by Jamie Harris
Fourteen years after the release of The Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney is hoping to rejuvenate the franchise after a lacklustre fourth entry.
Salazar’s Revenge sees Johnny Depp return as Captain Jack Sparrow, with the character down on his luck and in a race to find the trident of Poseidon, alongside new characters Henry Turner (Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann’s son) and Carina Smyth. In their way is the titular Salazar, who is out to get Sparrow after being trapped under a curse for years.
Having gone in with trepidation, with each entry in this series having got progressively worse than its predecessors, this film was a pleasant surprise. It has been six years since the last film, and it’s clear they’ve taken it back to basics, giving audiences what they liked best from the earlier films instead of getting bogged down in mythology like On Stranger Tides. That being said, Norwegian directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg have upped the ante in terms of scale and special effects – you can clearly see where the reported $320 million budget was spent.
Another area in which this film succeeds is in the comedy. Right from the start there is a comedic flair, mostly thanks to Sparrow. One of the highlights is an early scene involving a bank robbery, which is so gloriously over the top that it wouldn’t have been amiss in the Fast and Furious franchise. One twist, which won’t be spoilt here, also adds a bit of heart to the spectacle in the last 20 minutes.
Essentially, most of the film plays out like Mad Max: Fury Road on water as Captain Jack and his team are pursued in a race across vast oceans. While this concept allows for some exciting chases and action scenes, there isn’t actually a lot of plot. If it had been any longer than its 129 minute runtime, the film might have started treading water rather than being the thrill ride that it is.
One of the main problems with this film, much like all the others, is that some of the scenes are very dimly lit. It is understandable that this is more realistic, but it does sometimes make it more difficult to see what is on screen, especially if you’re viewing in 3D which dulls colours even more. However, this is only an issue for a handful of scenes (it’s not like Batman V Superman, which might as well have been shot in black and white it was so dimly lit).
The majority of the cast all bring their A-game too. At this point, it seems like Johnny Depp has embodied the role of Captain Jack to the point where he can barely play any other parts, and franchise newbies Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario fit right in alongside the returning cast. The only problem, though, is Javier Bardem’s villain. While he gives a menacing performance as Salazar, it is sometimes difficult to understand what he’s saying, and he’s also CGI-ed to the point that he loses a bit of his impact. After all the hype surrounding the fact that this was Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley’s return to Pirates of the Caribbean, it was slightly disappointing to see how little screen time they had. The majority of the film is spent setting up Thwaites and Scodelario as the new love interests to replace them, should the franchise continue.
This fifth entry in the franchise is certainly the best since the first, which still sits within IMDb’s top 250 films of all-time. It has its flaws, but has plenty of laughs, twists and epic set pieces to make up for them.
4 out of 5