Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is the first one in the series I’ve watched properly.
I never got into them when they first started, so I gave the first one a try a short while back it was on BBC1 (and yes, in 2.35:1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 – they had got that right by then). Alas, I was a bit tired so wasn’t really giving it my full attention. But… since the fifth one was on the big screen, I figured it might be like Fast and Furious 8 where that would be the best chance to get stuck into them properly – since they’re both action adventures and the cinema is how they’ll come across best.
Pirates 5 opens with a young Henry Turner going underwater to the Dutchman to see his father, Will (Orlando Bloom), who’s trapped and cannot break free. The lad can’t come along with him on this ride, so, unless he can find the Trident of Poseidon (whatever that is), they’ll never meet again. Fast-forward nine years later and present-day Henry (Brenton Thwaites – Gods of Egypt) is on another ship, on which everyone’s coming a cropper as they’re paid a visit by the ghostly Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) – all thanks to them sailing into the “Devil’s Triangle” (sounds like my ex’s undercarriage). Well, the map DOES state that they’ve ventured into “uncharted waters”… even though the area is clearly not ‘uncharted’ enough to have a nickname.
When asked by the Captain to the enemy, “Who are you?”, Salazar replies, “Death!!”
But one person always remains alive – like in Natural Born Killers – and he wants Henry to relay a message to Jack Sparrow, stating he’d do it himself, but “Dead men tell no tales”, hence where the film’s original subtitle came from, and I’m still in two minds as to whether that would’ve been better than Salazar’s Revenge, but then that one does denote it as “the one with Javier Bardem”.
Johnny Depp (still camping it up nicely in Keith Richards mode) first comes into proceedings as the hero when he’s found asleep in a safe, inside a bank which is being stolen by his crew, and what leads to a near-opener which I found very amusing as they don’t only take what they’ve come for, but the entire building. As I stated earlier, this is my first Pirates movie proper, but I had a comment from someone who’d seen all the others and they said they found this scene rather forced. I can see that, and I’d probably feel that way myself as it is all very contrived, but I’m most interested in whether it all works as a piece of entertainment.
And it does, particularly with a number of comic moments early on, such as when Jack somehow parted from the building, and enquires in a store, “I’m looking for a bank”, at which point it rips off the side of the place as it passes. “Found it!”, he chirps.
A couple of other gags, which set the tone, came from new girl Kaya Scodelario (Skins), as the over-upholstered* Carina Smyth, telling Jack: “I don’t want any trouble”, to which he drunkenly replies in bewilderment at her stance, “That’s a terrible way to live!”
(*yes, I’m talking about her heaving bosom)
In addition, she has access to a map which cannot be read, to which Jack tells her that most of the men on his ship can’t read, so that basically accounts for every map(!)
When it comes to the new cast members neither Brenton nor Kaya did anything for me. I don’t get any indication that they’re pushing the boat out (pun not intended) and at one point, they’re out-acted by the wooden post they’re tied to(!) Meanwhile Javier Bardem rarely disappoints, even if the film they’re in is rubbish (see Skyfall… or rather, don’t… and I didn’t go a bundle on No Country For Old Men, either). However, the only thing which did sully his performance was that far too often, when his scenes were dark in tone, the setting was so dark it was almost pitch black, so you could barely make out what was going on. And when your colleagues are also bit-parts of skeleton ghosts, I was first left wondering whether that’s the actual case, or whether someone really needs to flick a light switch(!)
Everyone else is fine, although quite why Kevin McNally is listed as “Kevin R. McNally”, is anyone’s guess. Are there too many “Kevin McNally”s in the acting world already?
Go to page 2 for more thoughts from the film.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.