Stale ideas, thin storytelling

Johnny Depp in Pirates Of The Caribbean 5: Salazar's Revenge. The film is marked by a large action setpiece every 10 minutes and packed with ghostly visual effects.
Johnny Depp in Pirates Of The Caribbean 5: Salazar's Revenge. The film is marked by a large action setpiece every 10 minutes and packed with ghostly visual effects.PHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

There is plenty of action in Pirates Of The Caribbean 5: Salazar's Revenge, but nothing fresh in the latest movie in the series

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 pirate 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; an introduction of new lovebirds; and a goodbye to older mainstays.

New-to-the-franchise directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg made sure to pack in the stuff that made the films 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 setpiece 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline 'Stale ideas, thin storytelling'. Print Edition | Subscribe