“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” is the fifth chapter in the apparently immortal franchise, and like most of us, it pretends part four (“On Stranger Tides”) never happened. But that isn’t enough to pull the series out of its tailspin. Despite the impressive special effects and spectacular visuals, though, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is a fairly charmless and wearingly frenetic sequel with a feeling of desperate obligation to it. I think (as I often do) of “Weird Al” Yankovic, whose most recent album was called “Mandatory Fun.” YOU WILL WATCH THESE PIRATE SHENANIGANS AND YOU WILL BE AMUSED BY THEM! ARE YOUR SWASHES NOT BUCKLED?!
Original director Gore Verbinski has not returned, but neither has part four director Rob Marshall. We have instead a pair of Norwegians, Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, overseeing a screenplay by Jeff Nathanson (“Catch Me If You Can,” “Rush Hour 3”) that returns us to the story of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, but don’t worry, he’s not in the movie very much). Back in part three (“At World’s End”), Turner was condemned to pilot the Flying Dutchman for eternity, and now his teenage son, Henry (Brenton Thwaites), desires to free him. To do this he needs Poseidon’s trident, which can break any sea-related curse, but to find the trident he needs a special map, but to find the map he needs a magical compass. Somehow this all means that he needs Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).
Jack, drunker than ever and lacking a ship or crew, teams up with Henry after asking leeringly about his mother (the Keira Knightley character, remember?), which is creepy and off-putting but I guess still less offensive than the behavior of actual pirates. They are joined by one Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), an orphan who’s accused of being a witch because she understands science. She has an astronomy diary kept by her father (whom she never knew) that aids in finding the map, etc.
[Continue reading at Crooked Marquee.]
C- (2 hrs., 9 min.; )