Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the fifth instalment in this big box office franchise, but despite welcoming two new directors (Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg), and an array of new characters, the tale itself isn’t so new. While this does leave its audience with a feeling of nostalgia, and may keep die-hard fans seated at the helm, it could drive others to mutiny.
Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is back on the hunt for treasure while on the run from his enemies. But this time, it isn’t the Black Pearl or Davy Jones’ heart that his famous compass points to, it’s the Trident of Poseidon. We return with some of Jack’s old crew and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and while there are some unmemorable new additions to the cast, like the witch Shansa (Golshifteh Farahani), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) have been replaced by their son Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) who are pulled along for the ride. While these two new characters are explored, there is no longer any interest shown by the filmmakers when it comes to the title character’s development as Jack is reduced to a unmotivated drunk. The only original character who is given new life with a fascinating plot twist is Barbossa.
The young cast brings that bit of something new to the story as they travel alongside Sparrow to seek the Trident for their own reasons. Carina, a brilliant astronomer and horologist, takes the helm in this instalment (literally) and leads this band of pirates with the intellect and strength renowned in the series’ female leads. With Henry Turner comes the question of originality, as we learn early on that he desires the Trident to free Will Turner from the Flying Dutchman just as Will had done with his own father. And then, there is the blood spewing Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his undead crew of pirate hunters, who are reminiscent of Davy Jones and his crew as seen in Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End.
The biggest mistake made, though, is the ignorance to any continuity in one of the most iconic parts of the franchise: Jack’s Compass. It’s clear that the script writers (and everyone else) seemed to have forgotten that in Dead Man’s Chest it is revealed that Jack received his compass from Tia Dalma/Calypso, and not from his old Captain as seen in this new film. Along with this, Jack trading his Compass for booze resulting in a curse being lifted lacks continuity with the previous films where Jack either gave away or lost his compass without any consequences. Most notably, in Dead Man’s Chest, he gives the compass to Elizabeth Swann in order for her to save Will Turner, and he loses his compass in At World’s End when he is captured by the East India Trading Company.
This once great franchise has suffered since the departure of Director Gore Verbinski and while this did bring the level of hilarity expected from the drunken Sparrow, a new look into his past, and a wonderfully immersive setting all brought to life by its classic score, it’s an inconsequential chapter in this swashbuckling series.
(Featured Image: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Walt Disney Studios