Friday, 26 May 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge (2017) - Film Review


*Originally written May 25th, 2017*

I've not been a huge fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean series overall, well, the last two instalments in particular. The World's End being an overblown bore and On Stranger's Tides being the worst of the lot as the series fell into a boring parody of itself.

My hopes for Salazar's Revenge or 'Dead Men Tell No Tales' if you're in the US were pretty low. Johnny Depp has been the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons lately, the film has two fairly no-name directors at the helm and the marketing for this film has been pretty bad. Its strangely been billed as 'The Final Adventure', which is weird considering there is nothing to give this indication and the sixth film is very much planned and will no doubt happen unless this strangely flops.

Salazar's Revenge itself... was actually a lot of fun. It's not amazing by any means, but for a big-budget summer blockbuster about pirates, it's perfectly acceptable. It doesn't quite capture the magic of its fresh and wonderful original, but it avoids the pitfalls of its dismal sequels fairly well. So I'll go on record and say this was the best one since the first.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
There's nothing too amazing about it though. It walks this fine line of acceptability and fun that is pretty lacking in recent blockbusters. It never really takes itself too seriously and while forced it times, it did have some heart underneath the surface. A lot of the jokes hit pretty hard, but there are a few misses here and there, but nothing offensively awful.

I really liked that this felt like more like a direct sequel to The World's End and completely ignoring On Stranger Tides, more or less. It some ways it feels like 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Generations' too, every new cast member is related to a previous character in the series. Which was unnecessary, but brought things full circle at the end, and did bring some emotion to the film.

Johnny Depp was also the best Captain Jack Sparrow he's been in years. It's hard too tell if he was trying, but for the first time in a while, I actually enjoyed seeing Jack on screen again. He doesn't capture that lightning in a bottle effect he brought to the first one, but he does at least seem to be trying a bit more than he usually does.

For the new characters to the series, no one was massively memorable. Kaya Scodelario was decent, if not given a massive amount to do, but she was far better than Brenton Thwaites, who is pretty bland and forgettable. Oh, if you were expecting a lot from Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, then don't. Their screentime barely amounts to 3 minutes. It will still nice to see them return though, and maybe bring them back for further films?

Javier Bardems' villain was by far the worst part of Salazar's Revenge. His crew retread a lot of the same ground that The Curse of the Black Pearl did, another cursed crew looking for revenge on Jack Sparrow. On top of that, the designs are pretty horrific and outmatched by CGI from 14 years ago now, which is a shame. Bardem's performance is also kinda embarrassing. He does this annoying raspy voice where I could barely tell what he was saying and he rarely gets to do anything where he gets to shine or show his evilness.

Javier Bardem hamming it up as Captain Salazar
While I was worried about these fairly in-experienced directors doing a film like this, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg do a fairly solid job at crafting some fun and creative action scenes. They're not as good as Gore Verbinski's fluid direction, but I was surprised at the creativity on display. The highlight being a bank being dragged across a town early on and I really loved the design and look of the finale. Geoff Zanelli also delivers a solid score, not as strong as Hans Zimmer, but I'd say it was a worthy addition.

Salazar's Revenge doesn't reach the heights of the Pirates series at its best, but it is a hell of a lot better than its previous two entries and more or less and return to form and a step in the right direction for the franchise.

7/10 Dans

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

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