The first Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales reviews are now online and are mostly of the positive (if somewhat unenthusiastic) variety. Word of mouth around Dead Men Tell No Tales – the fifth Pirates movie overall and the first released since 2011 – has been improving since its first screening at CinemaCon back in March; where those journalists and members of the press who caught the swashbuckling sequel praised it as being a noticeable step-up in quality from the fourth installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Dead Men Tell No Tales, as directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki, Marco Polo), picks up with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he finds himself on the run again from supernatural buccaneers, this time in the form of Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his crew – pirates hunters who were led to their doom years ago, by a then-young Sparrow. Joining Jack on his adventure is the astronomer Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) and the sailor Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), as they journey together to recover the Trident of Poseidon: an object that can not only stop Salazar, but possibly save Henry’s father Will (Orlando Bloom) from the fate that he was doomed to, during 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

As mentioned, the first reviews for Dead Men Tell No Tales are more positive than negative, though the overall consensus is pretty mixed and lukewarm at the moment. [UPDATE: Dead Men Tell No Tales is now at 32% “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, after 19 reviews. The rest of this article has been left as it was originally written.] First up, we have SPOILER-FREE excerpts from the positive reviews for the fifth Pirates adventure (you can clip the respective links for the full reviews):

Brenton Thwaites and Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean 5 Pirates of the Caribbean 5 Early Reviews: A Pirates Life for Me?

Brenton Thwaites and Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The Wrap – Robert Abele

The good news, though, is that the fifth entry, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” is the most divertingly enjoyable since the first. A professionally crafted brew of action, slapstick and supernatural mumbo-jumbo, it’s less likely to spur timepiece glances than did the last few bloated installments… It’s also not as zipless and personality-free as the last one, the Rob Marshall-helmed “On Stranger Tides,” which couldn’t justify its existence, stumbling around as much as the series’ anti-hero, Captain Jack.

IGN – Jim Vejvoda

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales manages to be less bloated, dreary, and meandering than the last three entries have been, but it still suffers from many of the same wearisome, dredged-up villains and ho-hum action and comedy that have bedeviled the franchise since its second installment. The film’s biggest positive is that it ultimately has enough heart and offers enough closure for the Pirates franchise to end on not a high note, but less of a low one, should Disney decide this is the final voyage for Captain Jack Sparrow and his mates. And they probably should.

USA Today – Brian Truitt

After three movies of diminishing quality and a wholly forgettable fourth chapter, Disney’s buccaneer-filled franchise rights the ship with fifth installment Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales… Johnny Depp’s drunken Captain Jack Sparrow stumbles into yet another seafaring adventure, which has its rocky moments but also offers an engaging tale with family legacies, above-average swashbuckling and a fantastic new villain courtesy of Javier Bardem.

Forbes – Scott Mendelson

No, the world didn’t need a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Dead Men Tell No Tales doesn’t quite measure up to the gloriously gonzo original trilogy. But it still makes its mark as a relatively grounded adventure, or as grounded as a supernatural pirate movie can be. If this is the start of a new series, it is a step in the right direction. If it indeed acts as a series finale as promised, then the franchise can exit stage left with honor. Best of all, this fifth offering allows viewers to forget that On Stranger Tides ever happened.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 Geoffrey Rush as Barbosa Pirates of the Caribbean 5 Early Reviews: A Pirates Life for Me?

Geoffrey Rush in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Next up, we have some not-so-positive reviews for Dead Men Tell No Tales:

Variety – Andrew Barker

Containing only the faintest traces of the spark that turned this once unpromising idea into a nearly four billion-dollar enterprise, Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” is a mercenary, visually unappealing exercise in brand maintenance. The franchise has lost a bit of its luster with every successive installment, but never has a “Pirates” film felt this inessential, this depressingly pro forma.

 The Guardian – Mike McCahill

Norwegians Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, fresh from the Oscar-nominated Kon-Tiki, are keener than their predecessors to spend time at sea – some consolation to anybody wondering how interested this series really is in pirating – and toss much of the ballast that clogged previous instalments overboard. Dead Men Tell No Tales moves at a faster rate of knots than any Pirates film; trouble is, nothing has really been added. It’s the same soggy ride, set to a marginally preferable speed.

THR – John DeFore

Depp remains wholeheartedly the focus of this fifth Pirates film, and saying the character’s loopy novelty has faded is like complaining that there are maggots in the below-decks gruel: You knew what you were getting when you came aboard. Despite its limp zingers and a phoned-in star performance, this episode — directed with little distinction by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, of 2012’s Kon-Tiki — hits enough familiar notes to continue its predecessors’ commercial success, keeping a small city’s worth of VFX artists employed until Depp decides he can’t be bothered any more.

There are more positive than negative reviews for Dead Men Tell No Tales at this point in the game, yet critics on both sides of the aisle seem to be indicating that it might be best that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise call it a day while it’s still ahead, with this fifth chapter. Those who worked behind the scenes on Dead Men Tell No Tales are refraining from ruling out a Pirates of the Caribbean 6 just yet, even though trailers and TV spots for the film have suggested that this movie will serve as a finale of sorts for the series.

Audiences, of course, will get the final say on whether or not they want more Pirates adventures. Dead Men Tell No Tales is projected to open with $90 million at the U.S. box office this weekend, but the expensive blockbuster still has a ways to go after that, before it becomes a profitable venture for the Mouse House. All things considered though, if this is the end for Captain Sparrow and friends, then at least it sounds like Dead Men Tell No Tales will end their run on a stronger note that On Stranger Tides managed to do.

NEXT: Will Pirates of the Caribbean 5 Succeed at the Box Office?

Source: Various (see the above links)

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