Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem dive into Universal's 'Dark Universe'

Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar is one of few standout performances

Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar is one of few standout performances

Rather than stories, the series, of which this 2017 entry is the fifth, offers an unpalatable mix of mincing slapstick, rote derring-do, ponderous CGI, whiskery sea-chantey mysticism, and dutiful action sequences whose only narrative goal is to scramble the cast. It's an honor to play a woman that is so layered and so interesting because I don't know a single female who isn't. Daylong and bloated, the Pirates pictures have always been something like the treasure hunts at their centers - persevere and you may find some payoff. It also seemed meant to slim down a series that had grown tediously overstuffed, but it still ran north of 130 minutes. More grievously, a lot of it feels much too coincidental. Tom Cruise gets that ball rolling with this summer's The Mummy, while Bride of Frankenstein (directed by Beauty and the Beast vet Bill Condon) is set to arrive in February of 2019.

Salazar wants to kill Jack because Jack's the one who trapped Salazar in the Devil's Triangle, which turned Salazar into a creepy undead creature with parts of his face missing and flowing hair that moves around as if he's forever standing in front of a Beyonce concert wind machine, so there you have it.

The nefarious, and now absurdly wealthy, Capt. Hector Barbossa returns as what Australian actor Geoffrey Rush refers to as a "corporate CEO".

In reality, it's Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg that brings much of the fun and adventure back into the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. This time around he's being pursued by Captain Armando Salazar, a ghost from Captain Jack's past. Brenton Thwaites plays Henry Turner, the teenage son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, the loving couple played by Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in the first "Pirates' movie".

Andrew Barker, Variety: "Lackluster as it is, Dead Men Tell No Tales is not an aggressively unpleasant time at the cinema". Then again there are some lines that are, well, worthy of a facepalm or two. "I have to walk up stairs for all this?" There is a point in the story where I can relate to him.

"Brian Truitt, USA Today: "...has its rocky moments but also offers an engaging tale with family legacies, above-average swashbuckling and a fantastic new villain courtesy of Javier Bardem". Alas, Sparrow turns up something like twelve minutes in, in what is admittedly his best entrance since the original.

Talking of sharks, there is a very good action sequence involving zombie white sharks attacking Jack and Henry (like Planet Earth on Steroids) which is exciting but maybe a little scary for small children, although the film does have a 12A certificate. As far as the newbies go, Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner) shows real spark and spunk as a young astronomer (this being the 17th century, the men all naturally think she's a witch) while Brenton Thwaites (Oculus) is somewhat more bland but pleasantly earnest as a fellow on a mission with a connection to Jack's past adventures. The first thing they do is give you coffee.

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