Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Argh. The fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is, like many of the characters featured in the flimsy plot, simply dead on arrival. It’s a boring retread that fails to engage or entertain – even in IMAX 3D. Some folks around me actually nodded off behind those 3D glasses, only to be jarred awake by the occasional boom of a cannon or the loud, sword-swinging, ship-to-shore combat involving pirates both dead and alive, including the drunken, buffoonish, eye-liner-wearing Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Depp’s portrayal of the quirky Captain Sparrow used to be fun to watch, even when the films’ plots made very little sense. But now, the shtick is stale. He’s become a caricature of his caricature of a character. Fourteen years after Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl turned a Disney theme-park ride into a cinematic juggernaut, it’s time for Depp to retire the Captain and get back to the types of roles that showcase his versatility.

I recently read that Depp signed on for a sixth (and perhaps final) Pirates film without ever seeing a script. He should know better – or care more. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales isn’t a terrible movie. It’s just there – adrift in the sea, wasting the talents not only of Depp – but of Javier Bardem and Geoffrey Rush as well. Bardem plays Captain Salazar, a dead guy who helms a ghost ship that attacks other vessels, always leaving just one man alive to tell the tale (or so we are told near the start of the film to justify the title). Salazar spends the bulk of his time hissing Jack Sparrow’s name in some sort of Spanish Pirate dialect. Why? I’m not really sure. He’s pissed at him for something. Meantime, Geoffrey Rush reprises his role as Captain Barbossa, another pirate with a grudge against Sparrow. They share a common goal – to find the Trident of Poseidon, which apparently holds all the power of the sea — and can bring back the dead.

Apart from the standard antics of Sparrow and his frenemies, Pirates 5 attempts to recreate the magic of the original POTC love story between Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) by introducing two new characters: their son, Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), and a young woman named Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), an astronomer mistaken for a witch. Henry and Carina have their own reasons for joining the search for the Trident and, of course, they develop a personal bond in the process. Unfortunately, they lack the chemistry of Bloom and Knightley, so the nostalgia factor fails to float. Argh again. If there truly is a Pirates 6 on the horizon, let’s just hope there’s something left to salvage, so this rickety old ride can end on a more positive note. Pirates 5 may still make oodles of dollars. But it’s not a seaworthy sequel.

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