REVIEW / ACTION-FANTASY
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 5: SALAZAR'S REVENGE (PG13)
125 minutes/Now showing/ 2.5 stars
The story: Henry (Brenton Thwaites), son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), is determined to free his father from the curse that keeps him bound to the sunken Flying Dutchman. The only way he can do this is to find the fabled Trident Of Poseidon, which grants its owner power of the seas. But others - including astronomer Carina (Kaya Scodelario), the pirates Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and the wealthy Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) - are after the treasure as well.
This movie is a lot of things: A soft reset of the series; a flailing Depp coming back to a character with safe, familiar appeal; introducing new lovebirds and saying goodbye to older mainstays.
New-to-the-franchise directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg made sure to pack in the stuff that made the franchise work, such as ghostly visual effects, most notably seen in Salazar's face and Depp's Buster Keaton-style physical comedy.
There is never a dull moment. The film is marked by a large action set-piece every 10 minutes - a pirate raid, an audacious theft of a bank, a sea battle featuring cannons, smoke, swashbuckling and swordplay.
The problem is that none of it is fresh; larger helpings of stale ideas cannot mask the thinness of the storytelling. Carina (Scodelario) and Henry (Thwaites) are carbon copies of Will (Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), down to their personalities - Carina is a headstrong woman unconstrained by norms of ladylike behaviour, while Henry is a good-hearted sailor.
It is a little ironic that this attempt to capture the magic of the first movie (2003) leaves no room in its two hour-plus run time for the element that made the first movie in the series a standout: characters that had fun with one another.