Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales sails into theaters Friday.
Five of the original stars are back for the fifth film: Orlando Bloom as Will Turner, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann, Kevin R. McNally as Joshamee Gibbs and Geoffrey Rush as Hector Barbossa. Newcomers include Javier Bardem as Armando Salazar, Golshifteh Farahani as Shansa, Stephen Graham as Scrum, Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth, Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner and David Wenham as Scarfield. Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg directed Walt Disney Studios' blockbuster, which Jerry Bruckheimer produced.
"The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil's Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack's only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina, a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry, a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy," the film studio says in a press release. "At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced." The MPAA gave the film a PG-13 rating for sequences of adventure violence and some suggestive content.
Here is what critics are saying about the movie:
• "The Pirates franchise has finally delivered exactly what cynics had expected all along," Variety's Andrew Barker writes. "Containing only the faintest traces of the spark that turned this once unpromising idea into a nearly four billion-dollar enterprise...Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a mercenary, visually unappealing exercise in brand maintenance. The franchise has lost a bit of its luster with every successive installment, but never has a Pirates film felt this inessential, this depressingly pro forma." Depp's performance is "no better and no worse than in his previous two or three outings," he adds. Though it's "lackluster"—especially when compared to the original film from 2003—the film "is not an aggressively unpleasant time at the cinema." Even so, "Rarely is one ever swept up in the sanitized pirate fantasy that used to be the franchise's raison d'etre—indeed, were it not for the occasional wide shots of the digitally-sweetened ocean, it would be easy to forget the film even takes place on the water."
• "Even if you haven't seen any of the previous entries in this initially entertaining but sometimes overblown and sometimes meandering Disney moneymaker, Dead Men works well enough as a stand-alone, swashbuckling comedic spectacle, thanks to the terrific performances, some ingenious practical effects, impressive CGI and a steady diet of PG-13 dialogue peppered with not particularly sophisticated but (I have to admit) fairly funny sexual innuendo," The Chicago Sun-Times' Richard Roeper writes, joking that it could have "been titled Go Big or Go Home."
• The film has its "rocky moments," USA Today's Brian Truitt writes, but it also "offers an engaging tale with family legacies, above-average swashbuckling and a fantastic new villain." Praising Scodelario's "winning charm and feisty attitude," he adds, "Action has always been a hallmark of the series, and Jack's crew pulling an out-of-control bank—yes, an actual bank—through town reminds of some of the more thrilling set pieces in the original 2003 film." Due in large part to Bardem's vengeful character, Truitt adds, "Pirates hasn't jumped the ghost shark yet. What was once a past-its-prime franchise seems to have found new life with Dead Men."
• "Depp remains wholeheartedly the focus of this fifth Pirates film, and saying the character's loopy novelty has faded is like complaining that there are maggots in the below-decks gruel: You knew what you were getting when you came aboard. Despite its limp zingers and a phoned-in star performance, this episode...hits enough familiar notes to continue its predecessors' commercial success, keeping a small city's worth of VFX artists employed until Depp decides he can't be bothered anymore," The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore writes. Scodelario "is just about the only member of the cast who seems to believe she's expected to be more than a thin generic functionary or flamboyant scene-stealer," he adds. When she meets Jack, she says she's not looking for trouble. "'What a horrible way to live,' Depp quips soggily. Viewers will recall times at which the actor might have made that funny and charming."
• "The fifth entry...is the most divertingly enjoyable since the first. A professionally crafted brew of action, slapstick and supernatural mumbo-jumbo, it's less likely to spur timepiece glances than did the last few bloated installments," The Wrap's Robert Abele writes. Jack's "tipsy-turvy antics may no longer be the freshly perfumed brine that subversively pickled what we all assumed was a craven theme-park movie (The Curse of the Black Pearl), turning it into a surprise hit," he adds. "But with the popcorn ethos that animates Dead Men Tell No Tales, he's at least treated like a reliably wiggly wind-up toy again, good for batting about, arranging into crazy positions, and countless batted-eyes double takes mixed with sloshy, cynical one-liners."
• "Dead Men isn't as shapeless and overlong as the last Pirates film, which was barely watchable and still made a billion dollars. It has a narrative line of sorts, a clear main objective (a boy wants to liberate his undead father from a curse), and a modicum of suspense," New York's David Edelstein writes. "It's stuffed to the gills with effects executed by the highest-paid artists and technicians in the business. But it's still a sorry spectacle." While Scodelario in particular "is both goofy and lovely," Edelstein argues that Depp's "perpetually slurring, unbalanced Sparrow seems too true to life to be funny. He looks so bad even his titanically dissolute role models Marlon Brando and Hunter Thompson would have thought about staging an intervention."
• "Five films in, Pirates still leaves you feeling a lot like the Magic Kingdom ride it's so famously inspired by: alternately thrilled, exhausted, and seriously regretting that last funnel cake," Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt writes, adding, "What we get is the usual mash of swashbuckling nonsense and soggy mythology: There will be romance, and revelations, and some silly gold-plated cameos (hello there, Sir Paul McCartney! And whoops, goodbye)." As for the reported cliffhanger ending, Greenblatt writes, it serves as "merely a setup for a sixth and final outing, which depends on any number of box-office contingencies—but mostly, of course, on whether Depp and Disney are able, or more likely willing, to make one last sunset sail."
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales runs 129 minutes.