Movies: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Johnny Depp realises exactly where his career has gone.

“No, it can’t be. I’ve spent years searching for… this. The great Jack Sparrow is not some drunk in a cell. Do you even have a ship? A crew? Pants?”

A few minutes into this film, my wife and I were debating what number Pirates film this was. Four? Five? Six? It took a minute to figure out, and that was only by recapping the plots of the others.

That’s the big problem here, you see…the plots. They’re all jumbled into a mass we can’t differentiate. Was the one with the mermaids the fourth film, or the fifth? The whirlpool was the third one, right? And so it went. Anyway, for the record, this is the fifth Pirates movie. It’s also the shortest, but it certainly didn’t feel like it.

It doesn’t really matter if this is the fifth or the tenth. Here’s the plot of all of them: Jack will act like a crazy drunk, there will be swordfights and some action scenes. Jack, friends and enemies will all require a magical artefact – a sword, a magic coin, a trident that controls the seas, and so on. They’ll find this artefact in the last act after many beautiful beaches are walked / run across, lots of sea spray, fights and cannon fire. Jack will somehow walk away at the end with nothing but the sea and The Black Pearl.

Don’t get me wrong about this series. I loved the first movie and quote it all the time. Depp put a new spin on the old pirate and swashbuckler genre, and it’s a swaggering and rolling riot of a first movie. But it should have ended there and somehow Disney dragged this out until we’re left with this sad shadow, a poor pastiche of itself. What was fresh five movies ago is now formulaic and predictable.

The whimsy and charm of Jack is gone and replaced with a sense of pity.

Depp has always carried the movies, but here he seems uncomfortable and distracted. The whimsy and charm of Jack is gone and replaced with a sense of pity. He’s nothing now but a drunk falling into mud pits and he reeks of desperation. The thinness of the rest of the characters shows through when we’re looking at them because we aren’t distracted by Jack. The jokes and wit are weak and the humour is callow and vulgar.

Neither Orlando Bloom nor Keira Knightly return in any real sense, so we’re given two characters to replace them who are exactly the same, right down to Orlando’s accent and Knightley’s kick-assery. They might as well have called them the same names and be done with it.

The action scenes are confused and noisy, and there were times when I felt like hitting pause while I worked out which ship everyone was one fighting on. They seemed to go forever, and it was difficult at points to keep it all straight.

The real highlight was a deliciously silly part where horses pull a building through a town, chased by half the British Army. It’s delightfully daft and entirely entertaining. However the next scene immediately trashes it: The pirates are on a landlocked ship in the same town they were just chased through and my wife said, “I guess they stopped chasing them?”

The pleasant surprise was Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa. His character arc is the most satisfying and he’s the best developed character. There’s a sense of a man deeply conflicted and too far down a dark path to turn back, as much as he wants to. He was wasted in this movie, pushed to the side in favour of Jack’s desperate antics.

In fairness, I sat through the whole thing and enjoyed it more than the one with the mermaids and the weird sea-shell sailors.

But please: No more.

2 thoughts on “Movies: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge”

  1. Hi Tony, exceptional review! I feel like you really hit the nail on the head with this one, especially about Jack’s character being sad and worn now.

    I honestly can’t even remember what number of films I watched now… definitely the first 3… maybe the 4th? I felt even by number three that the concept was wearing thin and the love story was getting irritating.

    I’m amazed that Disney are still getting enough money out of it to continue the franchise when basically no ones seems to like it anymore!

    1. They all blur into one after a while, don’t they? It’s like they ran out of stories halfway through the second one…

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