Vastly entertaining, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" --- number five in the series --- once again stars the irrepressible Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Any naysayers regarding this franchise must see this one --- in 3D, too --- before passing judgment.


Jack is back in fine drunken form, and before too long, he and his motley crew are up to their usual hi-jinks, this time stealing the new supposedly impenetrable vault from the premier bank on the island of St. Martin. When this super-duper contraption is opened in full view of the townspeople, Jack is already inside, of course, snoozing amongst the gold with the wife of the town's mayor.


What ensues is a ridiculous, but ultimately hilarious, theft --- not just the vault, but the entire bank building being dragged through the streets of the village by wild horses. It's the conclusion of this merry chase which elicits the most laughs.


Brenton Thwaites also stars as Henry, a sailor in the Royal Navy, trying to save his father. He teams up with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) to find the Trident of Poseidon, which as legend has it, will release all the curses of the sea. This duo forms a tenuous pact with Jack to find the elusive treasure.


But Jack and the charming pair have bigger problems. The ghost sailors led by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem, juicy in a supremely nasty way) are looking to exact revenge against a young Jack (Anthony De La Torre) for his part in luring them into the cursed Devil's Triangle. Salazar has enlisted the aid of Jack's other nemesis, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush --- my fav), who is only too happy to help put an end to Captain Sparrow.


For those of you who are pooh-poohing all of this --- David --- remember, these films were originally made for children. And though "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" is fairly violent and Captain Salazar and his merry band of see-through sailors can be frightful at times, this still is a franchise based around the Disney amusement park ride. So stop being such a pain and so negative!


Depp is terrific. It's been stated by some that he's merely going through the motions. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Perhaps in the last installment, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011), but not here. He has come out anew, much like his performance in the original, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl", for which he received an Oscar nom for Best Actor. Jack Sparrow may be a second skin for him, but he's delightfully, boozily amusing --- a perfect example of an identifiable character.


Hands down, Bardem is one of the best villains --- ever. He was memorable as the maniacal Silva in "Skyfall" (2012) and he certainly doesn't disappoint playing the uber-wicked Captain Salazar, whose cracked face and bloody lips would terrify even the vilest of pirates. And best of all, you can tell these actors had a blast making this movie, especially Rush who has starred alongside Depp in all five films. I think I enjoy him almost as much as Depp --- he's just that good at being Barbossa.


Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg have amassed an impressive --- and rather large --- crew to fulfill their vision of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales". The special and the visual effects are astounding, and alone make it worthwhile to see this spectacle. The ghost sailors are phenomenal, along with the parting of the ocean as Sparrow's ship, the Dying Gull, skims along the edge dangling an anchor into the abyss --- truly marvelous. Composer Geoff Zanelli's score packages the experience beautifully, along with cinematographer Paul Cameron's gorgeous capture of the sea and sunsets.


People who complain that it's the same old thing just don't get it. Those of us who love this adventurous scallywag don't care. It's silly, great fun --- and in this political climate, it's exactly what we need!


Opinion: See It Now!




Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush, "Pirates of the Caribbean" mainstays, are at it again in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales". This time around the duo is joined by Javier Bardem as the leader of the ghost pirates who are under a curse which renders them with partially removed heads and body parts. Even their bird mascots have missing pieces.


There is the usual frequent banter by Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp), and the customary snarling by Captain Hector Barbossa (Rush). New to the franchise is 27-year-old Aussie heartthrob Brenton Thwaites, and 25-year-old British actress Kaya Scodelario. He's very good, she's miscast because she is not the raving beauty we're used to seeing, like Keira Knightley.


The special effects are worthy of an Oscar nomination, but the story is essentially ho-hum. There are a few surprises, so fans will be intrigued with those. But I can't recommend this film to anyone but  "Pirates" diehards, and Johnny Depp devotees like Jeanne and our daughter, who accompanied us to the screening.


The most remarkable aspect of our screening occurred after we left the theater. It was held at LA's landmark El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, and the first celebrity star I stepped on, as I left the lobby, belonged to Javier Bardem. You can't write this stuff.


Opinion: Wait for DVD