Have you seen the trailers and the TV spots for Johnny Depp’s fifth performance as Captain Jack Sparrow? If you have, then you’ve seen the best parts of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Even though a valiant effort is made, it’s apparent that the milk from this cash cow has gone bad.
We’ll start with what’s good. First and foremost is Depp as Sparrow. Johnny has always walked a fine borderline of inebriation with the character, but in this installment he’s full-blown lush as his beloved Black Pearl is stuck in an empty rum bottle and he’s stuck on land with a shipless crew. After a botched robbery, Sparrow finds himself facing the gallows (again) and a trademark improbable escape. You can figure out the rest because, let’s be honest, you’ve seen this movie before. Geoffrey Rush returns as Barbosa, now a pirate king carrying the blade of Blackbeard. And he has a special connection Carina Smyth, played by Kaya Scodelario. Rush is always a treat, and the magic is still there whenever he shares the screen with Depp. The new baddie of the franchise, the cursed Captain Salazar, is brought to life by Javier Bardem and played with a barely restrained rage as he searches the seas for Sparrow. Add in Paul McCartney’s cameo, and there are quite a few glimmers in this barnacled offering.
With so much that’s so good, what could be so wrong? Well as it turns out, everything else. The story is a retread of Curse of the Black Pearl but not nearly as fun. This time around, they’re searching for the Trident of Poseidon in order to, you guessed it, lift a curse. The characters of Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) and Smyth (Scodelario) leave no impression and serve no real purpose beyond giving Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley an excuse to show up. There’s even a romantic subplot for Turner and Smyth, but it’s so generic and predictable that you’re actually happy to see Turner’s parents make their return.
All in all, this new adventure is 2.5/5. It connects the dots and colors in the lines like it should, and fans will appreciate the service it pays them (even the post-credit scene). The franchise is based off a theme park ride, and at about half-way through you’ll be wondering when the ride will be over. If you have to see it, catch a matinee.