Film review: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is yet another lumbering, plotless farce in what has to be one of the most undeservedly successful franchises in cinema history – first film excepted. These Pirate films should be rollicking campy adventures but they’re so waterlogged with cgi and so incoherently plotted that they lack both sense and charm. Also, devoid of a rich mythology, they fail as supernatural fantasies.

Somewhere in this clumsily-scripted, garish-looking, hammily-acted, nerve-shatteringly loud film are fragments of a plot that sees ghost pirate Salazar (Javier Bardem) hunting the series’ central character, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Mixed into this scenario are various uninteresting sub-plots involving the Greek god Poseidon’s magical trident, the son of barely-witnessed Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley), feisty young astronomer Carina (Maze Runner star Kaya Scodelario) and scurvy old sea dog Captain Barbarossa (Geoffrey Rush). Almost none of it makes any sense and as in the other instalments, there’s neither story momentum nor any sort of emotional connection with the characters. Any vaguely interesting plot developments are quickly squashed by outrageously over-the-top yet dull special effects.

The action set pieces are frequent but so outlandish and lacking in visceral thrills that they become tedious. Also, most of the attempts at humour fall flat so, even as a ridiculous lark, the film barely works. Occasionally, the cast are set free from the green screen and the ugly cgi and it’s a massive relief to see them out in the fresh air in a couple of vaguely attractive scenes.

One of the series’ few saving graces has been Depp’s enjoyably silly performance as perpetually sozzled reprobate Captain Jack Sparrow. Stumbling around like a cross between Dudley Moore’s Arthur and Keith Richards, he’s moderately entertaining here at least when his performance isn’t swamped by the ludicrous cgi set pieces or pompous music.

Among the other cast members Javier Baden improves matters a little in this film with a typical grinning malevolent turn as the evil phantom, Captain Salazar. Geoffrey rush chomps on the scenery as brutally as he did in the previous films and we can’t help but cringe at the thought of such a lauded actor taking on a role like this. The film also contains an ok cameo from an absolute legend of the entertainment world.

These Pirate films seems to have made themselves impervious to critical barbs so this one will no doubt secure a decent audience but it’s just a dull continuation of the previous instalments’ mind-numbing formula.

Nick’s rating: **

Genre: Fantasy/ adventure.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg.

Release date: 24th Apr 2017.

Running time: 129 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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