Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge

POTC 5 1.jpg
UK Release Date 26th May 2017
Director Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
Starring Paul Fucking McCartney
Runtime 129 Minutes
Certificate 12A
Reviewer Si
Reviewed 30th May 2017

I've spent quite some time since watching the latest episode of Disney's mega-franchise attempting to remember whether or not I've seen all the previous outings. A lot happened in this one that made me think I'd missed one. Much scouring of IMDB and many trailers later, I'm almost certain that I've seen all the previous movies. Which, alongside Transformers must put them pretty high up on my list for shear time committed to a franchise. Which in turn, baffles me completely. Still, I'm sure there is a reason why I'm handing over sixteen quid (apologies, I can't locate the Pound sign on my keyboard) to witness this latest effort...

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of point outlining the plot of Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge (or Dead Men Tell No Tales in the US - lord knows why the change of subtitle) so I'll do my best to keep that bit to a minimum: Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) is still cursed and stuck on the Flying Dutchman, his son Henry (Brenton Thwaites) is insistent on finding a doodar that will free the curse. Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) is bent on revenge on Jack Sparrow (Keith Richards' reanimated corpse) after he got stiffed trying to clear the Caribbean of pirates, he needs Jack to lose another doodar in order for this to occur. Carina Smyth (Kaya Scoderlario) is a woman with brains (that is, a witch) and wants to discover who she is, with only a different doodar gifted her by her late father. And, for some reason Geoffrey Rush reappears as Captain Barbossa, sadly doodar free. Plus the monkey is back and the wonderful Golshifteh Farahani is utterly wasted.

All that of course leads to high shenanigans on the high seas. Or at least that's clearly what co-directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg are aiming for. On the evidence of their previous effort, Kon Tikki (which I greatly enjoyed), they are pretty decent hands for the franchise to be passed to after Gore Verbinski finally got bored attempting to make the world's longest movie with the world's shortest entertainment and that other bloke had a go. A definite shame then that the bland script and the apparent necessity of blowing huge chunks of the budget on woeful CGI scupper them almost completely.

This has of course always been the Depp show and gawd love 'im guv'nor he does have a smashing time with his apparent alter ego Captain Jack. And, if it's more of that you be searchin' for me hearties, there be plenty here. From his logic baffling arrival to... er... whatever he was doing at the end, I forget exactly what that was. Aside from that though, it's slim pickings amongst the rest of the team. Bloom turns up in what I can only assume is a contractual cameo but has long since lost interest. Instead the script attempts to pass the blame / torch to the next generation. And to be fair, the youngsters give it their best shot but, try as they might, they simply can't get over the creaking, choppy, damp (please insert any other nautical-based adjectives you fancy) script.

Young Henry Turner is just a bland knock-off of his dad and lord knows, his dad was never that interesting and poor old Carina gets lumped with a cretin's version of what a spunky young female character should be. She's a woman of science - you know, she has brains! (tick box) She's been doing it on her own all this time (tick box). She's not going to take any shit from these redcoat boys (tick box). But here's a bunch of supernatural stuff that her science can't explain so er.... better strip to your undies and er..... "Henry! Henry! Oh Henry! Wake up! He's trying to kill Jack!" Come on people, you're better than that. I'm not expecting a revolution here.

Doesn't matter, here comes a CGI shark! Woooo! To be fair, some of the set-pieces aren't bad. The CGI shark bit is good fun, the opening bank robbery does raise a smile and there's a seemingly endless number of cannons for Jack to drop onto whilst trying to avoid a big monstery thing. Other than that though, it's largely just white noise and a background for Depp to mug around spouting barely decipherable English and for the script writers to pile myth on legend on half-baked nonsense. Which to be honest isn't far off what made the first one great fun but the trouble is, we've seen it before and it just don't seem that fresh anymore sir, oh no sir, not fresh at all (is this salty sea dog thing working?). It's all just so humdrum, even to the point where a section attempting some kind of Jack origin story is remarkable only for just how weird the digitally de-aged Depp looks. And then fucking Paul McCartney pitches up. I mean, what? 

In brief:
Salazar's Revenge / Dead Men Tell No Tales isn't the worst movie I've ever seen, it's not even the worst fifth entry in a series (step forward and then please fuck right off A Good Day to Die Hard), it's just missing anything that might make it stand out even slightly. Frankly it's just not exciting enough and not funny enough to keep even the kids interested. The returning characters are over-familiar rather than being great fun to rejoin, the new characters are empty of anything resembling interest and the utter reliance on gigantic CGI set-pieces drowns out everything else. There's a post-credits scene that intimates where the likely sequel will be going but please, for the love of all things cheeky and piratey, let's leave it there team. This ship has sailed, let it go.

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