I've been watching and re-watching the films lately and I'm learning to appreciate the first three a lot more. Gore Verbinski is a truly talented filmmaker, so say what you will about the first three films, but he does demonstrate amazing vision and imagination that makes the films fun and re-watchable. Yeah, Curse of the Black Pearl easily has the best story and structure and everything, but Dead Man's Chest and At World's End both have amped up imagination and spectacle still with many of the same great characters that makes up for it. The fourth film without him rather sucks, though, unfortunately. It has an extremely half-assed and anti-climactic ending. It was a poor attempt at mimicking the first three films. I actually rather like the first act or even half or so, but then it just dips big time in quality and lack of imagination.
Tales: -/- (have not seen it yet)
Updated with my rating for Dead Men Tell No Tales. Didn't particularly like it. Couple amusing parts and fun sequences, but overall I found it boring. The effect they used for the cursed pirates this time was lazy and dumb. Javier Bardem wasn't a particularly interesting villain. He was nothing compared to Bill Nighy.
I haven't watched the most recent Pirates movie and I don't plan to. On Stranger Tides was so awful that I can't bear to endure another Pirates movie of the same quality like Dead Men Tell No Tales reportedly is.
Yeah, steer clear. I honestly wish that I had. I think it's probably worse than I originally rated it. I'd probably put it below On Stranger Tides now. Maybe more like 3/10. Hard to say, but yeah, it pretty much blows.
When the creators of the series of the popular pirate cycle talk about their picture, they sometimes talk about it as a new beginning with young protagonists and as an attempt to re-enter the artistic water that has washed up the success of the first episode of the "Caribbean" epic.