Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
I think every Pirates of the Caribbean movie review since DEAD MAN’S CHEST has started out with “I can’t believe they made it this far”, but despite the improbability, the series has now made it to 5 films even though it was clear they didn’t have anything to say after the third one. In DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, the series gets back to what made it famous and puts two attractive, young stars in the lead and reverts Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow back to more of a supporting character. The film injects a little bit of life into the series, but it can’t escape the shallow feeling that plagued the previous entry, ON STRANGER TIDES.
The focus on this film is on Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), who is on a quest for Poseidon’s Trident, which he believes will break the curse that plagues his father, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). His obsession has taken him through a series of jobs, but he eventually meets up with Carina (Kaya Scodelario), a young girl also in search of treasure, albeit for different reasons. Henry has heard tales of Jack Sparrow (Depp) and seeks him out to aid him in his quest for the Trident. All the while, they’re being chased by Captain Salazar, who is living with his own curse at the hands of Jack.
ON STRANGER TIDES shifted the focus away from Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan and onto Jack Sparrow and the franchise suffered greatly for it. Although Jack is a fun character, he’s not deep enough to carry a film or a storyline because he doesn’t have any connections with any other characters. So the filmmakers were wise to bring in two young leads with their own baggage in an effort to drive the story forward. It almost feels like they were trying to recast Will and Elizabeth and set up some future installments. It’s a noble effort, but it also feels very forced, as if we’re instantly supposed to care about these two new characters. It’s hard to care about either of them, but we do care about Will and Elizabeth, which by default makes us kind of care about Henry.
Of course, Jack is the glue that holds everything together and if you loved him during the first four movies, there’s no reason you won’t love him here. Depp has the character down to a science now and it doesn’t really matter what he’s saying or what situation he’s in; you can’t help but get a kick out of him. He was used much better today than in the last film, but he alone isn’t enough to carry the film.
Aside from the emptiness of the two new characters, the other issue plaguing the film is that it’s a good 30 minutes too long. The swashbuckling, fast pace of the series has served it well, but there were long stretches in DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES where nothing happens. When the action does start, some of the scenes are more effective than others. The rescue sequence in the beginning might put you to sleep while the ship battle between Jack and Salazar was very entertaining.
We should also discuss Will and Elizabeth (slight spoiler warning). I was hoping they’d be brought back into the forefront since I really liked them in the original trilogy. But they’re barely in DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES and Elizabeth doesn’t even have a speaking part. It’s a minor complaint, but it’s one that disappointed me.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is an exceptionally bright, vibrant film and it shines through on 4K UHD beautifully. To be clear, it also looks great on Blu-ray, but the 4K release takes everything up a notch, from the brightness of the sunny seas to the details in clothing and facial features. The 4K also gives a pseudo-3D effect thanks to the increased definition and color depth, which was a nice addition. You’ll also get to see every detail in every bit of clothing for each character. Normally, that’s not a huge deal, but the costumes here are pretty elaborate and I found the added detail to be a welcomed improvement. This isn’t quite a reference quality disc, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
Audio: The Dolby Atmos track sounds boisterous to say the least. The Pirates movies have always sounded great and the Atmos track really gives the track a new dimension.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Deleted Scenes (3:00): Four scenes that are very short. Sorry, no more Will or Elizabeth.
Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Making of a New Adventure (49:47): This is a seven part making of featurette that covers everything from Paul McCartney’s cameo to the special effects. For how long this is, I didn’t find it very insightful.
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