Director: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Orlando Bloom, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally
Studio: Disney Studios
After a lacklustre fourth entry, enthusiasm for the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film is of an incredible low. This is made even more problematic with the bankability of Johnny Depp troubled by personal reasons. With a large budget – that increased with every new entry – the entire Pirates franchise was given a lot of means to deliver a high end blockbuster. For the most part the series did, making a name out of two young British actors (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley) and establishing one of cinemas greatest character performances. That was fourteen years ago, and after three sequels (with the fourth disappointing both commercially and critically) the franchise seemed to suffer from audience fatigue.
With this in mind, Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (disappointingly altered from the better American title: Dead Men Tell No Tales) is a almost return to form for the series; with some standout set pieces and exciting new characters that breathe life back into the tired franchise. However, the fourth sequel still suffers from some aspects that plagued the previous two entrants. These include an over abundance of supporting characters, that turn up with no real development or real relevance for the wider plot line and such seem unwarranted within the larger cinematic picture. Also, in a bid to out do the previous films, one key sequence is overly long, overly stupid and completely unwanted within this particular film.
With two opening scenes depicting Henry Turner (son of the first trilogies Will) as he searches for a cure to his father’s curse, the film quickly establishes the narratives end goal and sets about directing all characters towards this particular means. Returning to Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) Salazar’s Revenge quickly establishes all major characters and places them all within a short distance of one another. Like the previous films in the franchise, Salazar’s Revenge structure follows a recognisable path. Sparrow, along with two younger characters, is tasked to find a nautical artefact that holds a power over those who are pursuing him – with this films antagonist being a ghost captain called Salazar (Javier Bardem).
Broadening the franchise with the two new additions, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina (Kaya Scodelario), Salazar’s Revenge strangely forgets the supporting cast of the previous film and starts afresh with some likeable characters. Off course Sparrow’s crew returns from the previous films – although with a much smaller screen time – and, being a consistent element of the franchises success, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is also implemented into Sparrow’s plight. Where the other films have struggled to capture characters that fill the screen as much as Depp does in his performance, Salazar’s Revenge manages to get closest with this regard. The actors seem to be having fun in their portrayals, and this emotion resonates within their performances.
After performing the role of Jack Sparrow four times previous (and multiple charity events), Johnny Depp naturally brings a conviction to his role. This works in the other-the-top nature of the performance being presented throughout the film. However, due to the amount of time that audiences have seen the character onscreen, this iteration comes across in places as sloppy and bored. Nothing really surprising, and as such the character has lost a bit of its charm. With popular franchises being used to re-establish Depp in Hollywood, their is no doubt that this film – and any future sequels – will help him achieve a rise in popularity.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is a fun return to the franchise, but never comes close to the acclaimed original. With some bright additions, and more Barbossa, the film is entertaining throughout. With Depp battling personal issues, his performance as Jack Sparrow falters in certain points of the plot, but overall the return of one of cinema’s most enjoyable characters brings its own watchability. With perhaps the greatest villain within the entire franchise, through some brilliant design choices and Bardem’s performance, Salazar’s Revenge is a entertaining blockbuster that works in being just that.