Pi­rates 5 a lengthy shark-jump­ing slog

The Leader (Tasman) - - GARDENING -

Noth­ing ever seems to hap­pen for any rea­son other than to take up run­ning time.


Back in 2003, Pi­rates of the Caribbean; The Curse of the Black Pearl seemed like an idea whose time had come. It was an out­ra­geously en­ter­tain­ing and like­able film and the first in years that had thrown the laws of com­mon sense and physics quite so joy­ously to the four winds in pur­suit of spec­ta­cle and a de­cent laugh.

Pi­rates was ex­actly what a film based on a Dis­ney­land ride had to be; fun, dumb and seem­ingly over too soon. Di­rec­tor Gore Verbin­ski made two more in­stal­ments, with the last film in the nat­u­ral tril­ogy – At World’s End – be­ing an ab­so­lute rip­per.

And with that, the se­ries re­ally should have been over. But in 2011, the truly lousy On Stranger Tides romped out of the box of­fice with a bil­lion dol­lars, and with that, this fifth film be­came an in­evitabil­ity.

Dead Men Tell No Tales, com­ing in at a mere 129 min­utes, is the short­est of the five films, but it feels like a very long slog from ti­tles to cred­its.

The film finds Johnny Depp’s Jack Spar­row in­ex­pli­ca­bly ma­rooned and down on his luck. He’s ship­less and rud­der­less much of the time, me­an­der­ing through an in­ter­minable open­ing that doesn’t re­ally achieve much but a nod to Terry Gil­liam and to in­tro­duce us to Bren­ton Th­waites and Kaya Scode­lario as the young cou­ple who will try, luck­lessly, to recre­ate Keira Knight­ley and Or­lando Bloom’s chem­istry from the ear­lier films. Th­waites is ac­tu­ally play­ing Bloom’s adult son, which ei­ther passes for myth­build­ing, or just serves to re­mind us how long now this se­ries has been run­ning.

At some point, Javier Bar­dem pops in, with an ac­cent like a sec­ond-rate ven­tril­o­quist try­ing to gar­gle mince while im­per­son­at­ing Manuel from Fawlty Tow­ers, as this in­stal­ment’s pi­rate en­emy. Bar­dem, one of the most elec­tri­fy­ing ac­tors on the planet on a good day, never re­ally man­ages to out-per­form his own makeup here.

The story, as al­ways, is a for­get­table far­rago of half-baked marine mythol­ogy and nec­es­sary set-ups for ac­tion se­quences. Noth­ing ever seems to hap­pen for any rea­son other than to take up run­ning time. A few of the set pieces are un­de­ni­ably spec­tac­u­lar, but the film never gen­er­ates any ten­sion or any par­tic­u­lar rea­son to ex­pect that any­thing in­ter­est­ing is ever go­ing to hap­pen.

There are some en­joy­able min­utes, but the ac­tual hours are pretty pun­ish­ing. Late in the day a truly daft mo­ment shows a shark jump­ing over Depp. The in­fer­ence, that ev­ery­one in­volved in this film knows ex­actly what they are do­ing here, is un­avoid­able.

Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will make a pile of money, win the fran­chise a few new fans who might now go back and watch the orig­i­nal tril­ogy and might even launch a few ca­reers. And those are all fine things. But I hope, very much, that it also brings this se­ries to an end. For good. – Graeme Tuck­ett

Johnny Depp’s Jack Spar­row re­turns for a fifth time in Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

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