Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge (2017)
Directed by: Espen Sandberg, Joachim Ronning
Written by: Jeff Nathanson
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp, Kaya Scodelario
Taking to the seas for potentially the last time (although a post credit sequence suggests otherwise), Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns, having been sought after by the son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) has a plan to recover his sea bed-ridden father from the clutches of the Flying Dutchman’s curse (another week, another Hollywood blockbuster with daddy issues). A mythical trident is said to lift any sea-based curse, and as it just so happens, cursed undead pirates – not unusual for these films – have a vendetta against Sparrow. Accompanied by headstrong Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), who also seeks the same treasure, to carry on her long departed fathers work. Henry Turner has been in pursuit of Jack Sparrow for sometime, but prior to them getting acquainted, he runs into the films titular bad guy, who has held a grudge against Sparrow for many years. In exchange for letting him live, Salazar (Javier Bardem) tells Henry to lure Sparrow to him. This doesn’t happen of course, but another quirk of fate allows Salazar, who was previously bound to a mysterious creepy island, to go after Jack himself.
As with all the previous films, it’s at its best when there’s a zany set piece, usually involving Jack Sparrow and a lot of everything being destroyed. The first big action scene involves a bank robbery that accidentally goes too literal, no thanks to Jack’s drunken antics. It’s as fun as it is far fetched, and superbly driven by the best part of the series, the score. Geoff Zanelli does a great job of carrying on musical duties, with a score that’s as swashbuckling and bombastic as it should be, used to brilliant effect in the bigger action scenes. As seems standard for a Pirates film, there’s a public execution at some point, with a daring rescue. This time it’s sillier than ever, with an amusing moment involving a guillotine, which is more entertaining than it deserves be. The biggest issue with this instalment is that it’s at it weakest when pirates do what they do best, looking for treasure and battling on the high seas. There’s a big galleon face-off as the film builds towards its climax, that may well have been spectacular, were you actually able to see anything. It’s so dark and poorly lit that it’s very difficult to keep up with what’s going on, and easy to mistake one character for another. There’s a lot going on for a few minutes and at times you can barely distinguish the silhouettes.
Most of the crew are back, including those from the previous film. Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) also returns, and gets a little more filled in to his back story, if only to add a bit of dimension to the character. Of all the films’ bad guys, Salazar seems little more than something to add a little mild peril to the adventure, as it’s not just the undead who are after the seafaring band of misfits. Once again the British have had their cages rattled, and are the narrow minded idiots who can’t be reasoned with. After four previous films of cursed zombies and sea monsters, it’s beginning to get repetitive and you know every tight spot that Jack Sparrow finds himself in, he’s going to get out of by stepping on a rake or riding a horse backwards or whatever. Set pieces and epic score aside, there’s nothing new here that will win you over if you weren’t a fan in the first place, as it treads the same ground that’s been sauntered over four times already.