The Films of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg
Max Manus: Man of War
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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 25/17)
Though the shortest installment of this uniformly abhorrent series, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which follows Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow as he embarks on yet another convoluted adventure, ultimately feels just as bloated and overlong as any of its subpar predecessors – with the movie’s failure especially disappointing given the rather promising nature of its pre-credits sequence. (The movie opens with a striking, surprisingly engrossing scene detailing a periphery character’s first encounter with the central villain, Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar.) It’s apparent almost immediately that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’ biggest deficit is Depp himself, as the actor has long-since transformed his iconic protagonist into a hopelessly one-note figure with few (if any) compelling attributes – with the actor’s by-the-numbers, phoned-in performance compounded by a supporting cast that’s hopelessly lacking in compelling or interesting characters. (Even Bardem is eventually overshadowed by the overuse of CGI that seems to plague all the villains in this repugnant series.) Scripter Jeff Nathanson’s head-scratching refusal to streamline the busy narrative paves the way for a spinning-its-wheels midsection rife with pointless diversions and subplots (eg Jack is forced to marry an old associate’s ugly sister at gunpoint), and it goes without saying, certainly, that the broadly-conceived and executed third act is as tedious and endless as one might’ve feared (ie it’s just so much action). It’s ultimately difficult to understand why these dimly-lit and aggressively interminable adventure movies keep making so much money, as there’s virtually nothing within any of them designed to capture and sustain the viewer’s interest – with Depp’s lazy work here emblematic of the complete and total lack of creativity behind the scenes.