Pi­rates of the Caribbean is long, loud and over­stim­u­lat­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - MICHAEL O’SUL­LI­VAN Wash­ing­ton Post

It’s great to have a job watch­ing — and then writ­ing about — movies. But why does “Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” have to feel so much like work?

To be sure, it’s al­ways been some­thing of an ef­fort to keep track of who’s alive or dead or un­dead in this multi-se­quel epic fea­tur­ing walk­ing pi­rate ghosts and char­ac­ters who get killed off in one in­stal­ment, only to be mag­i­cally res­ur­rected in the next — es­pe­cially af­ter what feels like eight long movies.

What do you mean, this is only the fifth one? At over 12 hours to­tal run­ning time, the “Pi­rates” saga is start­ing to make the sto­ry­telling in “The Lord of the Rings” feel fleet by com­par­i­son. And a post-cred­its stinger scene tacked onto the new film hints that “Dead Men Tell No Tales” may not be the “fi­nal ad­ven­ture” af­ter all, as trail­ers once promised. But never mind. When “POTC 5” opens, the se­ries’ dis­so­lute, chron­i­cally soused pi­rate an­ti­hero, Capt. Jack Spar­row (Johnny Depp), is still alive, even though one char­ac­ter spec­u­lates that he may not be. Yes, Depp is look­ing a lit­tle worse for wear th­ese days, but a spe­cial ef­fect, deep into the movie, uses dig­i­tal trick­ery to re-cre­ate what his char­ac­ter looked like as a young man. Like the sim­i­lar re­an­i­ma­tion of the young Kurt Russell in “Guardians of the Gal­axy Vol. 2,” it’s an im­pres­sive bit of CGI pres­tidig­i­ta­tion.

As you may re­mem­ber, Jack’s beloved ship, the Black Pearl, has been shrunk to the size of a toy, which he car­ries in a bot­tle around his neck. That hap­pened in the fourth film. (Or was it the third?) His re­place­ment ves­sel, in an at­tempt at hu­mour that epit­o­mizes the tone of the cheesy screen­play, is called the Dy­ing Gull. Other yuks fall into the cat­e­gory of mildly naughty Dad Jokes, and in­clude a ribald mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the word horol­o­gist. At an­other point, Kaya Scode­lario’s sci­en­tist char­ac­ter, re­fer­ring to a ce­les­tial chart, says, ges­tur­ing heav­en­ward, “The map is there.” To which a dimwit pi­rate replies: “At the tip of your fin­ger?”

It’s like “The Three Stooges,” only with swords.

Af­ter a ridicu­lously bloated early set piece cen­tring on a bank rob­bery — in which an en­tire build­ing is dragged through the streets of St. Martin, like a mas­sive, rick­ety sleigh — Jack’s ser­vices are sought in the re­cov­ery of Po­sei­don’s tri­dent, a mys­ti­cal tal­is­man thought to have the power to break curses.

And there are two of them in need of break­ing here: As shown in a short pro­logue, Will Turner (Or­lando Bloom) is still trapped in a state of pu­tres­cent de­cay aboard the ship­wrecked Fly­ing Dutch­man, and his son (Bren­ton Th­waites) means to free him from that fate. The other ac­cursed soul be­longs to Cap­tain Salazar, a Beetle­juice-like wraith trapped in some­thing called the Devil’s Tri­an­gle. Javier Bar­dem has a lot of fun with the role of the vil­lain, spit­ting out the name Jack Spar­row — which he pro­nounces some­thing like “Yuck Epatto” — as if it were a piece of rot­ten food. Salazar has got an old vendetta with Jack — which we find out about

later, along with one other big re­veal that feels less like a block­buster than a noth­ing­burger.

Other than that, there’s not much that you need to know (or that I can re­mem­ber, quite frankly). There are naval chase scenes and boom­ing can­nons, and more vis­ual ef­fects that you can shake a cut­lass at, in­clud­ing one scene that re­sem­bles the part­ing of the Red Sea in “The Ten Com­mand­ments.” An­other se­quence, fea­tur­ing Jack stuck in a guil­lo­tine that is twirling around and around, like a lethal fid­get spin­ner, is par­tic­u­larly fun, if also char­ac­ter­is­tic of the amuse­ment-park es­thetic of the film, which seems ca­pa­ble of in­duc­ing ex­cite­ment, ex­haus­tion and nau­sea, in that or­der.

Yes, “Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” re­mains true to its Dis­ney theme park roots. Loud, over­stim­u­lat­ing and hard to take in all in one sit­ting, it feels like the va­ca­tion that you’ll need a va­ca­tion from.

Johnny Depp as Cap­tain Jack Spar­row — his beloved ship, the Black Pearl, has been shrunk to the size of a toy.

Javier Bar­dem has a lot of fun with the role of the vil­lain in "Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."

An­thony De La Torre por­trays a young Jack Spar­row .

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