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The reviews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales are in — and they aren’t pretty.
In 2003, Disney debuted a fictitious world based on a theme-park ride, with Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl earning positive reviews and grossing $654 million worldwide. The second and third installments also received praise, but the series took a turn with the fourth installment, giving an impetus for a new direction for the upcoming fifth film.
In the latest movie, directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, Disney tries to reinvigorate the franchise by bringing back not only Johnny Depp, but also Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush along with series newcomers Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario.
In the pic, Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) finds himself on the run again from a cursed set of pirates, Captain Armando Salazar (Bardem) and his crew. This time, he is joined by a new generation of pirates, Carina Smyth (Scodelario) and Henry Turner (Thwaites) to recover the Trident of Poseidon and save Henry’s father Will (Bloom) from the destiny of Davy Jones’ ship.
However, even with the return of Captain Jack, The Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore found the film doesn’t live up to the level of the original. He wrote in his review that “a very high bar was set the first go-round” with the first Pirates movie. With a plot that sees the son of Bloom and Keira Knightley’s characters teaming with an orphan, “you might well label it Pirates: The Next Generation.”
Continued DeFore: “But unlike the Star Trek franchise-extender, this one is nowhere near bold enough to think it can dispense with its aging protagonist: Johnny Depp’s cartoonishly louche Keith Richards-meets-Hunter Thompson pirate Jack Sparrow, the globally recognized caricature who by now feels (appropriately) more like a theme-park mascot than a Hollywood swashbuckler.”
The new movie’s storyline, based on yet another curse-themed adventure at sea, also received mixed response from critics.
Mike McCahill of The Guardian found the film lacked “new ideas” and the “cracks in the hull become unignorable.”
He added: “Orlando Bloom has pleaded for reduced participation, handing his sextant to on-screen offspring Brenton Thwaites; Skins alumna Kaya Scodelario inherits Keira Knightley’s corsets. The series, in other words, has entered its Muppet Babies or Scrappy-Doo phase, with all the pop-cultural heft that implies.”
Jack Shepard of The Independent wrote in a two out of five-star review that the film fails to make an impression: “Unfortunately, like Salazar’s ship, the fifth Pirates feels a little empty, haunted by the spectre of what came before. There are fun, inconsequential moments but nothing particularly memorable, the film running out of steam midway through as the aforementioned flashbacks take over.”
Forbes’ Scott Mendelson wrote that the new plot didn’t differentiate itself much from the original, but he did find some things to praise.
“No, the world didn’t need a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Dead Men Tell No Tales doesn’t quite measure up to the gloriously gonzo original trilogy. But it still makes its mark as a grounded adventure, or as grounded as a supernatural pirate movie can be,” wrote Mendelson. “If this is the start of a new series, it is a step in the right direction. If it indeed acts as a series finale as promised, then the franchise can exit stage left with honor. Best of all, this fifth offering allows viewers to forget that On Stranger Tides ever happened.”
The ghostly villains and haunted ship seemed to work for Brian Truitt of USA Today, who had praise for the film in a three out of four-star review. “The most important lesson from the new Pirates of the Caribbean? Ghost sharks should have been added a long time ago.”
He added: “After three movies of diminishing quality and a wholly forgettable fourth chapter, Disney’s buccaneer-filled franchise rights the ship.”
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens Friday.
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