Cast - 82%
Story - 75%
Music Score - 85%
Effects/Quality - 80%
Originality - 50%
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me! Batten down the hatches, weight anchor and hoist the mizzen! ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ sails back into cinemas after a 6 year absence (can anyone believe it’s been that long?) for a fifth instalment, with as much gusto and moxie as ever. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge’ (or ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’ as it’s titled in the U.S.) gives us yet another adventure from Captain Jack Sparrow, hearkening back to some of the best and not as great parts of the franchise along the way.
Thrust into an all-new adventure, a down-on-his-luck Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) feels the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost sailors led by his old nemesis, the evil Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it, he must forge an uneasy alliance with a brilliant and beautiful astronomer and a headstrong young man in the British navy.
If you’re at all familiar with any of the other movies in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise, particularly the later entries, you already have an idea of what to expect. This film doesn’t deviate much from the tried and true formula they’ve set along the way, despite two new directors in the form of Joachim Rǿnning and Espen Sandberg. Set many years after the previous entries, our familiar characters look much older but are still as spry as ever. There’s plenty of heart racing and fast paced action with a touch of humour throughout the film as we’ve come to expect, which is always thrilling to watch even it stretches plausibility at times.
This film is an entertaining mixed bag for sure. We return to Caribbean setting – this time in St. Martin – which doesn’t look all that different from Port Royal or any of the other towns we’ve seen, there’s plenty of inventive action that feels right at home with the rest of the franchise, no shortage of humour from Jack Sparrow primarily, plenty of different parties chasing after the mystical MacGuffin despite some of them ultimately not even needing to be in the chase and one could make the argument some of those groups not needing to be in the film at all. The plot is a slightly different twist on what we’ve seen, but yet despite some differences in the details, feels all too familiar. A dead ghost crew which harkens back to ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl’ seems like a nice call back to the original movie, but yet feels like a retread at the same time. The humour we get throughout mostly lands, despite some misses as well, although it’s tough to deduce if the franchise itself is being pulled down by relying on it so heavily, especially when the overwhelming majority comes from Jack Sparrow. The charming and enigmatic pirate, with an over inflated sense of self importance, who seemed like a fool with deceptive cunning lurking beneath the surface, now seems like a total fool played for laughs and who lucks his way through situations either with help or purely by accident. It seems like a disservice to Captain Jack Sparrow, which they can hopefully try correct in future films, although audiences have also come to expect that from the character and do many want Disney to change?
Johnny Depp leads a great cast, reprising the role that he has both defined and in turn has come to define him, as Captain Jack Sparrow. Johnny Depp hardly disappoints and gives us what we’ve come to expect from him. He could practically sleepwalk his way through this role at this point. As seen in the trailer, we get a moment of a much younger Johnny Deep (much like Disney subsidiary Marvel Studios have done with Robert Downey Jr, Michael Douglas, Kurt Russell and others) by way of flashback that looks like it was plucked out of vault from twenty years ago. It really is a sight to behold. Despite the great cast and other characters driving the story, the movie is really Jack Sparrow’s from start to finish. Javier Bardem turns in another good performance as the ghostly and dead Captain Salazar. Bardem brings the right level of menace and presence to the role and the mood changes whenever he appears onscreen. This always goes down well when creating a villain and threat in these films; and the effects on his face, hair and crew are not bad either. Perhaps the best actor of this whole movie is the returning Geoffry Rush who arguably steals the show as rival turned ally: Captain Hector Barbossa. Proving to be an actor of distinction, Rush slips back into the role of Barbossa as easily as slipping into a familiar pair of shoes, and is as capable as ever playing a pirate as he is Albert Einstein. While he and his character are much older in this film, he is still having as much fun as ever and plays Barbossa to the hilt, stealing scenes and arguably gets the most character work and development. Benton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario are fine in their roles as new characters to the franchise but don’t have the presence or the seasoning as the above mentioned cast, and rounding out the cast Kevin McNally who does fine work again as First Mate Joshamee Gibbs. Keep an eye out for some familiar cameos too.
I would feel I’m neglecting my duty if I didn’t take a moment to mention the great scoring of Klaus Badelt. Taking over from mentor Hans Zimmer who composed the previous ‘Pirate of the Caribbean’ film, Klaus Badelt delivers a great score that delivers all the classic musical themes and cue you have come to love in the franchise. If one didn’t take note of the credits, it would be hard to ever notice the difference. If you’re fan of film scores this one will be a treat and you’ll get a great sampling if you stay through the credits as well.
‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge’ truly is a mixed bag. A fun and entertaining one to be sure, but mixed all the same. There’s plenty to of good acting, action and humour to keep us entertained, but also a lot of familiar beats and elements that could make some wonder why Disney needed to make another one. This one will likely come down to how much of a fan you are of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies, but I’d say as much as it it doesn’t break new ground and one can nitpick about the creative decisions along the way, this is a film that will entertain fans of the franchise and anyone looking to enjoy a film on the big screen. Kids will love the characters and jokes, action junkies will get their fix, there’s some romance and familial relationships to keep female viewers happy and most will surely be satisfied one way or another when the credits roll, thus making it a fun family outing. There’s an extra post-credit scene for those dedicated enough to sit through the credits that may or may not hint at the future of the franchise so be mindful of that before entering Ster-Kinekor or Nu-Metro cinemas this weekend. Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
Reviewed on: Cinema 3D
Available on: Cinema 2D, Cinema 3D, IMAX 3D, 4DX
Genre: Action, Adventure
Age Rating: 13
Estimated RRP: R50 – R175
Release Date: 26 May 2017
- Inventive and fast paced action
- Jack Sparrow and Barbossa
- Deaging CGI
- Too familiar?
- Dumbing down Captain Jack?