Let’s be brutally honest for a moment: the Pirates of the Caribbean movies are kind of like nasty take-out. At a cursory glance, and when drunk enough, they look appealing—even, perhaps, enticing. They’re satisfying enough in a pinch, and like all guilty pleasures they can be forgiven of their shortcomings. Nobody watches a Pirates of the Caribbean film expecting cinematic genius (or, really, nobody should be doing so). And like bad take-out, they can leave one with a feelings of disappointment and regret.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the paragraph-length-titled fifth installment in the franchise. On Stranger Tides set the bar so low for this film that it could trip over it and still succeed. The teaser-trailer didn’t betray much of what will be going on, but the first trailer…Yo ho, yo ho, grab some rum and get ready to dream of being a pirate again, because it made the Pirates franchise look like it’s been plundering and pillaging the best and shiniest scripts possible to create the alleged final installment (though there were originally rumors of six films).
Javier Bardem plays Captain Salazar, a man who has dedicated his life to hunting down pirates. As is often the case in this series, he crossed paths with Jack Sparrow and his life and aspirations almost immediately fell to pieces upon some jagged rocks. He then comes back to life as some sort of horrible, rage-driven zombie who has a crew of similarly rage-driven zombies who are still very keen on the idea of killing pirates.
Veteran cast members return in subsequent trailers, showing off a much fishier Will Turner, still doomed to captain The Flying Dutchman, as well as Elizabeth Swan (still played by Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly, respectively). Geoffrey Rush looks haggard as ever as Barbossa, and Johnny Depp slips back into his role as Captain Jack Sparrow like it’s second nature.
The scale of the adventure, and the stakes at hand, feels like a grand new beginning as well as a fitting ending. Captain Salazar is easily the first genuinely terrifying enemy Jack has faced since Barbossa and the whole undead cursed crew of pirates (Davy Jones was ultimately wasted bordering onto pathetic at times). The ongoing battle between pirates, who often end up proving to be the unexpected heroes, and this supernatural evil will undoubtedly push Captain Jack Sparrow to his limits, and the previews certainly leave the possibility of Jack not making it out of this alive very real and present.
While Pirates of the Caribbean has certainly has had its ups and downs, it’s difficult to not get swept up in the hype Disney is generating with these previews. If this is truly the final installment, it looks like Captain Jack and the rest of the cast—good, bad, or morally here-and-there—will be going out on one truly awe-inspiring adventure. Please, dear god please, just be better than On Stranger Tides.
By Phil Gorski