Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Directed by: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg | 129 minutes | action, adventure, fantasy | Actors: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Stephen Graham, Angus Barnett, Martin Klebba, Adam Brown, Giles New, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Paul McCartney, Delroy Atinson, Danny Kirrane, Juan Carlos Vellido, Rodney Afif, Rupert Raineri, Stephen Lopez

‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge’ is about to hit the cinemas. Indeed, just when you thought the series had died a quiet death, the Captain Jack show is back. Johnny Depp has said he will continue to play this character as long as the public wants it. So as long as the movies make money. But at some point even he must have seen it, you would think. Like now, with this, frankly, superfluous fifth part from the makers of ‘Kon-Tiki’, a film about an epic ocean journey. Yes, there are times to enjoy the skirmishes of Jack and co, but it’s not all over. Apart from inconsistencies, implausibility and a lack of tension, it is mainly a case of ‘been there done that’. The series manages to surprise or amaze with almost nothing. If Depp wants to keep some of his honor with this role, now is the time to hang up his sword and bottle of rum.

Our first encounter with Captain Jack, in the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ was unique and amusing. You couldn’t take your eyes off Depp’s half-drunk rendition of this eyeliner-made Keith Richards-esque pirate. He also remained funny in subsequent films, although the surprise was of course gone. Especially as his role grew – and it proved difficult to carry a film all the way through – a good story and effective villains became more and more important. Fortunately, the latter is perfectly fine in this fifth ‘Pirates’: ‘Salazar’s Revenge’, known outside Europe under the title ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’. At least, for roughly the first half (or first two thirds) of the movie. The attraction called Jack Sparrow has largely lost its appeal, but luckily its opponent still manages to arouse some interest.

Javier Bardem has shown several times that he can play an intimidating and sometimes even horrifying bad guy (once, in ‘No Country for Old Men’, he even won an Oscar for it). In ‘Salazar’s Revenge’, his introduction is immediately one of the highlights of the film. While a shivering Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of William Turner (Orlando Bloom), is imprisoned below deck in a cell, the (half) dead Salazar enters the ship and kills almost the entire crew. At first we don’t see him, but only hear his boots come down loudly as he leaps onto the deck, taking slow but heavy and menacing steps toward his victims. We look up with Henry, through the cracks in the planks. “Flats!”, another body is pierced there. The result: drops of blood seeping down on poor Henry, who shortly afterwards receives a personal visit from Salazar himself. And then he speaks, occasionally swallowing black blood—and spilling—with which his mouth seems to be continuously filled. No matter what he asks of you, you obey…

Nice start, nice, creepy atmosphere. Unfortunately, it quickly goes downhill after that. And it’s painful to note that practically from the moment we first meet Jack Sparrow (in this movie), the level goes down. His entry in itself is still funny, but then the film suddenly changes into an incredible children’s film, full of lame slapstick. Over-the-top action scenes are – besides comical – no longer exciting, but above all tiring. Jack himself only seems to be able to act stupid, charm or toughness are nowhere to be found and is sometimes a bit too Mad Hatter (with his high, feminine screams). Fortunately, Depp does find his form again at certain moments, but it is not really memorable. And when even the biggest draw of the film series doesn’t captivate enough anymore, you know there’s a big problem.

But then of course there is also such a thing as a good, exciting story to hold on to. Unfortunately that is not the case either. Back to the roots was the idea, with an epic, easy to follow story. Fine, but it’s not all original. Plus, the story of that first movie wasn’t exactly a high-flyer either, let’s face it. Now another magical object has to be found in order to break some curse or get a lot of power. It is of course not a question of whether this will work, but how interesting the road there is, and how nice the characters involved are. In the latter respect, there has also been a return to the original, with Henry and Carina (Kaya Scodelario) basically just standing in for Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), who have to work together again with Jack, – how surprising – to encounter pirate Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Now Rush is always a joy to watch and an asset to any film, but there are not many more joys. Kaya Scodelario will have her qualities but she doesn’t have much to work with here. She’s a lady who hasn’t blown her mouth, which is welcome, but her role is mainly reduced to flat allusions to Henry and/or Jack, and her – because of a corset – considerable cleavage, with which you can enjoy almost every scene. is beaten. Sometimes funny, but (too) often corny or milked out for too long.

Also a pity is the rather sluggish ending. Not only does Salazar seem less menacing because he doesn’t always seem to have his supernatural powers – sometimes he can move right through objects, and sometimes he has to run after his victims in a funny cat-and-mouse game – but in an attempt to make him more three-dimensional Unfortunately, making it more humane also makes it less terrifying. Salazar is unfortunately not alone. Barbossa must also become a warm and human personality (or at least partly). Where have all the tough, selfish pirates gone? Even Jack Sparrow’s selfish crew, who turn their backs on him en masse in a curious scene at the beginning of the film (due to lack of income), turns out to be loyal to their captain Jack again at the end. Well, you might see the latter as just another example of their opportunism, but it won’t be genuinely heartwarming or euphoric; which seems to be the feeling the filmmakers are going for.

Maybe it’s not as bad as it seems to many viewers, but expectations shouldn’t be too high. Don’t expect a dazzling one-man show from Jack Sparrow or a very original or exciting story. But while Depp doesn’t always hit the mark with his antics, Jack Sparrow’s suit fits him so well that he certainly manages to get the laughs on his side. In addition, Javier Bardem is an asset as a villain and there are still some loose moments in the film that know how to captivate. For example, a couple of special sharks pose an interesting threat and, surprisingly, Paul McCartney turns out to be responsible for one of the best moments in the film. Looking across the board, however, you have to say that Jack and the ‘pirates’ have had their day. Maybe now another Disney attraction can be filmed. Space Mountain, anyone?

Comments are closed.