After the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga debuted to a critical shellacking, many believed the film would be a franchise-killer for the swashbruckling adventure series. (“Swashbruckling” is an industry term I just made up for Jerry Bruckheimer-produced films that include swordplay.) But because On Stranger Tides also raked in a cool billion dollars worldwide, yet another sequel was inevitable. Between the dire notices for the most recent film, the six-year gap between entries, Johnny Depp’s declining public profile, and the motivator of a financial imperative, fans braced to greet No. 5, Dead Men Tell No Tales, as more studio-mandated pap. What this article presupposes is... it might not be?

Disney held a private screening of the latest Pirates flick last night as part of their presentation at exhibitor convention CinemaCon. And to the surprise of many, the first reactions in advance of the film’s May 26 premiere were generally positive.  The Playlist’s Gregory Ellwood was in the house, and praised the new film’s effects and “heart”:

Fandango‘s Erik Davis confessed to counting himself among the contingent getting Jack Sparrow fatigue, but the film won him over:

Sean P. Means was on the scene representing the Salt Lake Tribune, and he celebrated two instances of well-selected casting:

Germain Lussier weighed in as well, recognizing the steep drop in quality across the series while engendering hope for the newest:

What a time to be alive! Pirates of the Caribbean might be good, down is up, day is night, Keira Knightley is Kaya Scodelario. Everything old is new again.

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