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Review: 'Dead Men Tell No Tales' comes alive on 4K

Posted Friday, September 29, 2017 at 12:29 PM Central
Last updated Monday, October 2, 2017 at 6:58 PM Central

by John Couture

At some point, Disney has to retire Captain Jack Sparrow to Davy Jones' locker permanently, right? Well, that won't happen anytime soon as long as they have a game Johnny Depp and the franchise continues to rake in billions of dollars.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales didn't make a billion dollars. In fact, it is the lowest-grossing Pirates film in the franchise, but don't let that fool you. There will most certainly be the sixth installment eventually, of course, whether or not that is a good idea is open to debate.

Full disclosure, I hated On Stranger Tides, the film that immediately preceded this one. I thought then that the franchise had run its course and Johnny Depp was simply phoning it in. But, I have to admit that I enjoyed Dead Men Tell No Tales quite a bit more than I did the last one.

The injection of new blood in the forms of Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario have a fountain of youth effect on Johnny Depp's Captain Jack and suddenly his swashbuckling charm doesn't seem so played out. That being said, you have to know when the magic has run its course and I seriously hope that Disney makes the right decision and let this film be the last one in the series.

Where the last film fell flat on its face thanks to a poorly developed script, you can tell that the filmmakers spent a great deal of time to make sure they got it right. In particular, Javier Bardem as the film's big baddie brings a fresh Spanish take that not only meshes well with the other villains in the franchise but also matches the time period as well.

There is one thing that I found incredibly cool despite my better judgment. As much as I think sharks have, well, jumped themselves as a mechanism in movies, they inclusion of ghost sharks was pretty impressive. While they added a new threat that hasn't really been a part of the series before, it seems like it should have been a no-brainer to included them sooner.

I was fortunate to review the 4K UHD Blu-ray version of the film and while Disney is still new to the latest format, it's pretty clear that they are a quick study. This film, much like the earlier installments, spends a great deal of time in the dark and in shadows. These contrasts are perfect for the HDR element of the 4k UHD and you will see a noticeable difference.

The Dolby Atmos audio track is a big improvement, especially in the film's frequent action-heavy sequences. On a slightly different note (no pun intended), the audio track is able to capture the subtleties of Paul McCartney when he's performing a Beatles song during one scene. While on face value that may seem bizarre, trust me, it works in the context of the film and it is great.

Overall, this was a worthy capper to a series that has had its fair share of ups and downs. Bringing back Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley to provide closure to their arc seems like a good place to close the book, but I highly doubt this will happen. No, I'm sure that we will see several more Captain Jack adventures and time will tell if they will add something to a franchise that has already surpassed all expectations.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is now available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD.