How Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Rejuvenated the Entire Pirates Franchise
Warning: Imminent Spoilers Ahead. Sail with Caution.
Let’s get it out there so it’s out of the way. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was unquestionably the worst Pirates movie in existence. Between a lack of Will and Elizabeth, a pretty shaky plot line, and some pretty gaping plot holes, the film hit rock bottom when it came to being a fan favorite. The hype for Dead Men Tell No Tales was pretty big throughout the entire world, because everyone hoped that Jack Sparrow and his crew would make a triumphant, hilarious, and exciting return to make up for the lack that was the fourth film in the franchise.
Boy, did they ever succeed.
Between the return of Will and Elizabeth, the introduction of some exciting and loveable new characters, and returning to the roots of what the fans look for in a Pirates film, Dead Men Tell No Tales was exactly what every Pirates fan was looking for. Ashley Esqueda from CNet believes that it ” breathes new life into the series by getting back to what made the first two films so enjoyable”. Huffington Post reports that “the movie currently has a 78 percent fresh rating from audiences”, a success that isn’t to be overlooked. This success wasn’t just for one reason either—there are a multitude of things that lead to the absolute success of Jack Sparrow’s return. Let’s look into some of them, shall we?
The Return of Will and Elizabeth
The first time Will Turner appeared on the screen, the entire theatre let out a sigh of relief. Suddenly, we knew what was happening with our dearly-beloved character that had been blatantly ignored in the previous film. He was back, and he was pivotal to the entire plot of the newest film; that is, his son’s desire to save his father from a cursed fate and to bring him home again. The first scene between Will and Henry was enough to draw tears from even the most sceptical eyes, and the belief in the child’s eyes that he was going to bring his father back home nestled its way into every viewer’s heart. Immediately, viewers knew what they wanted from the film: they wanted their hero to be free.
Even though we only saw Elizabeth for a few moments, she was also pivotal to the film. Seeing her reunited with her husband and knowing that for the first time, they actually had a foreseeable future together was one of the sweetest moments in the entire franchise. Pirates fans had been waiting years to see the two of them together again, and to see them together and free was exactly what every fan needed. Now, don’t get me wrong: knowing what happened to Elizabeth during her years without her husband, and wondering why she didn’t track that son of hers down when he started off after the trident are prevalent questions that we will hopefully get answers for at some point, but for the most part, Elizabeth’s return was a beautiful moment that Pirates fans can cherish until the next movie (possibly) enters the equation.
Henry and Carina (and their absolutely adorable love story)
Having a sassy, badass, and strong female character return to the franchise was a blessing. From the moment she came on-screen, Carina stole the show as she pushed to solve the equation that had been left to her at birth, unwilling to put up with anyone’s crap along the way. Her resolve (and willingness to put up with a bunch of illiterate pirates) was captivating, and the way she expressed her feelings and beliefs was more than just a blessing; it was a necessity. After Elizabeth, Pirates fans needed another strong female, and they were rewarded with one that took right after her boyfriend’s (is it too early to define their relationship?) mother.
Brenton Thwaites as Will and Elizabeth’s son was some pretty darn perfect casting, because no one can deny that he looks exactly like what the spawn of the fan-favorites would. Henry was a fresh addition to the franchise, in both his dedication to freeing his father and his absolutely adorable innocence compared to the other characters (yes, you did see her ankles!). As much as he reminds us of the young Will Turner from the first film, he’s different enough that fans are able to fall for him as his own, distinct, honoured character. Was the fact that he fell for Carina one-thousand percent predictable? Absolutely. Did that stop it from being adorable? Absolutely not.
Seeing Jack put down his compass was enough to make the entire theatre lose their minds. Aside from his usual scurvy, loveable character, his character arc in this movie deserves some consideration. After all, seeing his beloved crew turn away from him (even Gibbs, which hurt more than anything) meant that we got to see a new side of Jack, and just how far he was willing to go to get that bottle of booze so he could drink away his worries. Seeing Jack man up and fight his battle for Will and himself (let’s be real—it was mostly for himself) was exciting, because it showed us the kind of man that Jack really is behind that mask. The movie was made; however, as it usually is—with Jack and his ridiculous antics taking on the impossible, just so he can remain as he is: Captain Jack Sparrow.
There are mixed feelings on this side of the court for our dearly beloved Captain Barbossa. Was it absolutely perfect to see him again playing both sides, but ultimately fighting for himself? Absolutely. Did seeing him give himself up for someone else change every opinion on his character? It’s quite possible. Is the fact that he is Carina’s father absolutely mind-boggling? For some, it really was. Barbossa had always been the swashbuckling pirate type, and to think that he had the foresight to a) give his child away, and b) give his child something that could potentially help them along in their life gave Pirates fans something to wrap their heads around. Barbossa’s character was changed entirely during the newest Pirates film, and it was refreshing to see the softer edges of his usually rough character. The fact that he chose to give his life to save his daughters (and in the process, Jack and Henry’s lives too) really gave fans a new way to look at his character, and another reason (as if we needed one) to remember him fondly.
The After-Credit Scene
Can we talk about that after-credit scene? The teasing of a Davy Jones return brings up so many options for the Pirates franchise that wouldn’t have been open had they left the film where it ended. It opens up so many questions, like if every curse was broken, how Jones is still tentacally, and what kind of vengeance he’s going to seek against Sparrow and Turner. As much as that film could have been a happy ending for the franchise, this scene leaves writers and directors the option to continue with our dearly beloved characters, which is an excellent choice, because it will more than likely leave fans contented either way. No matter what happens with the franchise though, all fans more than likely want an answer to what happened to Davy Jones and how on earth he would be able to return.
Dead Men Tell No Tales was a triumphant return from a dying franchise that brought viewers all around the world hope for the future of the Pirates of the Caribbean. The return to the very roots of the Pirates film ideology appealed to fans across the world, and will more than likely bring Jack Sparrow and his crew back into the hearts, homes, and DVD collections of millions of people worldwide.
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