Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Poster Image
Talented cast can't save tired, action-heavy franchise.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 129 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 26 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 53 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Despite the fact that pirates are, by definition, thieves, the movie offers positive messages about the unconditional love between parents and children -- as well as how women are worthy of respect and consideration for their intelligence and expertise. Themes include teamwork and courage.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Carina is an intelligent, logical, curious young woman who's willing to risk her safety to find the answers she's looking for. Henry is also smart and courageous and selflessly wants to break his father's curse. Pirates in general are iffy role models, but Jack Sparrow remains a character apart.


Plenty of action violence, with a high body count. People die on burning boats, from hand-to-hand combat, sword fighting, shoot-outs, etc. Lots of fighting sequences. Drownings. Salazar slits pirates' throats and has entire ships killed except for one to live to tell the tale. Creepy supernatural villains.


Kisses. Captain Jack makes countless innuendos and jokes with double meanings. Carina undresses down to her long underwear to jump in the water, and Henry marvels that he saw her ankles. There's a back-and-forth when Carina says she's a "horologist," which the pirates believe has something to do with "whore."


"Witch," "wench," "horologist" (said as if it were "whore"), "damn," "hell."


Nothing in the movie itself, but there's a lot of Pirates-themed merchandise, video games, apparel. And, of course, there's the tie-in to the Disneyland ride.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jack is drunk for much of the film, particularly the first half. He drinks a lot of rum.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the fifth Pirates film starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. It focuses on a mission Sparrow shares with Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) -- the only son of earlier franchise stars William Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), neither of whom appears much in the film. This time around, an older, drunker (he downs a lot of rum) Sparrow faces yet another great enemy: the ghost of a pirate-killing Spanish captain, Salazar (Javier Bardem). As usual for this series, expect lots of action violence and a high body count, with lots of close-range sword-fighting and killings (Salazar only ever leaves one man alive aboard a ship). People die in gun battles, from drowning, via burning, and from having their throats slit. The romance is light and limited to Sparrow's innuendos, some double-meaning jokes, and a couple of kisses. Language is mild, mostly limited to "damn" and "hell." Despite the popularity of this franchise -- and the fact that it offers messages about unconditional family love, women's intelligence/worth, and teamwork -- it's still too scary for young kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySorley K. May 28, 2017
Adult Written byevie_pevensie May 26, 2017

More laughs than the rest

While I absolutely loved this new addition to the Pirates of the Caribbean series, it wasn't my absolute favorite but close. I didn't think it was ti... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 27, 2017

Decent Penultimate Entry for the Pirates Series

The cast was good enough, the story tied up many loose ends, and the effects were amazing. We do “lose” a major character near the end, but it unlike in Guardia... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byIlkWB123 June 7, 2017

Not a masterpiece, but entertaining

I found Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales to be an entertaining film through and through, like the previous Pirates films. All of the films but... Continue reading

What's the story?

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES follows two young, intelligent treasure-seekers who must form an uneasy alliance with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) to look for the one thing that will help each of them make peace with their fathers. One of them is Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the 19-year-old son of Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley, unseen) and William Turner (Orlando Bloom), who's now the cursed captain of The Flying Dutchman and can only go ashore once every 10 years. Henry believes that the mythical Poseidon's Trident can break Will's curse. So he teams up with astronomer Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), who's accused of being a witch because of her scientific knowledge. After both Carina and a down-on-his-luck Jack Sparrow (who has no ship, no crew, and no lingering fortune) are saved, the trio sets off to find the Trident. But not only are they being hunted by the Royal Navy -- who wants all three of them to hang -- but also by a more menacing crew of Spanish ghost sailors who were condemned to die because of a young Sparrow. The pirate-killing Spanish ghost captain, Salazar (Javier Bardem), wants to find and kill Jack, but he can't step on land. So Salazar allows Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to help him track down Sparrow -- and the Trident.

Is it any good?

Despite the fun cameos, talented cast, and Sparrow's familiar rum and innuendo-laden jokes, this movie proves that some franchises need to just end. Certainly there's a certain amount of humor to enjoy in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, particularly the sort that pays tribute to Sparrow's love of drink and women -- not to mention a celebrity cameo in which Jack thinks he's bumping into his father (Keith Richards, if you recall) in a Caribbean prison but instead realizes it's his uncle, played by arguably the most famous English singer alive. But that moment can't make up for a sloppy plot that's both convoluted and ridiculously convenient. For example, Carina may not be a real witch, but there is one, played by Golshifteh Farahani, and she manages to help whomever, whenever, for apparently no reason at all. And then orphaned Carina finds her father in the most obvious of places.

It's hard to have ill will toward toward a film franchise that can be such fun when it get things right, but at this point, these films are just formulaic. And without Knightley and Bloom as the young lovers, even the romance feels forced. Thwaites and Scodelario are both attractive, sure, but there's so more to developing romance than throwing two beautiful people in the same scene. There's just not much there, love-story wise. And the same can be said for the movie as a whole. Naturally, Bardem is always up for playing a compelling villain, but Salazar's laser-focused need for vengeance against Sparrow is borderline pathetic. It's obvious that even his own crew of pirate-killing ghost sailors wants him to get over it. It would be wonderful to think this is indeed the final Pirates movie, but considering the box-office rewards, it's possible Depp will be starring in sequels until he looks like Richards.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. How much of it is necessary to the story? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?

  • Which characters are role models in this movie? How do Carina and Henry display courage, curiosity, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

  • How is drinking depicted in the movie? Is it treated lightly? What message does that send?

  • What's the appeal of the character of Captain Jack Sparrow? Do you think that appeal is as strong as it's always been?

  • What role do fathers play in the story? Why do you think fractured, missing father-child relationships are so prevalent in hero stories?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love pirates

Themes & Topics

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