“Dead men tell no tales.” So says a skeletal voice that ominously calls to guests on the classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disney Parks around the world. Nearly fifteen years after the first film in the unlikely spin-off franchise, Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew set sail for their fifth and presumably final adventure in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Now available digitally from all major providers, fans can complete their collection with the most recent installment.
Reconnected to the original trilogy, Will Turner’s son Henry is on a quest to find the trident of Poseidon which he believes can free his father of the curse the binds him to the Flying Dutchman. Crossing paths with a young astronomer named Carina, the two seek the help of Captain Jack Sparrow (and his compass) to help them find the trident. The only trouble is that the cursed Captain Salazar is also after Jack, who scorned him in his youth.
What I appreciate most about this fifth Pirates film is that it rights a few wrongs from At World’s End and wraps up all the loose ends for the core characters the series started with. Unlike On Stranger Tides, Dead Men Tell No Tales has a real mission through the storytelling and delivers audiences to a to a place we can all live with. While introducing new main characters can be risky this late in the series, both Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Codelario feel right at home in the film among familiar faces.
Where Dead Men Tell No Tales fails is in retreading the same waters from the previous films. A cursed dead pirate as a villain feels stale at this point, especially when Captain Barbosa is still a main character in the film and instantly recalls the way it was expertly done in the first film. He’s a tough act to follow and Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar doesn’t hold a candle to Geoffrey Rush’s brilliant performance in The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Beyond this it’s just more of the same. Each film tries to make the sea battles bigger and the allure has worn off. Johnny Depp’s performance seems lost and confused, at times I question if he got his characters confused between Pirates and Wonderland, with several doe eyed Jack Sparrow moments where he appears to be looking for Mia Wasikowska.
If you’ve followed the franchise from the beginning, and particularly if you felt burned by At World’s End, you owe it to yourself to complete the journey with Dead Men Tell No Tales. While there’s certainly a lot of dead weight in this two-hour adventure, the core of the story is worth reliving the series’ highs and lows. As Jack Sparrow said at the end of The Curse of the Black Pearl, “I think we’ve all arrived at a very special place.”
Now available digitally from all major providers, including iTunes and Amazon Video, you can add Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales to your digital collection immediately. Those willing to wait two more weeks can pick it up on a Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Combo Pack. It will also have the honor of being the first Disney branded film to be released on 4K Ultra HD.
- Jerry Bruckheimer Photo Diary (1:41) – A short reel of still photos captured on set by Producer Jerry Bruckheimer with an into explaining this is one of his many hobbies.
- Dead Men Tell More Tales (47:48) – Seven featurettes are available with a “Play All” option or individually.
- A Return to the Sea (3:34) – The cast reunites for the fifth pirates adventure and describe working with new directors.
- Telling Tales with Brenton & Kaya (8:49) – New cast members Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario reflect on their memories from the set.
- The Matador & The Bull (13:36) – Javier Bardem discusses his approach to playing Captain Salazar, both alive and dead.
- First Mate Confidential (8:49) – Kevin McNally (Gibbs) is one of only three cast members who’s been in all five films. Take a tour of the set and meet some of the new crew.
- Deconstructing the Ghost Sharks (3:51) – The living dead sharks are explored in this featurette, including the tangible on-set models and the CG enhancements to the final film.
- Wings over the Caribbean (5:11) – Paul McCartney’s brief cameo is discussed with behind-the-scenes footage. This featurette lasts longer than his screen time in the film.
- An Enduring Legacy (3:58) – A look back at the unexpected success of the franchise.
- Deleted Scenes (3:07) – Four deleted scenes are presented with a “Play All” feature or individually.
- Highwayman (0:39) – Captain Jack makes a failed attempt at highway robbery.
- A Lesson from Captain Jack (0:44) – Jack shows Henry the proper way to threaten someone with a sword.
- A Whale in Poseidon’s Tomb (1:00) – While reveling in the beauty of Poseidon’s Tomb, Jack and Carina almost get knocked over by a whale.
- Alternate Coda: Murtogg & Mullroy “Flogging” (0:37) – And alternate final scene for Jack.
- Bloopers of the Caribbean (2:59) – The cast goofs up and laughs in this blooper reel.
Reviewing the film on an Apple TV, the 1080p HD stream is impressive. While the Blu-Ray will certainly be an improvement, compression artifacts are virtually nonexistent and colors seem accurate to the cinematic experience.
The Digital HD version of the film is presented in 5.1 surround sound. The mix utilizes the rear sound field for score, sound effects, and off-screen dialogue. The heaviest action moments also put the subwoofer through its paces.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is definitely not the best film in the series, but it provides much better closure than At World’s End was capable of. Bonus features feel a little light, with very few deleted scenes and no commentary track. While the Blu-Ray will certainly improve on video and audio quality, this is a fine digital release giving fans a two week advantage to own it digitally.