Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns for the 5th Pirates film in another densely plotted tale of double crosses and derring-do. This film feels in part an homage to the original with an undead pirate (Javier Bardem) chasing Jack Sparrow whilst a young couple (Brenton Thwaites and Kayla Scodelario) uncover the secret of the curse.
This installment also has the confusing quirk of being called different names in different regions. (If you want evidence of this, check out the poster I have embedded in this review). The opening moments dramatically end with Bardem’s Salazar uttering Dead Men Tell No Tales only for the titles to appear and tell us this is Salazar’s Revenge. But aside from the question of which is the better title, have they made a decent film following the diminishing returns of films 2, 3 and 4?
It is certainly better than On Stranger Tides, but I would be hard pushed to suggest it’s better than the opening trilogy. Its best aspects are few and far between, Scodelario makes a good impression as a woman of science driven to finding a map that no man can read, Bardem is fairly menacing as a villain that sometimes sounds like Darth Vader under some impressive visual effects and there is a fun cameo from Paul McCartney. And it’s poorer aspects are retreads of the series general failures. It is impossible to understand the lore of this universe, magic compasses, tridents and curses all seemingly being made up as we go along. Thwaites makes little impression as one of the new leads and Depp feels more and more like a parody of himself. In the original film, there was a hint that Sparrow knew what he was doing, now he’s just a buffoon. And finally, perhaps most damagingly the characters motivations seem poorly fleshed out. Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) has little reason to get back on the ocean, but does so anyway and a new substitute British Captain played by David Wenham seems superfluous entirely, other than the need to have the British navy chasing them as per the original film.
Mediocre at best overall. If you stay to the very end of the credits you will also be treated to a very lacklustre sting suggesting more sequels.