Not quite the treasure you’re looking for
Considering the franchise stemmed from a theme park ride, Pirates of the Caribbean has done incredibly well for itself. Although, a majorly mediocre fourth outing in 2011 sent the series into a shipwreck, leaving a sour taste in our mouths. But it’s back (with a stupidly changed title from the US’ catchier Dead Men Tell No Tales) with a seemingly darker tone, more characters and a new villain – yet it all doesn’t feel that new at all.
On the run from the vengeful Salazar (Javier Bardem), Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) must hunt for the Trident of Poseidon, with the aid of a few familiar faces, as well as Will Turner’s son, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and the intelligent Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario).
If one thing’s for sure, Depp hasn’t lost his way as our favourite Captain. In typically moronic style, our reunion with Sparrow is hectic and hilarious. Perhaps more drunken in this iteration, but terrific all the same, it may not be the freshest performance but it does what it says on the tin. Plus if you’re not there to enjoy Sparrow’s ditsy, ridiculous antics then why are you even watching?
Geoffrey Rush also returns as Captain Barbossa, ageing yet always striking fear into those around him – and us of course. His relationship with Sparrow is played much further for laughs here, but he plays a central role to the plot, and may even snatch a tear or two.
Javier Bardem, no stranger to villains (see No Country for Old Men for his best performance to date), effortlessly envelops himself in the role. Never at any point will you doubt his relentless fury, and although it may not be as iconic as our first experience of dead pirates in Curse of the Black Pearl, he works to make us shudder in fear every step of the way. However, the special effects often take more away from Bardem’s impact than help it, at times seeming far overdone – less can always be more.
The Norwegian directing team’s (Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg) can’t be criticised heavily, as the pacing is absolutely spot on, one can’t help but feel we’ve seen all of this before. See Sparrow drunk, see Sparrow up to no good, watch him get captured etc. For what could be the last entry in the series, it should have made us scream “YAR” in euphoria, but it feels more like the old reliable. Yes it’s good – watch out for the guillotine scene – but we needed more. You can’t help but scoff at the central plot device, yet another mystical treasure adding more to the mind boggling, nonsensical lore that drives the film.
That being said, the absolutely insane climax makes most of it worthwhile. Epic and grand in scale, it’s brings back memories of the exhilarating moments from At World’s End. By the end of it you’ll remember why you adored the franchise so much in the first place. Also, Hans Zimmer’s rip roaring, electrifying score brings out the goosebumps, leaving you humming the theme for the foreseeable future.
To sum it up…
Miles ahead of the fourth entry, Salazar’s Revenge grasps for our forgiveness. True moments of greatness amongst the familiarity make this a memorable, entertaining potential finale to a much loved series. Although a certain post-credits scene could suggest otherwise…
Rating: No bad
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Author: Cameron Frew