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Old Johnny Depp wears the eyeliner again, running away from an immortal pirate-hunter portrayed by Javier Bardem in Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Looking quickly at Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales full movie, in which the son of the franchise’ Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley characters unites with a mysterious orphan to master the sea’s hidden mysteries and do what his predecessor could not, you might as well brand it Pirates The Next Generation. But different from the Star Trek series-extender, this one is nowhere near brave enough to believe it can give up its aging main: Johnny Depp’s cartoonishly louche Keith Richards-meets-Hunter Thompson pirate Jack Sparrow, the internationally known caricature who by now seems more like a theme-park mascot than a Hollywood braggery.
Depp remains devotedly focused on this fifth Pirates movie – Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales, and claiming the character’s crazy novelty has gone away is like complaining that there are maggots in the below-decks gruel: You knew what you expected when you came on board. This movie – directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, of 2012’s Kon-Tiki – hits enough familiar notes to extend its predecessors’ achievement, keeping a small world’s worth of VFX artists busy until Depp decides he can’t do it anymore.
Like the franchise’ heroes, who always deal with devious spells cast by ancient Aztecs, Davy Jones or overeager corporate executives, these movies are accompanied with an exotic curse: The first film was simply much more interesting than those based on an overstuffed kiddie ride should be, and tries to recapture that sense of surprise are condemned to look despairing or hacky. The closest the sequels ever were is in their artistic imagining of storybook wonder, where a very high bar was set by the origin. Remember those doomed sailors in the first pic who, when under moonlight, were revealed to be skeletons? Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales full movie brings us a crew, led by Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar, who appear like you assaulted each one randomly with a digital eraser – turning an elbow and forearm to thin air, for example, while a sword-wielding hand still active where it should be. Some of his followers lack jaws or cheekbones or even whole heads, but Salazar has his full set of mandibles, which he excitedly uses to chomp down on any in his way.
Salazar is this film’s main villain, who from the beginning descends on a Royal Navy vessel that has sailed too close to the Devil’s Triangle. “Who are you?” asks a petrified sailor. “Deeeaaath” Salazar screams. Salazar murders all the crew but one: Henry (Brenton Thwaites), the now-grown son of Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner and Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann. And when it appears that Henry has been finding Dad’s old friend Jack Sparrow, Salazar gives him a message to send to the man whose magic compass is somehow the key to his everlasting imprisonment: I’ll be whole again someday, and when I am, you’re dead.
Soon, we see Captain Sparrow trade that magic compass for a bottle of booze on the island of Saint Martin. He has been through enough through a quite hilarious bank robbery-gone-wrong, an exaggerated farce that seems to have cost him the few pals who’d always loyal to him and brought him some new ones: Henry, who wants to help Sparrow find Poseidon’s trident – which has the ability to “break any curse at sea”, including the one that cursed Will Turner to forever duty on the Flying Dutchman; and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a self-taught astronomer kept in a magic book that might show the way.
Scodelario, of the Maze Runner movies and Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights, is just about the only member of the cast who appears to believe she’s believed to be more than a thin usual functionary or ostentatious scene-stealer which is unlucky, due to how Jeff Nathanson’s performance often treats her. In her first sequence, Carina is in prison waiting for execution, and while she’s entirely capable of picking the lock, she waits to do it until a priest comes to hear her final words. Why? Probably because there’s no other way to show she’s a badass. When her escape pushes her into the mess Sparrow’s making outside, she insists that she’s not looking for trouble. “What a horrible way to live,” Depp mocks her, and audience will recall events at which the actor might have made that witty and enchanting.
Things continue noisily from here, as the chase for the Trident attracts old Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who was practically choking on riches before Salazar got away from the Devil’s Triangle and began killing all the pirates he saw. Whether he’s on Sparrow’s side or not is forever in doubt. But Rush will wind up the focus of one of the image’s more pleasing set-pieces, an incredible escape evoking everything from The Ten Commandments to the fondly cheesy blacklight decorations that turn cheap amusement-park attractions into creepy world of mystery. However manipulative this climactic scene may seem, you can see how it might convince a better-than-this thespian to trust that he can have fun while gaining that huge paycheck. As for what might draw Bloom and Knightley back in Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales, doing nothing other than connecting the first few films to the ones Disney dreams will come? See the said paycheck.