Shiver me timbers!

The West Australian
Johnny Depp portrays Jack Sparrow.
Camera IconJohnny Depp portrays Jack Sparrow. Credit: AP


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush

Director Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg

Reviewer Ray Chan

Avast ye! Despite what they say, sometimes, even though the wheel ain’t broken, it does need fixing.

And so it is with the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the fifth in the franchise, which sticks to the mould so closely it feels tired and little more than a remake of all the previous instalments combined. As such, it can be pretty much a yawn-inducer for those who’ve seen it all before.

The first part of the run had certainly captivated audiences with its originality and charm. Disney cleverly brought its popular theme-park ride to life with clever, madcap visuals, ,Johnny Depp’s frenzied and foppish showboating providing something fresh.

The second built up on the success of the first, the third expanding the mythos further. But sadly, there’s only so much you can squeeze out of the swashbuckling sponge, and the substance and sparkle now seem long gone.

The backdrop remains much the same. Depp’s Jack Sparrow, still a rummed-up rascally rogue with a magic compass, teams up with a pair of young adventurers in search of yet another buccaneer’s bauble - a magical, glittery trident - while being once again pursued by a villain intent on revenge, this time a ghoulish Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar and his motley crew all keen on resuming mortality.

Throw in the bumbling British army and the return of avaricious marauder Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and the corsairs’ cauldron is complete. Mind you, Rush’s is always a stellar performance, and it’s a delight to watch him camp it up with his effusiveness, exuberance and best piratespeak.

Make no mistake, there are some moments to make you sit up and smile. One presents us the sight of Jack trapped in a rotating guillotine, his neck perilously close to the blades. Another involves a speeding horse-drawn carriage towing an entire bank, while a third features a shoal of zombiefied sharks.

But while the latter is an impressive feat of CGI, the senses are bombarded so much by the computerised graphics for the rest of the movie that the sequences are really now more prosaic than prodigious to many jaded by such effects. The big climax at the end, involving various battling brigands, gets an extended treatment intended to impress, but ultimately just serves to test one’s patience.

Indeed, the fleeting moments of brilliance merely offer temporary relief to the tediousness of the film, which spans a viewing time of more than two hours, and is also marred by a plot with enough holes to sink the sturdiest of galleons.

If you wait till the end of the credits, there’s a little teaser which promises that yet another sequel may be on the way. One can only hope that the producers find something more than just a rehash of Jack Sparrow’s greatest hits.

For, unless a new formula is found, this could be the time for the series to walk the plank.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails