It’s crazy to believe that there is an entire generation of people that don’t know Johnny Depp before 2003’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”. His Captain Jack Sparrow has captured the imaginations of people around the world in everything from award shows to even Depp appearing as his character in the Disneyland ride of the same name earlier this year. With the fifth installment of the film franchise arriving in theaters with new directors to the series Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, it amazes me how it can still stay fresh each and every time.
This go around, the central plot deals with Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, who has been on a quest to free his father from the curse of the Flying Dutchman since he was a small boy. Teaming up with Sparrow and a scientist who is accused of being a witch (Kaya Scodelario), they set out to find the mythical Triton of Poseidon, which can lift all curses on those at sea. All this time, they are being pursued by the evil Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), who has a plan for revenge on Sparrow for his own curse as he teams up with Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) who has his own agenda.
You would think that I would have learned by now about not trusting this franchise. Each time I hear that another film is being released, I give my normal eye roll to signify that we are going to this well again. Each time, I do end seeing it anyway and being pleasantly surprised, and “Dead Men Tell No Tales” keeps that streak alive. This is a great adventure film that keeps the spirit of the pirate story genre alive with swashbuckling sword fights, chases of all sorts and means, great special effects (and seeing it in IMAX 3-D didn’t hurt, with an amazing sound field), and enough humor to keep things moving along nicely. Depp simply owns the role of Captain Jack Sparrow, continuing to channel Keith Richards but evolving the character with a bit more heart each and every chapter of his story.
With this being a “next generation” type of story, Thwaites and Scodelario fit themselves into the lore well by honoring the types of roles that they have demanded of them while at the same time putting their own spin on them. They are not simply carbon copies of Knightley and Bloom before them; they are the next step, and if they storytellers can keep that momentum rolling, there is no reason that this series cannot continue. And if what I am reading is correct, there is at least one more film coming with Ronning and Sandberg attached to that one as well (along with screenwriter Jeff Nathanson), so get ready to do it all over again in a couple of years.