Australian Council on Children and the Media

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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Not recommended for children under 12; PG 12- 14 (Violence, Scary scenes, Supernatural themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
  • a review of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 June 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended
Children aged 12 - 14 Parental Guidance Recommended
Children 15+ Suitable for this age grouph

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Contains sequences of adventure violence and some suggestive material.
Length 129 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales begins with a brief meeting between a young Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) and his cursed father Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), captain of the Flying Dutchman. Henry tells his father that he has found a way to break his curse, but to do that Henry must find the legendary Trident of Poseidon. This is a powerful artefact capable of destroying any sea based curse as well as bestowing total control over the sea to the one who possesses it. Unfortunately for both Will Turner and his mortal son Henry, no one is able read the only map in existence leading to the location of the Trident.

Several years later, Henry Turner, now a young man, is still searching for the trident. Through a series of chance events, Henry teams up with the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and a young woman named Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario). Carina is a star gazing scientist who has been condemned for being a witch, however, she not only has a map that shows the way to the Trident, but also the ability to read the map. To complicate matters, Henry is not the only one searching for the Trident, there are several others including: Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) who wants the Trident so that he can rule the seas; Lieutenant Scarfield (David Wenham) of the British Royal Navy wants the Trident so that Britain can rule the seas; and Captain Jack Sparrow wants the Trident to fend off a ship load of ghost pirates led by the famous Spanish pirate killer Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem). Salazar wants revenge on Jack Sparrow for the curse inflicted upon him and his crew. The race is on as to who will find Poseidon’s Trident first, and unlock its secrets thus saving the day.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Fantasy; myths and legends; Pirates; witches and witchcraft; revenge; the supernatural; fate and horology.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film Pirate of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales contains violence (occasionally brutal), action violence, peril, gun and hand weapon related violence, fantasy related violence, some mass destruction of property, some comical/slapstick violence, the depiction of multiple violent deaths including the death of a lead character, however, minimal blood and gore is depicted. Examples include:

  • A young boy rows a small boat out to sea, ties one end of a rope to some rocks as a weight and the other end to his foot. The boy throws the rocks overboard and then jumps into the sea, the rocks pulling him down to the ocean floor; the boy survives uninjured.
  • The film contains several sea battles involving pirate and British Royal Navy sailing ships resulting in large-scale death and destruction. Fire and smoke is seen erupting from cannon nozzles as they fire at enemy ships. Cannon balls fly through the air smashing into the hulls and masts of ships causing large fiery explosions with sailors thrown through the air and presumably killed.
  • Pirates kill multiple sailors by stabbing and slashing them with swords and the sound of the blade’s impact is heard.
  • A pirate impales a naval officer through the back with his sword and the sword is shown protruding from the officer’s chest. Minimal blood and gore is depicted.
  • In a more brutal act of violence a ghost pirate grabs a sailor by the throat lifts him up into the air and snaps his neck; the sounds of bones breaking are heard.
  • Copious amounts of blood (the result of slain sailors) are shown dripping through the ship’s floorboards onto the deck below.
  • A sailor is seen on fire and falls overboard into the ocean while another sailor is seen with a bloody head wound.
  • Many pirates are seen bobbing in the sea, their ship having sunk, and are begging for mercy. The captain of the attackers orders his men to shoot the pirates, which they do.
  • In one scene a young man is punched in the face, dragged away and thrown in a prison cell. In several scenes sailors and pirates are punched in the face.
  • In one comical scene a bank vault is opened revealing a drunken pirate inside. Several soldiers fire their rifles at the pirate who drops to the floor uninjured.
  • A group of pirates steal an entire bank building towing it away with horses through the town’s streets while being chased by soldiers and guards. A pirate is perilously dragged behind the bank building, which swipes numerous buildings causing mass destruction.
  • A young woman is seen running from soldiers who are firing rifles at her.
  • A soldier is heard telling a group of soldiers to hang a man and woman.
  • A man is heard telling another man to ask for a certain torturer if he is going to be disembowelled because that torturer has soft hands. Reference is also made to the man having his feet cut off.
  • Many men are shown hanging upside down on the deck of a ship. Several of the men are killed one at a time with a sword.
  • A man and young woman are seen about to be publically executed. The man is strapped to a guillotine block and sees two severed heads in a basket in front of him, while the woman stands on a gallows and has a noose placed around her neck. Just in time a cannon is fired which destroys the guillotine platform. The guillotine machine spins around with the blade narrowly missing the head of the man still strapped to it. Meanwhile the young woman falls through a trapdoor and is caught by a man standing under the gallows platform saving her from death.  
  • In one scene a man jumps from a ship’s swinging anchor to grab another man also swinging from the anchor, which results in both men falling to their death.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are many scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • One scene depicts a cursed man who has half of the side of his face grossly disfigured covered in barnacles giving him a monstrous appearance.
  • The film contains numerous images of ghost pirates and animated dead pirates in various stages of decomposition. Some are so decomposed that only half a face or torso remains while others may have part of their head missing. One ghost pirate has a face with numerous razer-like cuts that seep black blood while black blood oozes and dribbles from the sides of his mouth.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Ghost animals are depicted in various stages of decomposition including sharks and sea birds. Ghost sharks attack men in a dingy in an attempt to bite them.
  • A pirate ship is decorated with hundreds of golden skulls.
  • One man is depicted with dirty discoloured long fingernails while another man is depicted with long animal-like toenails. A Pirate has an ornate metal peg leg.
  • One young woman referred to as a witch, has a bald head with coloured lines and tattoos over her head and neck. She also has discoloured teeth and a sinister demeanour.    

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • No additional scenes or material

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • No additional scenes or material

Product placement

  • Not applicable

Sexual references

The film contains a number or sexual references and innuendo. Examples include:

  • A tongue in cheek reference is made in relation to a man’s genitals with one man suggesting that a certain ship’s captain walks in a funny way because he has one leg and eighteen pound balls; referring to cannon balls.
  • With comical intent a man is depicted without wearing his pants and we see bare legs.
  • Reference is made in relation to a woman’s breasts when a man describes a woman with a neck like a giraffe and two wonderful… (inferring breasts).
  • In relation to a non-sexual situation, a man makes the comment “I’m not paying for that” while a second man misinterprets and replies “don’t say that to any woman”.
  • A woman declares that she is a horologist (study of time), but she is misunderstood with sailors thinking she is a prostitute (‘whoreologist’).
  • When a woman removes her dress (she is wearing long underwear under the dress) a young man becomes excited saying that he can see her ankles, while a second man says “you could have seen a lot more if you kept your cakehole shut”. Later the same man says to the younger man “leave me for some ‘whoreologist’ in her knickers.
  • A woman with a noose tied around her neck falls through a gallows trapdoor and is caught by a young man below; the man’s face is level with the woman’s crotch.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • In front of a crowd, a large bank safe is opened to reveal a man and woman asleep in the safe; the reaction from the crowd infers that the couple had engaged in sexual activity. The woman stands up and runs off holding the front of her dress together revealing a degree of exposed cleavage.
  • A couple of scenes depict a man and woman kissing passionately on the lips.

 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • One of the film’s lead characters is depicted holding a bottle of rum throughout most of the film while occasionally swigging from the bottle and acting in an intoxicated manner for most of the film.
  • In one scene a bottle of rum is shot from the hand of a drunken pirate.

Coarse language

The film contains a light scattering of low-level coarse language and some name-calling. Examples include:

  • Bugger, piss off, damn, hell, and bloody.
  • Wench, gutless hoods, pathetic bilged rat, filthy pirate, pirate scum, stupid, ugly, swine, filthy beast, evil spawn, and witch.    

In a nutshell

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth film in the series, is targeted at adolescents, adults and fans of the film series. The film is loaded with the usual slapstick comedy we have come to expect from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. While Johnny Depp is as entertaining and charismatic as ever the film’s story fails to deliver the plot. Fans may be a little disappointed this time around.

 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Family love: The love of a son for his father and the love of a father for his daughter are key themes in this film with both father and son willing to sacrifice all to protect the other.
  • Selflessness: While pirates are generally depicted as selfish characters, the film does depict one of the film’s key characters, a pirate, making the ultimate self-sacrifice.

    This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.
  • One of the film’s lead characters is depicted as intoxicated throughout the film without the film depicting any real life consequences. The intoxicated man unrealistically manages to avoid all mishaps. Parents may wish to discuss some of the possible real life dangers and consequences that can result from intoxicated behaviour.  

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