Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - Movie Review

The Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The Director: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg

The Cast: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Martin Klebba, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley

The Story: Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon while being pursued by an undead sea captain and his crew.

The Review:
Captain Jack is back! I have actually been looking forward to this move for a long time if for nothing else than for the chance to spend time with a franchise I have really enjoyed over the years. Yes, the series has had it's flaws but the good has always outweighed the bad...for the most part. Co-directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg have taken over the franchise and, in a lot of ways, have taken it back to its roots in an effort to recapture the magic we all fell in love with in the first place. The new film features a mix of classic characters like Jack, played as always by Johnny Depp, and new personalities including the scientifically inclined Carina Smyth (Kaya Scoladerio) and young Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites).

While previous films may have gone overboard with cartoonish action sequences, the directors keep things a little more subdued while also maintaining the level of swashbuckling swagger we have come to expect. There is one particular sequence involving a guillotine that is pure genius and so freaking hilarious, it is quite honestly one of my favorite moments in the entire series. Visually, this may be the best of all the Pirates films as the directors, along with cinematographer Paul Cameron, take full advantage of big, sweeping oceanic vistas and colorful, lush landscapes.

Any Pirates film just wouldn't be complete without the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow and, of course, Johnny Depp is once again front and center as he staggers and stumbles his way through another crazy adventure. Jack is such an iconic character, it's hard for me to watch Depp in anything else, so it's always a treat when I do get to see him re-inhabit this role. Jack's latest foe, the undead Captain Salazar, is brought to life by Javier Bardem (Skyfall) in a way that really fits into the mystical lore of the franchise. Salazar easily stands alongside other great villains in the series like Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) and Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) without being a carbon copy of what those men brought to the table.

As the series pushes forward, the creative team has added in some new faces to keep things fresh although I wasn't super impressed with either Scoladerio or Thwaites in leading roles alongside Depp and Rush. Their performances are fine, I'm not going to pick apart a Pirates movie, but they don't really stand out in the same way that Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom always have. It was also nice to see Kevin McNally back as Mr. Gibbs although not having Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook reprise their roles as Pintel and Rigetti left a bit of an empty space in my mind. Sure, there's a ton of characters to keep track of, but the comedy relief they provided has always been an essential piece of the movies that should not have been left out.

The Verdict:
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is very welcome return for this beloved franchise and it easily fits in as one of the best of the bunch. It's great to see Johnny Depp back in his most recognizable role and the whole thing is just so much fun to watch.

I did not see the movie in any premium format so not able to share any first hand experience. The 3D format was achieved in post production although the company hires to do the work is Legend 3D who previously put in an amazing effort on Doctor Strange and I hear what they did with Pirates is pretty phenomenal. If you like 3D, this is probably going to be a great option.

The IMAX presentation is also a post conversion, although the directors went to great lengths to give the format a premium experience with more to see during every frame of film. That being said, the visuals still won't fill the entire IMAX screen so take that for what it is.

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