Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (also known as the superior US title, Dead Men Tell No Tales) is the fifth instalment in Disney’s long-running Pirates franchise and it follows the same, tiring beats as the previous four films in the series, and the lack of innovation is seriously detrimental in this latest iteration.
The film follows Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) from the original three films, as he endeavours to find the trident of Poseidon in order to free his father from the curse that keeps him aboard the ill-fated ship, the Flying Dutchman. His quest sees him join up with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) and usually unusual hero of the franchise, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Their exploits in the hunt for the sparkly-magic-sea-fork have them avoiding the half-dead Spaniard, Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), who’s out for revenge after a young, CGI-faced Jack Sparrow left him and his crew cursed, with a rather large chip on his shoulder.
The often reliable Johnny Depp gives a noticeably weak performance, playing more of a caricature of Jack Sparrow, than the secretly-scheming, genius he once was. He is reduced to little more than drunken comic relief at times during the film, and what’s worse is that the jokes involving him often fall flat. It’s painful to see that Sparrow is reduced to little more than a confused bystander with events often happening to him, rather than him being on top of the situation as would have been the case in previous films.
The three new arrivals, Henry, Carina and Salazar are never really given the opportunity to shine as they should. Henry is almost a carbon copy of his father in the first film. And while it is good to see the intellectual Carina, break away from the female stereotypes of the time, her character is marred by overtly cheap jokes, and events involving her backstory later on in the film, feel somewhat out of place in regards to another character in the film. The biggest movie-crime out of all of these though, is Bardem’s Salazar. After an exemplary performance in 2012’s Skyfall, it feels as if his acting ability is constrained in a role that limits him to grumpily repeating about four words of dialogue over and over.
The CGI-heavy action throughout takes away from the spectacle that it’s suppose to create. Like many other films in the modern industry, lots of CGI isn’t always the best way to go. It does highlight how quite a simple sword-fight can often be more effective, as seen in the series’ first film. Something which is acutely evident with this latest addition to the franchise is how tired the formula feels, in fact if I could some up how this film feels in one picture, then it would be this…
I don’t think Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa has ever looked so haggard and on the verge of death in all his life!
It’s becoming more and more obvious that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is nothing more than a cash grab for Disney at this stage. Thankfully, in one trailer for the film, it states that this will supposedly be the ‘final adventure’, I only hope that’s true, as the post-credits scene may suggest otherwise.
As a big fan of the franchise, it’s a shame to see Sparrow and the series fall from grace like this. It’s a film that lacks any proper cohesion and it just replays the same beats and tropes that we’ve already seen four times previously. As can be said with any theme park ride, with every go you have, it becomes slightly less special each time, you know what to expect and it doesn’t excite you like it once did. Salazar’s Revenge is a good example of this law of diminishing returns and it’s a poor way to end what has been such a fantastic series of films.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge was released in the UK on May 26, 2017.