Since Hollywood loves a nostalgic reboot, it’s no surprise that “Pirates of the Caribbean” is setting sail once again, six years after 2011’s “On Stranger Tides.”
For this film, subtitled “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” Disney has hired a lesser-known Norwegian filmmaking duo, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who helmed the 2012 adventure film “Kon-Tiki.”
What they’ve delivered is a cookie-cutter “Pirates” movie.
“Dead Men Tell No Tales” is a strictly color-by-numbers affair.
Mix one swaggering, slurring, Johnny Depp (heavy on eyeliner), one headstrong young lass in a cleavage-baring corset, and one noble, handsome upstart. Fold in a waterlogged supernatural villain, then haphazardly sprinkle a daring heist, an execution escape, and nautical battles. Finish with an outlandish denouement.
The story concerns young sailor Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), determined to free his father, Will (Orlando Bloom), from a watery cursed existence.
Henry believes the notorious Jack Sparrow (Depp) will help him find the trident of Poseidon to break the curse. It’s a wonder anyone thinks Sparrow can do anything in his rum-sodden state, but Turner links up with the soggy old pirate and a young woman, imprisoned for witchcraft (read: science),
Carina (Kaya Scodelario), who claims to have the Map No Man Can Read, a diary of astronomical
instructions that she believes will lead them to the trident.
They just have to escape Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), a Spanish captain doomed to a ghostly existence by Sparrow. He’s been working out his frustrations pillaging Captain Barbosa’s (Geoffrey Rush) fleet, making his way to Sparrow.
Carina leads this whole brigade with her map to the stars. Despite following her, no one actually believes she knows she’s talking about. It’s frustrating, but also gratifying, when she is eventually able to prove herself right _ ultimately, this is a film about men not believing women.
As charming buffoon Sparrow, Depp walks the line between hero and damsel in distress, but one can’t help but think that his performance here works only because of the groundwork laid in prior “Pirates” pictures – previous punchlines included.
Rønning and Sandberg have a faculty for dry-land sequences, full of Buster Keaton-style feats of physics. A bank vault robbery references a similar stunt from “Fast Five.”
But their ocean-bound action leaves something to be desired. Ghost ships loom out of the night fog, unfurling and attacking like a giant centipede filled with half-faced warriors. The geography and timelines are confusing; all is lost in a grayish CGI blur.
— Katie Walsh
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Starring: Johnny Depp, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom
Written by: Jeff Nathanson
Directed by: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
Running time: 2 hours, 9 minutes