PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES gets 5.5/10 Rum and bones

Directed by Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
Staring Johnny Depp, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Javier Bardem

5.5/10 

To attempt to save his father from the curse of the Flying Dutchman, young Henry Turner (Brenton Twaites) sets out to find Poseidon’s Trident, an artefact said to be capable of breaking all the curses of the sea. To do this he must locate the one man he believes capable of finding the treasure, the pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Unfortunately his quest sets him though the Devil’s Triangle where he, as the lone survivor of an attacked ship, is given a threatening message of vengeance by the ghostly Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) to deliver to Sparrow. Soon Turner, Sparrow, and the falsely accused witch Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), must use the “map no man can read” to find the treasure before Salazar, the English Navy (this time captained by the underused David Wenham), or the pirate Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) can catch them.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales marks a course correct from On Stranger Tides (2011), with the series returning to the initial narrative. It continues the story from the original three films, with Thwaites’s character being the child of Turner and Swan. As such there’s a lot here that we’ve seen before, but it at least feels in the same vein as the other films.

Trim the sails a little to produce something that quickly got to where it needed, and this would be the best Pirates film since the original. Unfortunately we are once again presented with an overstuffed script that confuses convoluted with complex. The result is somewhat lumpen, spending a lot of its time lashing itself to the original trilogy, and the rest grinding its gears in either an attempt to garner some chemistry from the interaction of Thwaites and Scodelario, or giving Depp time to mug for the camera.

When Dead Man Tell No Tales does scrape the barnacles off the hull and gets down to action, it does have some of that piratical savvy. From the bank heist, involving an entire bank being stolen (building and all), to its ocean splitting finale, its action beats manage to get the pulse racing. Along with some impressive computer effects, this at least provides an enjoyable romp when it hits its mark.

Unfortunately with each subsequent outing Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow looses a little of his shine as he shifts ever closer to caricature. Similarly Thwaites lacks the charisma and animation of Bloom, to draw audiences into the gormless Turner junior. Scodelario does what she can with the role of Carina, but has to put up with some embarrassing comedic routines as pirates misunderstand what horology is. At least we get to see Javier Bardem throw caution to the wind, and embrace the pantomime villainy of the undead Captain Salazar.

Despite its issues with pacing and overly convoluted plot, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales at least provides more entertaining swashbuckling. An average film, but one that should at least please fans of the franchise.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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