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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, Geoffrey Rush
Directors: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 129 Minutes
Release Date: October 3, 2017

JACK!!!!”

I’m sorry, were you still talking?”

Film ***

Fourteen years since it’s inception, and the Pirates of the Caribbean series shows no signs of slowing down as one of the biggest money making franchises of all time. After a six year break, there was wonder if another adventure was even likely. And after a couple of dismal installments, it’s nice to see the series back on its feet with the latest entry, Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Of course, there’s still no surpassing the quality of the magnificent first movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, or even that of the first sequel, Dead Man’s Chest. However, this is easily the best movie of the series since the first two and truly overshadows the crushing bores of At World’s End and, especially, On Stranger Tides. Even better is the notion that this movie pretty much disregards that fourth installment altogether. Savvy, indeed!

Whereas the previous film added basically no new excitement to the series, this installment has many improvements to spare. The best of which is that of a terrific villain, in the form of the cursed Captain Salazar (the always great Javier Bardem). His ghostly appearance alone gives off a most chilling vibe, adding to an already sinister presence from the actor.

The main crust of the story involves Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner (a briefly seen Orlando Bloom). Henry is determined to free his father from his curse aboard The Flying Dutchman, which he assumed command of at the end of At World’s End. In order to do this, he will need to find Poseidon’s trident (which has the power to break any curse at sea), and to find the trident, he will need to find a map, and to find the map he will need a special compass.

This leads him to none other than Capt. Jack Sparrow (Depp, once again), who possesses the very compass in question. And they join forces, along with aspiring astronomer/accused Carina Smith (Kaya Scodelario) to find said trident. Problem is, Salazar is on Sparrow’s trail and wants to be both freed of his curse and exact revenge on Captain Jack, who caused his fateful curse years ago.

Oh, and Salazar also has zombie sharks at his disposal, which is always a most awesome possession to have.

Though I started to find the character of Jack Sparrow wearing thin by the last installment, he’s much livelier this time around. I think a great deal of that is attributed to the character being way more of a drunken buffoon than he’s ever been before, and trust me that’s saying a whole hell of a lot. Depp remains fully committed to the role, and provides many memorable one liners along the way.

At a certain point, all of the sequels in this series are interchangeable, as they all seem to be about the same thing. As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing that can ever top the freshness and large scale quality of The Curse of the Black Pearl. And while I certainly wouldn’t mind if this was the last installment of the series, Dead Men Tell No Tales is nevertheless a welcoming upgrade for the franchise, thanks largely the addition of Bardem and some truly nifty bits, especially a sequence involving a swinging guillotine and a later one with the aforementioned zombie sharks.

Longtime fans of this series will eat this one up instantly, and even if you thought you were experiencing franchise fatigue, like I was, this will serve as a grand ole savvy time!

Video ****

This movie series has always been one of the most visually engaging to surface in cinemas, and especially in the high def format. So it should come as no surprise that Disney has boasted yet another mind-blowing presentation with this dynamically charged spectacle. Colors are a constant marvel, be it daytime or nighttime sequences, and the masterful visual effects appear in constant immensely beautiful form! You always get your moneys worth in the visual department with these movies, and this release from Disney illustrates that beautifully!

Audio ****

The same can be said for the audio department, as the DTS 7.1 mix explodes into your sound system like a roaring cannonball! Every ounce of sound element here, from music score to clanging swords to cannon fire, is at top pristine form here. Dialogue delivery is in absolute top form, as well! All in all, another top of the line sounding presentation from Disney!

Features **1/2

On this Disney Blu-ray, we get a behind the scenes documentary titled, “Dead Men Tell More Tales: The Making of a New Adventure”, which covers all production aspects from cast and crew to effects work and so forth. Also included is a Blooper Reel, four Deleted Scenes and a brief photo diary from producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

Summary:

It may not break the mold in terms of movie sequels, but Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is easily a step in the right direction following a couple of sour installments. Johnny Depp is at his wacky best, Javier Bardem is perfectly villainous and the movie itself has loads of action and laughs to spare. It’s escapism at its purest form!

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