Beware the summer season tentpole franchise that purloins its opening action sequence from a one-off gag in Carl Reiner’s The Jerk and then drags it on for a full 15 minutes. So it goes with this fifth and – if the cinema seas be sane – final entry into Disney’s Pirates series, which has grown as long in the tooth as those titular dead men who don’t so much tell a tale as they do gurgle on, overflowing with expeditionary asides and much watery dialogue. Beachcombing in a hurricane is surely a more entertaining way to get your booty on compared to Captain Jack Sparrow’s (Johnny Depp) latest voyage.
Gore Verbinski’s 2003 original, The Curse of the Black Pearl, was a lusty, swashbuckling, and altogether wonderful goof, with Depp melding bits of everyone from Keith Richards to pal Hunter S. Thompson into his gonzo interpretation of the ocean’s most disreputable (and inebriated) skull-and-boner. The joke has worn thin in the intervening 14 years, and this incomprehensible odyssey to find Poseidon’s mythical trident and break “all the curses of the sea” is little more than a hodgepodge of poorly penned quippery attached to a pair of hoary Star Wars-y subplots involving pirates and their long-separated offspring. Even Bardem, as the captain of a Spanish warship who was lured to his undead doom by that rascally Sparrow back when Mr. Depp was stuck on 21 Jump Street – and thanks to digital de-aging, we get to see the budding pirate Jack at that age; disconcerting to say the least – can’t salvage this Hesperian wreck. Methinks there were a few necessary paydays involved for the cast to board this floating bilge-pile, although Rush, as Sparrow’s nemesis Captain Barbossa, certainly does seem to be enjoying himself. That can’t be said for the rest; even Depp appears to sleepwalk, or rather drunk-stagger, through the entire film. Better to scupper this armada of waterlogged mediocrity as soon as possible. This ship has sailed, sank, and not to put too fine a bowsprit on it, sucks.
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