Out this week in cinemas is Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge the fifth film in the long-running Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. This latest entry into the series introduces newcomer Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elisabeth Swan (Kiera Knightley) who is searching for a way to uncurse his father who is still the captain of the Flying Dutchman. Along for the journey is fellow newcomer Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) who wishes to follow the footsteps of her wayward father which brings her into Henry’s adventure. Henry also needs one final piece to help him, and that piece is everyone’s favorite pirate, or at least he was when this franchise began, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). A major obstacle in their way is Capitán Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem) a monstrous wraith bent on the destruction of pirates, and this hateful creature was created by Sparrow himself when he was a youngster.
There is a recurring theme running throughout Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge – a sense of fatigue. The majority of this film feels like it is running on autopilot. The first major problem is Depp, who seems to have lost all the charm and wit that made Jack Sparrow so iconic in the first film. You can almost see it in Sparrow’s eyes when he is spouting his various catchphrases; there’s no passion he just delivers the lines and waits for his next cue and the acting on display from the supporting cast isn’t on a much higher level.
And as I previously stated this permeates throughout the entirety of Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge there’s no real sense of wonder when fantastical elements are happening around the characters. This is all down to the directing from the two directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning. There are scenes where seas are parting, pirates are running on water, and the film glosses over them too quickly never letting the characters (or audience) bask in the ridiculousness instead we are treated to another terrible back and forth between Sparrow and one of the other main characters. The film has no soul to it, it is simply moments slammed together to get the characters from A to B, and there’s just no charm to keep your interest as the characters travel between the various locales.
Now the cinematography is gorgeous, as per usual the Caribbean is sunny, it’s pretty and there are moments where I thought Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge was trying something fun and innovative with the design of some of the more mystical elements of the film, but it all takes a backseat to the poor acting and abysmal character development.
On the plus side, the iconic score is still as energetic and gleefully chaotic as its ever been. On top of that the action in Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is still as enjoyable as ever. The opening heist with Sparrow and his motley crew of fools is a lot of fun and when there was an oceanic battle between the multitude of ships in the film I was impressed with a lot of the action choreography.
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has possibly run aground with Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge and with it taking on water the future is uncertain for the merry adventures of Jack Sparrow. However, with impressive visuals and genuinely fun action set pieces there is still fun to be had on the high seas. These adventures may have to move on from Jack Sparrow and his tired schtick to stay relevant, however.