"Pirates" delivers for long-time fans


Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the film, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales." (Disney Enterprises, Inc.) Disney Enterprises, Inc. Buy Photos

After a six year hiatus, "Pirates of the Caribbean" returns to the American psyche, equipped with the action and seafaring stragglers we all know and love. The beloved Disney franchise supposedly comes to a close with “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, a film that features exciting battle sequences, a few great cameos and a somewhat confusing plot.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is at it again, this time getting tangled up in a plan to find the Trident of Poseidon, a powerful relic that newcomers and now romantic leads, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina (Kaya Scodelario), are in search of as well. But when Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his crew of mangled pirate ghosts threaten Sparrow’s life, the search for the trident becomes even more imperative.

The film falls victim to the same vicious cycle that's characterized most of the other four "Pirates" films: a confusing plot line. The premise is clear, but the intertwining of the villain and his creepy cohorts muddies the otherwise clear narrative waters. 

It’s unclear whether the audience is supposed to be caught up in the search for the trident or simply scared of what Salazar will do next, and the correlation between the two storylines is not completely apparent until the very end. That unifying plot line — Jack’s relationship to Salazar and how he scorned him in the past — is not explained until it’s a bit too late in the movie, when Jack’s so called "double-crossing" is hand-waived as nothing but teenage debauchery. 

Jack as a character is the franchise's largest asset, which is why it was upsetting to see that the arrogance and fearlessness we all expect from the character is not at its full capacity in "Dead Men." His usual sarcastic banter has less flair this time around, and he even seems timid at times.

What the film lacks in character continuity, it makes up for in nostalgia. Longtime fans will be pleased by the various battle sequences, all equipped with great special effects and the fantastic score that has stuck in our heads for years. 

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley’s cameos are short lived but heartwarming, reminding viewers they are indeed watching a Disney film. They played an essential part in the plots of the older films, and having been missing from the fourth installment, their grand return is triumphant.

A scene involving an entire house being pulled by ropes utilizes Jack’s wacky personality and the vibrant background of the Caribbean. Packed with zany dialogue and tricks, it’s a fresh spin on the franchise's classic chaotic Jack Sparrow scenes.

It’s been 14 years since the Curse of the Black Pearl made waves in theaters, forging Pirates into a staple Disney franchise. As it comes to a close, adults who have grown up watching the films should feel satisfied with the ending. 

While it has its ups and downs, the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" film delivers on action and visual effects. For a film derived from a Disney ride, what more can we ask for?

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