Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales brings a fresh take on a tired franchise, tying itself back into events of the first three movies in the franchise. Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow, with Geoffrey Rush as Hector Barbossa, Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner, Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth, and Javier Bardem as Salazar. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley also appear as Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, respectively, though their appearances (Knightley in particular) are hardly more than fleeting.
The fourth movie in the Pirates franchise, On Stranger Tides, was considered by critics (and most audiences) to be a confusing mess that really bore little resemblance to the original trilogy of movies. Luckily, Dead Men Tell No Tales is a much more comprehensive movie, and it brings the whole franchise right back to its origins. Not only do we learn how Jack became a Pirate Captain, but we also learn about the new characters’ heritage, and how they tie into the overall arc of Pirates of the Caribbean.
The first of the Pirates movies, The Curse of the Black Pearl, introduced us to a young Elizabeth Swann, who rescued an equally as youthful Will Turner from a burning pirate ship. From there, the pair’s romance lasts across the arc of the movies, with Elizabeth giving birth to a son, Henry, as Will heads to Davy Jones’ Locker for a ten-year stint as captain of the Flying Dutchman.
Dead Men Tell No Tales opens with a young Henry paying his dad a visit in the depths of the ocean. Though he is only ten, he knows exactly how to find his father, but as Will explains, he’s not coming back. The curse that ties him to the Dutchman cannot be lifted, and so he is destined to spend the rest of eternity transporting dead souls to Davy Jones’ locker.
Nine years later, and Henry seems to have inherited his dad’s ability to attract trouble. He’s determined to get Will back on dry land, and he knows he needs to find Jack Sparrow in order to do so. He’s learned that Posideon’s Trident will break all of the ocean’s curses, and he thinks Jack can lead him to it. The only issue is, Jack is a drunk (again), his crew have deserted him (again), and he doesn’t have a seaworthy ship (again). Well, he does, but the Black Pearl is trapped in a bottle.
Carina Smyth is a young astronomer. She’s also female, which means her intelligence is taken for witchcraft. She also seeks the Trident, because her unknown father left her a diary with instructions on where to look. The map is written in the stars, and she’s determined to locate it in order to honor him.
On the other side of the water lies Salazar and his ghostly crew. Tricked by Jack Sparrow, he is undead and trapped in Devil’s Triangle. His only hope is if Jack gives away his compass; the one that has featured in all the movies and points to the thing the owner wants most. For Jack, that is rum. He trades the compass for a bottle of it, thereby ensuring Salazar’s escape. Salazar then sets out immediately in pursuit of Jac and the Trident, aided by Captain Barbossa, who also seeks the Trident for himself.
So, then, five characters, all wanting to claim the Trident, all for differing purposes, and all connected to one another in different ways. Salazar is new to the franchise, and his story starts and ends within Dead Men Tell No Tales. We learn that Jack became a Pirate Captain after taunting Salazar and eventually leading his ship into the Devil’s Triangle, while he himself managed to escape.