Movie Review: ‘Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’ Is Awash in Ambitious Visual Effects

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It’s been six years since Captain Jack Sparrow and his motley crew of pirates set sail for another adventure on the high seas. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the fifth installment of this swashbuckling series — but alas it is drowning in visual effects. Even the wonderful performance by Johnny Depp as Sparrow — who is always fun to watch as he drunkenly walks about — at times is simply washed overboard by the fantastical happenings around him.

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But don’t walk the plank just yet as it’s still a great ride if you surrender to the busy storyline by Jeff Nathanson. He previously wrote engaging screenplays for Catch Me If You Can and Terminal.

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The treasure at hand is the Trident of Poseidon — a powerful curse-lifting artifact — and it can only be found by a map that nobody can read except a beautiful astronomer Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario). She is also a horologist (one who studies time) — a word that provides comedy for Sparrow and his randy crew.

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The tale begins with the quest of a young boy out to break the spell that befell his father Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) who was cursed to remain on The Dutchman. Nine years later, the boy named Henry – played by Australian teen heartthrob Brenton Thwaites – is all grown up and held for treason aboard a vessel manned by the British.

Source: Disney Enterprises, Inc.

They head straight into the Devil’s Triangle colliding with a ship filled with murderous ghosts. The ship is led by Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar, who is out to settle a vendetta with all pirates — especially Sparrow. The CGI affects of Salazar are creepy and cool. Visual effects supervisor Gary Brozenich created an undulating ghostly figure that spews black blood from his mouth when he speaks. “We wanted to give them a ghost-like appearance, so, for example, their hair floats like it is underwater,” Espen Sandberg of the dual directing team wrote in the production notes. “And so does their wardrobe. And there are also pieces falling from them as they’re moving around. They’re falling apart and they’re disintegrating before your very eyes.” It was further enhanced by makeup and hair designer Peter King who was inspired by the appearance of “cracked turf.”

Source: Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Meanwhile in St. Martin, Sparrow is a wanted man who most people assume is “dead and buried in an unmarked grave.” He is very much alive sleeping off a drunken stupor in a bank’s safe. An entertaining hijinx unfolds as he makes his getaway to remnants and ruins of a ship docked on a beach. His curse is his beloved Black Pearl, which is trapped inside a bottle.

Source: Disney Enterprises, Inc.

As Sparrow, Henry and Carina band together in pursuit of the illusive Trident — the film becomes awash with magic and illusions like the ocean dividing and sea creatures that resemble the ghost of Jaws. Geoffrey Rush returns as Captain Barbossa who’s mellowed a bit — but nonetheless still skanky — now commandeering the late Blackbeard’s ornate vessel. 

Source: Disney Enterprises, Inc.

But Johnny Depp is the reason why we keep coming back for more. Every appearance on screen of Johnny Depp as the mischievous Sparrow is like Pirate’s Booty – deliciously addicting. Spoiler Alert — Don’t scoot out while the credits roll as an extra scene has been added to tease the sixth sequel. Savvy?

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