Directed Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg. Starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario
THE PLOT: A rebel without a crew, Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) is in need of some luck. That it happens to be bad luck should hardly be surprising, as teenager Henry Turner (Thwaites) – son of living dead adventurer Will Turner (a brief opening cameo from living dead actor Orlando Bloom) – unwittingly unleashes an old nemesis, pirate slayer Armando Salazar (Bardem), on his tail. The race to find the Trident of Poseidon is on, with happily, richly retired Captain Hector Barbossa (Rush) dragged into a find-or-death bargain with the vengeful, hateful Salazar. Everybody’s got a curse to shake, and pretty much everyone blames Sparrow for their misfortune. Except, perhaps, bright young thing, Carina Smyth (Scodelario, channeling Keira Knightley when she was full of hope and dreams), a woman of science who, naturally, keeps getting condemned a witch by those bastard British colonists…

Despite many, many odds – being the fifth film in a trilogy – ‘Salazar’s Revenge’ turns out to be something of a hoot.
Largely, cleverly, a remix of 2003’s debut outing, ‘The Curse of The Black Pearl’, all the ingredients are here for a rollicking good time. A beautiful baddie in the jigsaw-shape of Javier Bardem’s vengeful ghost Captain Salazar, the big-budget, big ocean, National Geographic vistas (both above and under water), the reluctant young, feisty lovers, and the return of Depp’s Indiana Richards turn.
Still, for a good panto, you need more than just a loveable hero – you need a baddie you’d happily bring home to shock mother. And Bardem, unsurprisingly, fits the bill deliciously, his Salazar sure to give at least one kid per screening a nightmare or two. Nice.
Review by Paul Byrne

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    Having grossed billions of dollars collectively and become the 12th highest grossing film franchise, Pirates Of The Caribbean has gone well beyond its origins as a theme park ride. The fifth film in the series, Salazar’s Revenge (titled Dead Men Tell No Tales in the US), is undeniably fun… but its creakiness is starting to show in the seams.

    Henry (Brenton Thwaites) is a young man who wants to rescue his father Will (Orlando Bloom). Will has been cursed to live/die in Davy Jones’ locker and the only redemption comes in the form of the mystical object known as Poseidon’s trident. It has the power to break all sea curses. He teams up with witch / astrologer Carina (Kaya Scodelario) and the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who he has a run-in with. They set sail on the high seas, pursued by British commander Scarfield (David Wenham). Meanwhile, Jack’s old ally Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) finds himself hostage to a ghostly pirate captain known as Salazar (Javier Bardem). Salazar has a skull and crossbones to pick with Jack, with vengeance very much on his mind…

    On a basic level, Salazar’s Revenge gives you more of the same or at the very least more of what you’ve come to expect from a franchise of this nature. There’s a lot of pratfalling and mildly inappropriate jokes from the buffoonish Jack, a dastardly villain, some young lovers that drive the plot rather than Jack and lots of pirate-related scenery chewing from the supporting cast. Given that this is the fifth entry, franchise fatigue is a danger. However, this film has two aces up its sleeve – Norwegian co-directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg.

    Having co-directed their Oscar-nominated high seas adventure Kon-Tiki, they weren’t the obvious choice. However, what they’ve managed to do is inject some much-needed gusto into the story, which is written by Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio. They’ve trimmed the plot back to make it a straightforward mission to find a magical MacGuffin. It also helps that the film is the shortest in the franchise (well, by a few minutes). The plot is more streamlined and lacks the bloat of At World’s End. There’s also a lot of visual inventiveness going on with the action scenes – e.g. the Fast & Furious 5-style opening chase involving a wonky guillotine is hair-raising. The climactic dash for survival amid dangerous tides is well-paced too.

    The franchise isn’t on its last legs yet, but the end can’t be that far off. There’s a certain creakiness to it, even dressed up amid the expensive visual effects. Part of that is down to Depp. Given his recent offscreen troubles, he could be forgiven for sneaking back to one of his most popular roles. However, his half-drunken Keith Richards-inspired shtick is becoming tiring, to the point where getting Jack to walk the plank might do no real harm to the franchise. That’s something for Disney to consider, now that there’s a reunion of other characters in the film. In the meantime, Salazar’s Revenge is rousing, entertaining and imaginative enough to get by. Three bottles of rum out of five. ***