For time out of mind, the climax of any story would be withheld until all avenues of character development and plot turnings were explored. Not any more. The diminished attention span of today’s audience and its craving for instant gratification mean that in adventure flicks such as this, the fifth of the Pirates franchise (a sixth is already in the pipeline), events are going at full throttle from the opening scene – and usually with an accompanying 500-piece orchestra hammering your eardrums.
If your sensitivities are more old-school, by the halfway point you are likely to be pleading for the mercy rule to be invoked – but in vain, for there is not a moment’s peace and quiet. And I cannot recall ever hearing an actor yell ‘aaagghh!’ at the top of his lungs as often as Johnny Depp is called upon to do as his braided Jack Sparrow jumps from the frying pan into the fire at five-minute intervals. That a state of near hysteria reigns for most of the two hours (it seems longer) is an understatement, but there are plenty of jaw-dropping visuals to keep you interested (although in my case my jaw was almost dislocated through yawning). Jack sails off in search of Poseidon’s trident, which has the power to break every old mariner’s curse.
The beautiful girl (Kaya Scodelario) has a map that only she can read, the handsome young man (Brenton Thwaites – another product of the Australian TV soapie industry) becomes Jack’s accidental sidekick, and the villain is Salazar (Javier Bardem), the dead captain of a ghost ship – his face is a miraculously grotesque work of art. When the frenetic action slows briefly for inserts of dialogue, so that you might understand the point of it all, there are enough decent one-liners to maintain the levity – although for mine, Depp’s face pulling has always been overdone – and some of the set pieces, notably Sparrow’s brush with the guillotine, are quite ingenious. Fans will love it, others might find it overblown and repetitive.