Review: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge
Hoist the mainsail, all hands on deck, avast ye landlubbers and other salty old nonsense phrases at the ready for the latest instalment of Pirates Of The Caribbean – which has pleasures enough to keep it afloat while tacking ominously towards the reefs at times, writes Damon Smith
THE third and fourth voyages of the Pirates Of The Caribbean saga, At World's End and On Stranger Tides, sprung leaks in their ramshackle screenplays and capsized under the weight of feverish expectation.
After a six-year hiatus for long overdue repairs, the blockbusting series sets sail with two new directors at the helm – Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg – and Johnny Depp swabbing the decks in his familiar guise as salty seadog Jack Sparrow.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge is a marked improvement and anchors the outlandish action to solid performances from two charismatic young actors, Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites, with simmering on-screen chemistry.
Depp continues to ply his comic schtick with wide-eyed gusto and Spanish actor Javier Bardem, who collected an Oscar for his chilling turn in No Country For Old Men, is a lip-smacking phantasmagorical villain from the watery underworld.
Action sequences are spectacular, including the hysterically overblown theft of a bank safe and a dizzying dance of death between Jack and a guillotine blade.
The fifth chapter has its pleasures but it's not all plain sailing. The return of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and another original character is misjudged, a central plot thread is disappointingly similar to another summer blockbuster, and the 129-minute running time feels excessive.
A superfluous cameo for Paul McCartney as a fellow pirate also should have walked the gangplank.
Twelve-year-old Henry Turner (Lewis McGowan) stows away on the wreck of the Flying Dutchman in order to be reunited with his father Will (Bloom).
"This is my fate. You must let me go," pleads Will, who is condemned to serve as captain of the watery vessel for eternity... unless his son can track down the mythical Trident of Poseidon.
Nine years later, Will (now played by Brenton Thwaites) searches for the artefact's whereabouts on the island of St Martin in the Caribbean, where he meets plucky astronomer Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), who is labelled a witch because of her unerring love of science. She possesses a diary penned by Galileo Galilei, which contains clues to the hiding place of the trident.
The duo join forces and unexpectedly cross paths with Jack Sparrow (Depp). He is being pursued by spectral pirate Captain Armando Salazar (Bardem), who has escaped from the Devil's Triangle and intends to exact revenge, aided by Jack's old adversary, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).
A little Depp goes a long way in Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge. He makes merry with his treasure chest of physical pratfalls and garbled one-liners.
Ronning and Sandberg keep a firm hand on the rudder and navigate a largely entertaining course between eye-popping spectacle and family feuds.
Their film is advertised as the "final" adventure and it would be sensible to drop the mainsail here while the series is still buoyant.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR'S REVENGE (12A, 129 mins) Action/Adventure/Comedy/Drama/Romance. Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Bush, Kaya Scodelario, Brenton Thwaites, Orlando Bloom, Lewis McGowan. Directors: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg