Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Movies, Action and adventure
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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The swashbuckling adventure franchise hits creative exhaustion with all involved stuck on a theme-park ride we know too well.

Despite cries to abandon ship, Pirates of the Caribbean sets sail yet again: We’re on film five now and this really is swashbuckling by numbers, with prison altercations, ghost crews, hangman’s high jinks and battle scenes that could have been lifted from earlier installments. Dead Men Tell No Tails is clearly an attempt to return to the good old days of the franchise, with an actual plot—however wishy-washy—and two new young things, played by Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites.

Scodelario is Carina, a "woman of science," a self-taught astronomer hunted on land as a witch. She’s smart and strong, but the movie is too distracted by its own kookiness for her to really get interesting. Thwaites is Henry, the bland but honorable offspring of the even blander Will and Elizabeth (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley’s characters in the earlier films). Bloom even makes a pair of brief, breathless appearances, his cheeks covered in cockles, but fans hoping for a substantial reunion with Knightley will be left hanging.

Carina and Henry are on the hunt for Poseidon’s Trident, a mythical weapon that, if uncovered, has the power to break every oceanic curse—and therefore undo the plots of the movies that came before. Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbosa ends up being the most likable character here; Javier Bardem’s pirate-hunter Salazar is all raspy one-dimensional vengeance and let’s not even talk about that Paul McCartney cameo.

Unfortunately for everyone, Captain Jack Sparrow is still slurring and staggering around the Caribbean. Whatever charm and charisma Johnny Depp once had in this role is truly lost at sea. Even the new movie's flashbacks to his youth—the origin story no one asked for, complete with CGI fresh-faced-ness—fail to reignite the love affair we once had with this hard-living pirate. Fourteen years after The Curse of the Black Pearl, he’s drunker, stupider and more of a lech. The jokes about women run aground, and watching him perve over Carina in her undergarments is repulsive rather than amusing. Avast, ye, already!

By: Ellie Walker-Arnott

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Release details

Rated: PG-13
Release date: Friday May 26 2017
Duration: 129 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
Screenwriter: Jeff Nathanson
Cast: Johnny Depp
Kaya Scodelario
Orlando Bloom
Geoffrey Rush
Javier Bardem
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