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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
UK title: Salazars Revenge
dir Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg
scr Jeff Nathanson
prd Jerry Bruckheimer
with Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Kevin McNally, Stephen Graham, Paul McCartney, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley
release US/UK 26.May.17
17/US Disney 2h09
Are you for real? Scodelario and Depp
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The spirited tone of the previous movies has evaporated in this oddly heavy-handed adventure. Far too densely populated and plotted, it's impossible to follow every wrinkle of the various story strands, and the murky and overly digital design work wears us out as we try to keep up. It may feature lots of energetic action, bit it's rather dull.
We pick up the story with Henry (Thwaites), who is searching for Captain Jack (Depp) so he can get help finding Poseidon's trident, which will free his father Will (Bloom) from a watery curse. Along the way he teams up with the feisty Carina (Scodelario), who is searching for the truth about her parentage and has special seagoing navigational knowledge. Meanwhile, Captain Salazar (Bardem) also wants to get even with Jack, drawing Captain Barbossa (Rush) into the fray. With the British trading ships also in pursuit, all three captains converge in a series of scuffles.
The dialog is stuffed with explanatory details about interrelationships and the mythology (everyone seems to only have one tidbit of lore). But all of this is spoken within frantic action sequences staged on a massive scale with hundreds of digitised extras, most of whom are killed anonymously along the way. This means that all of the key information is obscured by the cacophonous mayhem, making it unclear who or what we're supposed to root for.
Depp's Jack looks increasingly like an alcoholic with serious health issues, staggering around and slurring his words. That bright, cheeky spark is now so muted that we can barely remember why we once loved this character. Bardem does what he can with the snarling Salazar, although he's obscured by his coolly drifting digital costume and makeup. The bland Thwaites and snappy Scodelario are likeable in the requisite insipid romance. While Rush adds some weight to Barbossa, stealing the show.
Directors Ronning and Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) know how to tell a story on the water, but get lost trying to sustain such a convoluted narrative in a sea of green screens. There's barely a moment here that feels like it was shot on an actual ocean. Instead, the skies are gloomy and every scene is swamped with sooty effects. The technical quality of all of this is very high, but without a story we can grab hold of, it's just a series of obnoxiously loud set-pieces peppered with witty banter.
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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