Our story begins with Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of the cursed Captain of the Flying Dutchman, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). He is a crew member on a British naval vessel, whose captain refuses to heed Henry’s warnings against sailing into the uncharted Devil’s Triangle. The ship is promptly boarded and captured by the undead sailors of Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem), who lets Turner live so he can carry a message to his arch-nemesis: Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Sparrow, meanwhile, has resorted to bank robbing due to his dearth of a ship. It is isn’t long before events force Henry, Sparrow, his old foe Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and an astronomer named Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) together as unlikely allies.
Somewhere on the vast digital sea of the internet, a bad fanfiction writer is really pissed that Disney used their Pirates of the Caribbean script without permission. But honestly, Dead Men Tell No Tales is one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time (along with Song to Song). Almost every aspect of the movie is terrible, but special mention goes to the writing. The script was actually written by Jeff Nathanson, who is also responsible for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Speed 2: Cruise Control, which should really tell you all you need to know about this movie. The plot is mostly nonsensical, with Sparrow, Turner, Salazar, Carina, and Barbossa all having different objectives, forcing the story to take numerous contrived turns and forcing everyone to fight for the limited screentime. Plus, the story relies really heavy on all the mystical bullshit that the earlier films in the series at least attempted to minimize. There’s magical artifacts, ancient curses, scantily-clad witches, and undead sharks out the wazoo in this film, despite said magical elements being generally one of the least-liked aspects of the earlier films.
The dialogue writing is also atrocious, which frequently overlaps with another gripe about this movie: most of its attempts at humor are painfully unfunny. Some examples illustrating both of these problems are as follows:
1. Early in the film, a British colonial governor opens a new bank, only to find a hungover Jack Sparrow inside the vault. Before his guards can shoot our beloved hero, a half-naked woman also emerges from the vault, and the governor is informed that “Sir, that is your wife!” Ha ha.
2. Carina enters a shop specializing in scientific instruments, and examines a large, fancy telescope. The shop’s proprietor, a (17th century) nerd, walks in and proclaims that “No woman has ever handled my Herschel before!” I guess Baywatch didn’t get enough mileage out of the awkward, nerdy guy who can’t get girls trope.
3. There is a scene in which Jack encounters an old acquaintance of his who tries to force him to marry his large and unattractive daughter, who Jack refers to as “It” for the duration of the scene. Because apparently Hollywood thinks making fun of unattractive women is hysterical in the year 2017!
Oh, did I mention that the movie reenacts the infamous vault-dragging scene from Fast Five, except they do it with horses and drag the entire bank building through the streets? Or that Javier Bardem is criminally wasted on a character that sounds like a cross between a whiny Spanish emo and someone with a hole in their throat from those old anti-smoking commercials? Or that Johnny Depp actually seems to have been drunk for the filming of the first half hour of the movie? Or that his character who was once an occasionally noble hero is now a complete dick completely relegated to the role of (ineffective) comic relief. Or that…
I could keep going, but I think by now you get the gist of it. I wasn’t expecting this movie to be great. But I was not prepared for it to be this laughably bad. The only parts of it that are actually watchable are a couple of the action scenes, which are occasionally entertaining- one particular scene involving a guillotine is reminiscent of the very creative water wheel fight from the second film. But as soon as anyone opens their mouth, whatever enjoyment I was able to gleam was instantly shattered. The only reason I would say anyone would want to watch this movie is if you want to have a So Bad, It’s Good event with your friends. Between this and Baywatch, you could make a whole evening out of it. Of course, I make no guarantees about your mental state afterwards.