Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Parent Guide
The lost treasures the script ought to be looking for are characters the audience can care about and a story they can dig into.
Parent Movie Review
One of Disney’s best moneymakers, Pirates of the Caribbean returns with many of its original cast and characters. Subtitled, Dead Men Tell No Tales, a phrase inspired by the Disneyland ride upon which the franchise is based, the film follows Henry (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley).
Will is still imprisoned in the depths of the ocean on the Flying Dutchman. However, through careful study of the myths and legends of the sea, Henry has discovered a way he can break the curse that binds his father to the sunken ship. He needs to find the Trident of Poseidon.
Enlisting on a British ship so he can search the ocean, Henry finds himself in hot water when he oversteps his rank and tells his naval captain that he is making a wrong turn. The unheeded warning places the whole crew in the path of a ghost ship full of unkillable and unlikable buccaneers under the command of Salazar (Javier Bardem). Dispatching the sailors, save Henry, the decaying captain asks the lone survivor to pass a message onto the infamous pirate Jack Sparrow.
This request, plus his main quest, gets a little bogged down at first thanks to a charge of treason and some prison time. Yet as luck (and plot manipulation) would have it, this unplanned detour eventually leads Henry to Jack. It also has him cross paths with the lovely Carina Smythe, a young woman sentenced to death for witchcraft because of her scientific knowledge of Astronomy and Horology. (That latter term is used repeatedly to wring grade-school laughter out of this often-soggy script.)
With help from Jack’s motley band of men the trio manages to break free and set sail on the drunken pirate’s pathetic ship. Using Carina’s knowledge of the stars, they feel confident the trident can be found. All they must do to get the prize is outrun the British fleet and the immortal Salazar’s plans for vengeance.
Unfortunately, the real treasures lost in this picture are characters we care about and a story we can dig into. The opening scene between Will and Henry (played by a Lewis McGowan) is touching and charts a promising course for the script. And a few messages about the importance of family as appreciated. But once Johnny Depp’s inebriated Captain Sparrow hits the screen, the swaggering swashbuckler becomes an obsessive distraction for the directors.
While many of the characters in this film are “undead” CGI depictions, some are supposed to be flesh and blood human beings. Both are indiscriminately used as cannon fodder, shot and blown up on screen in highly violent scenes with video-game-like gore. Adults may know the bountiful skewered specters and pierced pirates are fake, but that may not be the case for young children. One particularly gratuitous scene depicts the random slaying of many “living” crewmembers (fortunately, not seen in detail), ordered by the egotistical whim of a ghostly scallywag.
Alternating between blasting battles and prattling pirates, the production feels like everyone on board is so busy rigging up the next effects laden conflict that they’ve nearly forgotten about that trident thingy. Yes, there are a few funny moments and a big bank robbery scene is ridiculously engaging. However, if this franchise has any hopes of not joining those who are lost at sea it had best get its booty in gear for the obvious next episode. (Yeah, that means you should stay put in your seat until the very end of the credits.)Directed by Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg. Starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem. Running time: 129 minutes. Theatrical release May 26, 2017. Updated July 17, 2017
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Rating & Content Info
Why is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales rated PG-13? Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sequences of adventure violence, and some suggestive content.
Violence: Portrays of violence and weapons use are pervasive. Characters are shot, stabbed, punched, chocked, drowned and crushed. Many of these acts are shown on screen with some detail, but blood is seen infrequently. Characters are ordered to be executed (hung or guillotined), and decapitated heads are shown. A character is accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death. Several characters are imprisoned, caught in traps, and face other perilous situations. Robberies, death threats, property damage, plundering and murder are depicted. Battles between ships occur frequently and include cannon fire, ramming and sinking each other’s vessels. Death is implied and shown, along with corpses and skeletons. A group of ghosts are grotesquely depicted, consisting of partial body parts and decaying flesh. Sorcery, spells, enchantments and curses are discussed, and a bald and tattooed witch kills a rat (she throws the creature in a cauldron of boiling liquid) as part of a ritual. A dead character possesses the body of another man. Characters are hung upside down, interrogated and impaled by swords. Torture is threated and alluded to. Characters are coerced to do things against their will, including a scene where matrimony is forced by gunpoint. A man’s toenail is ripped off. Many explosions occur. Authority figures are portrayed as dishonest and corrupt.
Sexual Content: A man and woman are found asleep together, and adultery is implied. Couples embrace and kiss. A married couple are seen in bed together. Some mild sexual innuendo and humor is heard, along with mention of a parasite condition (that can be sexually transmitted). A woman removes her dress and is seen in her very-modest underwear: She intends to swim, but a couple of men make comments about her disrobing. A man is seen without his pants (no details are shown).
Profanity: Infrequent use of terms of deity, crude expressions, slurs and name-calling.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character is portrayed as drunken through-out the film and is occasionally seen drinking from a bottle. Other characters drink infrequently.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Parents' Guide
In this film (as in others in the franchise) Jack Sparrow has a compass that points to whatever its owner desires most. What sorts of things are valued by the various characters who use the compass? What might it point to if you were to hold it in your hands?
Carina (Kaya Scodelario) claims to be a scientist, while Henry (Brenton Thwaites) is a student of myths and legends. Why is she critical of his beliefs? What happens when they eventually combine their acquired knowledge? How does this mirror the attitudes about science and religion in real life?
Related home video titles:
This movie is the fifth in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. The other titles are: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides