I finally made it to a theater to see Johnny Depp as he reprises his role of Captain Jack Sparrow for the 5th time in the most recent installment of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Men Tell No Tales. Saying it is perhaps the best of the 4 sequels to the original Curse of the Black Pearl, really isn't saying much about whether the movie is good or not. It is better than the others. In fact, I was thinking that if the odd numbered movies were edited and had a few plot point continuity fixes and we pretended that movies 2 and 4 didn't exist, Pirates might be a decent trilogy. The simple truth is that the original was an entertaining, fun, exciting, lighthearted adventure. Movies 2 through 5 became dark tales of death and drooling monsters while Jack Sparrow became steadily more foolish and drunk and the rest of the pirates became dirtier and with poorer dental care.
Dead Men Tell No Tales at least makes the attempt to rectify the gruesome darkness of the other sequels, but it is still dark and the bad guys, the ghost pirate killers, are pretty gruesome. The attempt comes with the over-the-top antics of Sparrow and company, unfortunately Jack has become so foolish and drunk it's like watching one long, bad joke. We do see a sparkle of the Jack we came to love in the first movie at the end of this one, but for the most part there is only so much staggering and suddenly dozing off that I found funny. There are some good humorous lines in the movie, but they are pretty far apart. What the movie does do is give us a good bad guy, grows the character of Barbarossa, give us a pretty exciting end and moving last scene, and a fix to that horrid ending to the original trilogy At World's End.
The plot, which is pretty thin, consists of Jack Sparrow, who is out of luck, has become, if possible even more drunk and irresponsible. We also meet Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) the grown son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). You may recall that in the third installment, Will Turner gave up his life and family to replace Davy Jones. Many people, me included, really hated that ending to what was supposed to be a romance adventure. Henry has sworn to his father that he would break Davy Jones' curse and sets out to do so believing that Jack can give him that answer.
Jack has become cursed. He has no luck, no ship, and barely any remaining crew. He drunkenly stumbles around with the Black Pearl still stored in the bottle it was placed in by Black Beard in the 4th movie. What the search for Jack does do, it leads Henry to Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) who has a clue that will give Henry a way to break the curse. Jack is now being chased by the ghost pirate killer, Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his ghostly crew that Jack as a young and newly minted pirate captain tricked into his destruction in to going into the Devil's Triangle.
One bright spot in the movie is how vengeance driven Salazar is and how well Bardem works the character. Another bright spot is also the growth of Geoffrey Rush's character of Barbossa who has his own secret twist from the days when he and Jack sailed the Pearl together. All in all, without telling you how, Will and Elizabeth finally get the happy ending that they should have had two movies ago. By the way, there is an after credits scene that hints at a sixth Pirates' movie.
All in all, despite its weak plot and the caricature that Jack has become, Dead Men Tell No Tales is an okay movie with enough moments of humor and adventure and nice moments to carry it. I don't feel like I wasted my money, and it is possibly the best of the sequels. Still, don't go expecting to a sequel that has captured the sparkle of the original movie. If I buy the DVD, I may wait for the price to drop before I invest in it.