Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ★★★★½

Apart from On Stranger Tides, which I consider the nadir of heartless, bloodless, artistically bankrupt blockbuster film making, I LOVE the Pirates of the Caribbean films. They’ve deeply fucking weird, insanely idiosyncratic action/horror/adventure films teeming with ghosts, skeletons, Lovecraftian hybrids and monsters. They also happen to be about as expensive and impressively realized as big budget film making gets in the modern era. 

I saw Salazar’s Revenge (never not gonna call this by its foreign market title) once in theaters back in 2017 and thought it was a pretty decent return to form for the series. Well last night this really fucking hit the spot for me and the Disney+ 4K stream and audio somehow blew the Rise of Skywalker presentation out of the water. This flick is far and away the best looking and sounding movie on that streaming platform. 

And that’s what I was in the mood for, a big, loud, immaculately produced piece of spectacle entertainment. But this was waaaaay better than I remembered. Charming new young leads, Depp and Rush tearing it up like the old days, all the fun old familiar faces like Master Gibbs and of course, Bardem’s fucking terrifically horroriffic new baddie, Salazar. 

I mean, never mind the fact I couldn’t understand a one word of what Bardem said or that Depp absolutely does not seem like he’s acting drunk in this one. This is a rousing adventure film, with laugh out loud moments of outrageous physical comedy and a steady stream of top notch action set pieces. Salazar’s ghostly crew are just a riff combining Davy Jones’ from part two and Barbosa’s from part one, but it’s a fucking awesome riff. Endlessly visually compelling and eerily unnatural. 

And as much as I loved the bombastic conclusion to the trilogy At World’s End provided, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate this film restoring Will Turner and reuniting him with Elizabeth Swan. It actually hit me in the feels to see them rush into each other’s arms and passionately embrace. This film leaves things as they should be and I consider it to be the true part 4.

It’s a shame it also represents the film that Depp finally completely unraveled on. But it’s only fitting considering the massive financial success of the series is what sent him spiraling off into full blown self destructive alcoholism and financial megalomania in the first place. I still love old John Depp and sincerely hope he gets his life and career back on track. We all deserve a second chance at things.

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