Film: “Pirates of the Caribbean – Salazar’s Revenge”; Directors: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg; Cast: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Stephen Graham, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush; Rating: ***
In keeping with the franchise’s theme and tone, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge”, the fifth instalment in the series is close to its first film “The Curse of the Black Pearl”.
A chaotically high-strung action drama, Salazar’s Revenge is not the perpetually drunk swashbuckler Jack Sparrow’s story, but in reality it is Henry Turner’s story. It is a new adventure with many of the same formulaic elements like ghost ships, the walking dead and hidden treasure.
The narrative begins with the 10-year-old Henry sneaking out of his house with an ancient map in search of his father, the pirate Will Turner (Orlando Bloom).
Henry goes into the depths of the ocean, only to find his dad imprisoned in his ship, by a curse. He tells his father that he has found a way to break his curse and would free him from his ship. Will Turner, though touched, does not believe his son and orders him to leave and never come back.
Nine years later, the tale proceeds to reveal how Henry (Brenton Thwaites) fulfils the promise he made to his father.
This film also subtitled as “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, comes alive, when Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), the zombie rival of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and the leader of a gang of buccaneers in various degrees of decay, explains in between the gushes of blood oozing from his mouth, he always leaves one survivor to pass along his legendary exploits simply because, “Dead men tell no tales!”
The film, scripted by Jeff Nathanson and directed by the Norwegian duo Joaquim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, is a blockbuster. Though strewn with glaring cinematic liberties and strappings of a typical Hollywood opus, they manage to mount a fun filled, spectacular, fantasy, adventure story packed with visual delights and chaotic chases. So what if you have seen variations of these action sequences in earlier editions or other films.
But what is lacking in this edition is novelty. Exhaustion seems to have set in, especially with the character – Jack Sparrow. Though Johnny Depp, with his buffoonery, delivers some rather funny moments, he can’t resurrect the character completely. Nevertheless, it is the other characters that keeps this edition afloat.
Brenton Thwaites as Henry is charming yet bland. His chemistry with Kaya Scodelario who plays Carina Smyth the astronomer who is mistaken for a witch and is hunted, is non-existent. Kaya attractive and appealing offers a notable performance.
Javier Bardem, who tries to match Depp in histrionics, is not skilled enough to make Salazar a memorable villain. He oscillates between fearsome and comical, making his character almost a caricature.
The film boasts of some neatly mounted visual touches. The Computer Generated Images and the 3D effects are noteworthy and they seem to be the highlight of this edition.
Overall, despite the familiarity coupled with the law of diminishing returns to some extent, the film does offer a few hours of entertainment.
By Troy Ribeiro