PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR'S REVENGE (12A, 129 mins) Action/Adventure/Comedy/Drama/Romance. Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Bush, Kaya Scodelario, Brenton Thwaites, Orlando Bloom, Lewis McGowan. Directors: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg.

Released: May 26 (UK & Ireland)

The third and fourth voyages of the Pirates Of The Caribbean saga, At World's End and On Stranger Tides, sprung leaks in their ramshackle screenplays and capsized under the weight of feverish expectation.

After a six-year hiatus for long overdue repairs, the blockbusting series sets sail with two new directors at the helm - Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg - and Johnny Depp swabbing the decks in his familiar guise as salty seadog Jack Sparrow.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge is a marked improvement and anchors the outlandish action to solid performances from two charismatic young actors, Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites, with simmering on-screen chemistry.

Depp continues to ply his comic schtick with wide-eyed gusto and Spanish actor Javier Bardem, who collected an Oscar for his chilling turn in No Country For Old Men, is a lip-smacking phantasmagorical villain from the watery underworld.

Action sequences are spectacular, including the hysterically overblown theft of a bank safe and a dizzying dance of death between Jack and a guillotine blade.

The fifth chapter has its pleasures but it's not all plain sailing.

The return of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and another original character is misjudged, a central plot thread is disappointingly similar to another summer blockbuster, and the 129-minute running time feels excessive.

A superfluous cameo for Paul McCartney as a fellow pirate also should have walked the gangplank.

Twelve-year-old Henry Turner (Lewis McGowan) stows away on the wreck of the Flying Dutchman in order to be reunited with his father Will (Bloom).

"This is my fate. You must let me go," pleads Will, who is condemned to serve as captain of the watery vessel for eternity... unless his son can track down the mythical Trident of Poseidon.

Nine years later, Will (now played by Brenton Thwaites) searches for the artefact's whereabouts on the island of St Martin in the Caribbean, where he meets plucky astronomer Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), who is labelled a witch because of her unerring love of science.

She possesses a diary penned by Galileo Galilei, which contains clues to the hiding place of the trident.

The duo join forces and unexpectedly cross paths with Jack Sparrow (Depp).

He is being pursued by spectral pirate Captain Armando Salazar (Bardem), who has escaped from the Devil's Triangle and intends to exact revenge, aided by Jack's old adversary, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

A little Depp goes a long way in Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge.

He makes merry with his treasure chest of physical pratfalls and garbled one-liners.

Ronning and Sandberg keep a firm hand on the rudder and navigate a largely entertaining course between eye-popping spectacle and family feuds.

Their film is advertised as the "final" adventure and it would be sensible to drop the mainsail here while the series is still buoyant.


DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL (U, 91 mins) Family/Comedy/Drama/Action/Romance. Jason Drucker, Charlie Wright, Alicia Silverstone, Tom Everett Scott, Wyatt Walters, Dylan Walters, Owen Asztalos, Chris Coppola, Joshua Hoover. Director: David Bowers.

Released: May 26 (UK & Ireland)

Family matters matter in the fourth installment of the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series, based on the hugely popular books by Jeff Kinney.

The cast of David Bowers' pedestrian road movie may have changed for this perky franchise reboot, but the reliance on bodily fluids of every viscosity and hue for easy laughs apparently never grows old.

For 91 minutes, we are trapped with a dysfunctional clan, which allows their young son to relieve himself in plastic bottles whilst sitting on the back seat of the car rather than pull over and avoid spillages, and the lad's humiliation.

A belly full of deep fried butter sticks from a county fair is projectile vomited at the screen and the titular tyke's decision to hide in a motel room shower proves horribly misguided when we are forced to listen to an unsuspecting guest making splashes in the toilet bowl on the other side of the shower curtain.

Director Bowers, helming his third picture in a row, makes heavy work of preposterous interludes such as the central character taking a dip in a hot tub full of cheesy snacks and emerging as a bright orange Oompa Loompa.

This unfortunate soul is 12-year-old Greg Heffley (Jason Drucker), who receives an unwanted gift in a children's ball pit during a visit to a themed family restaurant with the rest of his clan.

Video footage of his ordeal goes viral.

Stung by his online infamy as Diaper Hands, Greg resolves to restore his tainted reputation by making a video with his online idol, Mac Digby (Joshua Hoover), who is due to attend a video gaming convention in Indiana.

Alas, Greg is already committed to a Heffley family road trip to his grandmother's 90th birthday celebrations.

"This is an unplugged road trip: no phones, no iPads, no internet," explains his mother Susan (Alicia Silverstone) as she collects mobile devices from Greg, her husband Frank (Tom Everett Scott), eldest son Rodrick (Charlie Wright) and youngest child Manny (Wyatt and Dylan Walters).

"The only connecting we're doing is with each other!" she trills.

Following their trusty SatNav, the Heffleys careen from one mishap to the next including a stomach-churning spin on a ride at a county fair and bruising exchanges with fellow traveller Mr Beardo (Chris Coppola) and his family.

As the title suggests, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is a slog and there are lags between half-hearted giggles.

Drucker brings likability to his perpetually unlucky lad, while Silverstone injects her well-intentioned yet naive mom with plentiful pep.

There's an aching predictability to the mawkish final destination of Bowers' script, co-written by author Kinney, that feels contrived and emotionally hollow.

Like the Heffleys, we're glad when the cross-country odyssey comes to a screeching end.