*This review will contain minor spoilers for, Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge*
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, further proves that this franchise of films has well and truly had its day. It contains a laughably weak story that only becomes more uninteresting as the film goes on, and a host of characters who you don’t care about, and very much over-stay their welcome. This is a film that is unnecessary, tedious, and by the end, something you just want to be over. Let’s get onto the review – one that won’t be to kind, but that unfortunately can’t be avoided.
Salazar – played by Javier Bardem – seeks revenge on, Captain Jack Sparrow – played by Johnny Depp – as he was the man who lured him into a trap and ultimately caused his demise. Jack begrudgingly teams up with Henry Turner – played by Brenton Thwaites – and Carina Smith – played by Kaya Scodelario – to find Poseidon’s Trident. A McGuffin that will help lift the curse that threatens, Jack’s life, and see the seas safe once again.
If you’re ever looking for an example of a franchise that has had its time and now only offers tedious, embarrassing storylines and characters, then look no further than, Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge. Oh boy is this a film that is bursting with awfulness.
You need look no further than the tiered, unoriginal plot that the film possesses. The entire plot of this film is built upon far-fetched coincidences, unbelievable happenstance, and an ever-present sense that the filmmakers must think that the audience is dumb. The entire experience of sitting through this film and watching it poorly attempt to illicit laughs or any sort of emotional response can be summed up with two physical reactions (both of which I found myself doing often) and that is to either roll your eyes or simply slump your head down into your hands.
It didn’t take long for this film to completely lose me. The actual story in the film is so uninteresting, and is somehow a worse re-tread of the many elements that have made up all the other Pirates of the Caribbean films. Don’t go into this film expecting it to evolve its very basic structures, because this is just like all the other films, but somehow worse.
I seriously couldn’t believe just how tragically desperate this film felt. It genuinely struggles to offer anything stimulating, and it only spirals further downwards as it goes on. Watching this film was very much the adage of ‘laughing at it and not with it.’
And something that will certainly not make you laugh is Captain Jack Sparrow. In the first film he was funny, quirky and enjoyable to watch bumble his way through the world. Now his whole shtick is just… annoying. The character has become a loathsome caricature; one you want less of. But the film gives him to you in droves, and it grates on you quickly.
Beyond, Jack, there are some shockingly dense attempts at supporting characters. Everything about the two new characters, Henry Turner and Carina Smith is so forced and trite. They are not presented in a way that makes them interesting and their inevitable relationship is so desperate and forced, that I couldn’t believe they even tried to get away with it.
But perhaps the dumbest thing the film does is reveal that, Carina Smith is actually Barbosa’s daughter. When the revelation came, I almost laughed out loud at how stupid a plot/character development it was – and it only worsens as a side-plot, as the film goes on. Again, rolling your eyes or burying your head down into your hands is something you’ll get used to doing, when watching this film.
And then we come to the films antagonist, Salazar. He was a confusing one for me, because he is supposed to be the films villain, but I never understood why I was supposed to root against him. Before he was a dead man walking, he was carrying out a crusade to wipe out all pirates. A task I felt was a noble one. The only reason I assume he could be considered the villain is because he wanted to kill, Jack Sparrow. But his want to kill, Jack was a just one. And if I’m being honest, I really wanted Salazar to succeed, as that way it would mean no more Jack Sparrow, which might have made this the best film ever. He ultimately was a bland, forgettable villain and a waste of Javier Bardem’s talents as a great actor.
But I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is so difficult to find characters that you care about or are interested in, as the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has surrounded itself with a world that has massively undefined rules, and a total lack of consequences for any of its main characters. I mean, this is a franchise in which two of its main characters have both died, only to return to the living later on (Jack Sparrow and Barbosa). I’m sure there are even more examples of this, but they escape me at the moment.
So these are films where you don’t even have the threat of death as something to motivate interest or worry for the characters. The main villain in the film is a ghost for god sake, and much like everything else, you are given no clear indication of what his restrictions are or how he can be combated. You’re just left to watch things play-out in a way where they can literally make up anything to have the plot progress – and they do just that. The villain out of nowhere possesses one of the main characters and controls his body for a short while. This is never set up as something he can do, it just happens and you are expected to go along with it.
The lack of rules and the lack of consequences make it impossible to ever invest yourself in anything or anyone. So despite some entertaining action set-pieces, I never fully invested myself in what might happen to the films multiple protagonists, nor did I ever feel a connection to them. And so it is another factor in why I found myself completely disconnected from the whole experience.
But speaking of action set-pieces; perhaps the only hint of enjoyment that you could get from this film would be in some of its fun set-pieces. These films have always had monumental budgets, and with those budgets they have offered spectacles that certainly standout. Now this film doesn’t have anything like the second or third, Pirates of the Caribbean films, but it does still have some decent moments – at first.
A scene near the beginning where, Jack and his crew attempt to steal a safe is enjoyable to watch, and it is clear that a lot of effort went into executing it. There was a good blending of practical stunts and CGI, which all went into creating something that, I felt was pretty entertaining. It did instil false hope within me, as I thought that this was the calibre of set-pieces and entertainment that I could expect from the rest of the film, but that was sadly not the case.
With each new action moment you become less and less interested. Much of that is because the story and the characters seem to make every effort to suck enjoyment an interest out of the experience, and so when you do get to the bigger, flashier moments, you couldn’t care less. By the time it got to the final showdown, I was so disinterested, that I found myself thinking of other things, like what I might have for dinner or what my plan for the weekend was going to be.
And so some things happened, the bad guys lost (though again, I don’t consider them to be bad guys, but the film did for some reason) and then both, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley showed up in the film to offer up… nothing. Thankfully at that point the credits rolled and I pretty much bolted out of the cinema, happy to no longer be subjected to that waste of time that was, Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge.
There isn’t really much else to say. This was a pointless film that didn’t need to exist, and the friend who insisted that we go see it is no longer someone I think I want to associate with.
So no, I will absolutely not be recommending, Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge. Save yourself the time, the money and your sanity. Go see anything else – hell, stare at the wall for 2 hours – it’ll be more stimulating.
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