★★★★ – “A fun, visually incredible, swashbuckling adventure and worthy sequel.”
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (originally & more fittingly; Dead Men Tell No Tales) is directed by Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg and stars Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, David Wenham.
Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon. (12A cert; 129 mins)
It’s been 14 years since we first met Jack Sparrow on the big-screen. Johnny Depp handed in a truly unique and intricate performance that earned him a nomination for Best Actor at The Academy. The first film was a genuine surprise for everyone, followed up graciously with two fantastically fun sequels shot back-to-back. 6 years ago, a stand-alone sequel (On Stranger Tides) was released, with it came a disappointing response. Jack Sparrow’s solo outing was still mostly enjoyable, but the magic of the first three instalments was lost, largely due to the absence of the original cast. After years of waiting, we are able to return to the world of Pirates.
Does Rønning & Sandberg’s Salazar’s Revenge live up to the original? The answer: No. However, I felt the exact same feelings that I did with the first when watching this fresh instalment. It’s fun, colourful, action-packed, visually incredible – clearly a very expensive production overall – and it features some particularly likeable characters.
As soon as the screen opens we are introduced to Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), who seeks help from Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) to save his father (Orlando Bloom) from a terrible curse. However, due to previous events in Jack’s past, the ghostly Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) longs for bloody revenge and will not stop until Sparrow is no more.
There’s no doubt about Depp’s performance as the witty Captain Jack Sparrow being truly brilliant. Although it’s clear that some of the charm we loved so much in the first few films has been degrading over time. It’s no different in Salazar’s Revenge, Depp looks to be enjoying every moment, but something feels ‘off’ in his delivery. Of course, he still manages to lift the film to extraordinary heights and he still performs wonderfully in some of the funniest scenes (the guillotine, anyone?) but you can’t ignore the strange evolution of his loveable character.
Bashing heads with Depp is Javier Bardem who turns in a dark and scary performance as Salazar, quickly becoming one of my favourite Pirates villains. Watching his scenes unfold and seeing his enthusiasm for the role is a real treat. On the ‘good side’ is Thwaites & Scodelario, fighting the ghost army as they journey to their destination. Two genuine and pleasant performances, somehow filling the missing pieces that Will & Elizabeth leave behind. Some of the original crew of the Black Pearl return, including Gibbs (Kevin McNally) and Marty (Martin Klebba) proving to be a key part of the franchise and a terrible loss if underused. Here, they provide a comical back-and-forth between Jack, Carina and Henry and continue to make the audience chuckle. Finally, Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is back and he’s as great as ever. The character has seen some ‘spotty’ times but Rush’s passion for Pirates is unbroken.
After four instalments featuring the music of Hans Zimmer (including The Curse of the Black Pearl which Zimmer overproduced), Geoff Zanelli takes the reins with a powerful and engaging original score. Not only does Zanelli revive several main themes throughout (and rightfully so, having worked with Zimmer on previous occasions), he writes with clear knowledge of the characters and produces an exciting and thrilling listening experience.
Although the story isn’t the strongest and the many situations are somewhat unrealistic and exaggerated, it’s still a heavily energetic production. Everything from the clean editing and glistening visual effects to the stunning make-up and beautiful Australian locations is simply amazing. Fans longing for something close to the original trilogy should have a lot of fun watching this film.
Verdict; Salazar’s Revenge (Dead Men Tell No Tales) may not be as smart or as charming as the original, but it’s pure swashbuckling entertainment for the fans. Familiar faces return as new faces are introduced, and Captain Jack Sparrow continues to command with a bottle of rum in hand.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge – ★★★★ (8/10)