Even without taking into account the star’s plummeting popularity off-screen, it seems clear that this Disney ride-inspired series has become a project of diminishing returns.
The fifth in the series sees the ‘Mordecai’ star reprising his role of renegade pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, who claims to have based his portrayal on Keith Richards (even if he actually sounds like a 1970s David Bowie). This time around, he’s vying with resident arch-villain Barbarossa (Geoffrey Rush) for the Trident of Poseidon, a special thing that can reverse curses. Got all of that, ie not much?
Here’s what the critics have to say…
Is this really only the fifth entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise? It feels like the 50th – bloated, boring, repetitive, draining... Will this be the last ‘Pirates’ epic? We fear not. Abandon ship, audiences. Paying cash money to see ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’ is the equivalent of walking the plank.
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... as drunken, dissolute, sporadically decipherable pirate Captain Jack Sparrow. [Johnny Depp’s] performance here is no better and no worse than in his previous two or three outings, though what once was a bracingly anarchic approach is starting to feel a bit old hat, like a standup comic rehashing vintage punchlines for cheers of recognition, rather than laughs.
Johnny Depp’s career walks the plank with a laboured return as the hapless pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow.
Six years after the swashbuckling fantasy franchise last set sail, this new voyage charts a course as rigidly defined as the Disney theme park water ride the first film was based on... Setting a mercifully brisk pace for the often long winded adventures, the story reaches a safe berth in a little over two hours. But as for the wild seas of ambition, it refuses to push the boat out.
The series has entered its Muppet Babies or Scrappy-Doo phase, with all the pop-cultural heft that implies.The cracks in the hull become unignorable.
The fifth Pirates feels a little empty, haunted by the spectre of what came before. There are fun, inconsequential moments but nothing particularly memorable, the film running out of steam midway through.