sigh*

How … What … Why … and Who? We’re only missing 3 of the remaining dwarves!

Of course, we’re back in England where the entirety of the English army is too weak to accomplish … anything. Not only is Barbossa a well-to-do-pirate (who shoots at his violin players???), but when chasing down multiple pirates, a witch, and an ancient artifact of power, they send only one ship … you know … the one that gets eaten. Well … that was … anti-climatic (kind of like the bald witch that Barbossa owed a favor to … for reasons we’ll never get to know … or care about!). But, the bumbling doesn’t stop there. Young Henry Turner apparently couldn’t hold Carina Smyth by her legs and instead had his thumb somewhere it didn’t belong – port or stern side I’m still not sure – but either way – what was supposed to be a quick, one-time funny joke was not only drug out WAY too long – they re-referenced it later on as if it was some amazing moment in the movie for everyone to remember. Not really the best use of screen time and dialogue. Kind of like a mass execution where they were going to kill multiple prisoners at a time with multiple methods for the same crowd … er … um … really? Were there literally dozens of people sitting on death row on that tiny island? Wow. The English have issues!

And – the WORST mistake in this entire movie was Salazar stepping onto land in between the ocean waters. Why did all of the other Devil’s triangle cursed pirates remain in the ocean walls? Because, they couldn’t walk on land. But, now, Salazar can? If it was because it wasn’t “technically” dry land, then why did his entire, murderous crew not help? After all – the Trident is real and now they could all be cured! So – it goes like this: Salazar’s crew can see the sun – but they’d rather run around continuing to murder pirates which is what screwed them in the first place. And, rather than enjoy their newfound freedom or break the curse and THEN get revenge on Sparrow (whose last name is supposedly not Sparrow?) – they focus on randomly murdering pirate ships hoping they get the right one. But, it doesn’t stop there. Clearly, the Trident had to be at the bottom of the ocean for Salazar to be able to step out of the water, right? Like his ship – if the ground was wet, he could walk on it (or so we assume?). But, the pirates who sacrificed breaking the curse to get revenge on Sparrow didn’t step out with Salazar … so … um … because … reasons? But, Salazar can apparently possess a human body… although he gets stuck, that is, of course, unless the human is the lead Turner and the possessor grabs hold of the Trident, which then magically releases him from the possessee and suddenly… blam… he can walk on dry land. But, right after the trident is broken, the curses end and even though it takes 30 seconds for Salazar to transform…. he still gets a free ticket on land? That was one of the poorest attempts at trying to write something that fit within an already, self-destructive story line.

The Conclusion.

Well … ’nuff said … let’s see how the movie ranks up, shall we?

Story Line: 5 (A 2 for number FIVE sequel, a 1 for poorly integrating old characters and pointless ‘quickie’ cameos, an 8 for the semi-good use of the trident story, a 5 for the bad Salazar shortened version story, and a 9 for making me laugh – a lot).

Visuals: 9 (Like all the other Pirate movies … aside from the impossible and the terrible CGI that I can ignore … it was really good).

Audio: 8 (Thanks to Dolby Digital for saving this since Salazar’s ghost words were slurred almost as bad as Johnny’s rum talk).

Directing: 7 (a sympathy higher number for the newbie directors since it felt like neither one knew how to do much of the filming and I’m assuming a LOT of glue was used on this reel!)

Characters: 6 (An 8 for Depp, a 6 for Henry and Corina – combined, a 5 for Barbossa, a 7 for the primary cast and crew, and a 3 for all the pointless extras … and rounding up!).

And, a -1.5 for the amount of bad stuffs. Sure, sure, if I don’t think about it, I can live with it. Of course, that’s not the point of the movie … especially by number 5. They should have it down well enough by now and have a crew experienced enough by now to fix the mistakes of the past. But … nooooo…. cruddy fighting scenes (most of which were just heard and missing in action), the dumb placement of objects like the trident, a ship eating ship, and so on and so on … hurt what could have been a great, final film in the series.

So … this movie scores a 5.5 out of 10. Yes, it’s worth it to watch – at home (if you have great audio and a bright television screen). It’s a movie that most of the teenage and up family can watch (because you don’t want to explain why everyone’s laughing about a man whose never had a woman touch his long, hard, scope before to a 10 year old). And, of course, the Pirates theme and genre has been pretty popular. But, if you want to see a good movie, sorry – this isn’t it.

But, apparently, they do make a lot of requests to pass along messages while holding really, really long grudges!

(On a particularly sad side note – Wonder Woman skipped opening on Memorial Day Weekend so as to not compete with Pirates. That tells you that they knew Wonder Woman was potentially SO bad – that they dared not compete with a FIFTH sequel in what could have been the best weekend to open, ever, and try their luck opening the next weekend right after everyone’s spent their money to go to the movies … hoping Pirates will have been good enough, that people will give Princess Diana a shot! EMBARRASSING!!!)

Thanks for Reading!

Ahhh … Monkey.” – Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy?


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