Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally
Director: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg
Six years after the excreable Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides stank up the cinema, Johnny Depp's besozzled pirate buffoon Captain Jack Sparrow is back.
This time, when Henry Turner (Thwaites), the son of Orlando Bloom's Will Turner, finds Jack, it's a desperate race against time. Henry wants to save his father by finding the mythical Trident of Poseidon and using it to lift the curse on his seabound father, but for Jack it's a matter of life and death as he's being pursued by undead nemesis Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem, a welcome presence to the franchise).
With a crew of undead sailors on his trail, and some familiar faces along for the ride, it'll take all of Jack's wits to escape this predicament.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has moments of life that energise the flagging franchise.
But unfortunately, it also has large swathes of sequences that really stop this latest (and potentially final) entrant finding its own sea legs.
With an overly-convoluted plot, and some murky scenes that are ruined by the curse of the dark 3D projection, the film, despite the work of its Kon-Tiki directors, struggles to really make much of a case for carrying on the franchise and yet also proffers barely any reason why this would remotely feel like closure for all bar two of the characters.
Depp once again channels some pratfalls and sight comedy as he works a pirate version of mumbling and bumbling like a Rowley Burkin QC out-take, and there's a wildly indulgent cameo from Paul McCartney shoe-horned in for no real gain, other than to tip a wink to the audience.
Coupled with a truly atrocious sequence of ginger fat-shaming, there are large sections of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales which fall flat and feel unnecessarily stale, adding to a nagging feeling that this series is definitively lost at sea.
However, there are some moments of gold within the film.
A late sequence where Depp, Thwaites and Scodelerio are pursued by a combination of ghost pirates and ghost sharks showcases what has made portions of the series so endearing. With its mix of quick quips, speedy wordplay, and a sense of derring-do, amid large lashings of spectacle, this is one piece that really stands head and shoulders above and showcase exactly why when Pirates is given some levity, it's got wind in its dramatic sails and a heart and soul which are hard to beat.
But there's not enough of this ensemble action to power the film along, with Depp's Sparrow at varying points being the lead or circling the action; it's this inconsistency that lags throughout and marks the writing of this one as a bit lazier and a little weaker than is to be expected.
Bardem and Rush bring the dramatic edges to the fore and their gravitas and dignity stop the whole thing from falling into chaos; unfortunately, Thwaites isn't strong enough to leave a lasting impression as Turner's son and Scodelario's scientist woman, labelled a witch, is given a fair bit to do at the start and has some great scenes where she holds her own, but becomes lost at sea in the latter sequences, before being saddled with an unlikely coincidence too far.
For a fifth outing in the franchise, this isn't as bad as some of the others which have sailed into multiplexes from the series, but at the end, with a few loose ends wrapped up, it does feel like it's not disingenuous to say it's time to put this pirate to rest, before all goodwill generated is drained quicker than a quart of rum amongst a group of swashbucklers.