The fifth and probably not final Pirates of the Caribbean film is called Dead Men Tell No Tales. The title, or any other ship-shape proverb, would prove immaterial, but for the fact that the franchise had to literally resurrect Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Orlando Bloom, some of whose characters have already died multiple times, in order to kick-start a new chapter and make a giant pile of money.
The plot is virtually the same as the original – an army of the dead, here lead by Javier Bardem, taking a break from his usual first-rate roles and probably smaller pay cheques, is hell-bent on revenge against Captain Jack Sparrow for something he did in his indeterminately lengthy past full of franchise potential. A terminally lacklustre Brenton Thwaites, who still manages to herald the best line in the film, persists in place of Orlando Bloom, while Kaya Scodelario (Effy from Skins), in lieu of Kiera Knightley, performs rings around almost the entire cast.
Dead Men Tell No Tales is marginally more enjoyable than the similarly forgettable On Stranger Tides, if only because Johnny Depp actually looks like he’s having a lot of fun this time around. An opening sequence ripped straight out of The Fast and the Furious series though joyfully recreated in the Caribbean of centuries-past remains a highlight, as well as an innovative scene with zombie sharks.
A stand-out escape sequence, utilized as with all other entries to establish the nouse of whatever character the studio has decided to make the hero, had enormous potential, with Jack evading parries with nothing but his quick wits. Forgoing practical effects to a large degree and nonetheless relying on CGI throughout to make an audiences’ mouth drop wide open, the more kinetic, fresh antics and semi-grounded thrills of the original are now a distant speck on the horizon as the series continues on its increasingly cartoonish trajectory.
Aside from the few actual times humans are required to get in front of a camera and take swipes at each other, giant figureheads come alive or ships otherwise defy even the incredulous boundaries of physics set in previous adventures, all in search of another fantastical MacGuffin.
It’s the ‘Trident of Poseidon’ for episode no.5, but it really doesn’t matter.
Produced on the Gold Coast, this film would not be complete bar the requisite presence of Australian faces, with David Wenham almost redeeming himself for his regrettable turn in Iron Fist as one of the series’ readily expendable villains. Bruce Spence also makes an appearance in a brief if hilarious role.
It’s misgivings aside, Dead Men Tell No Tales, as with the best of the other entries, is still a lot of fun – just don’t expect to be able to distinguish this one too clearly once the inevitable Pirates 6 sails around.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is in cinemas on May 25