Jack Sparrow is back in an all-new adventure in Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (released as Dead Men Tell No Tales in the US), which is expected to take dangerous turns for the worst. Jerry Bruckheimer gives us yet another action-packed spectacle with a dash of just a little bit more pixie dust to serve us some good old Disney magic. Directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, this new story penned by Jeff Nathanson takes much of its cues from its “The Curse of the Black Pearl” predecessor. What “On Stranger Tides” lacked in narrative, “Dead Men” makes up for in its web of characters all after each other and all after one thing.
We are introduced to Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) at the prologue as a young boy witnessing his father Will Turner’s (Orlando Bloom) demise into the cursed ship Dutchman. He then grows up to be the film’s handsome young hero bent set on breaking his father’s curse and restoring him to life. To do this he must attain the mythical Poseidon’s Trident and recruit the talents of the legendary Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) who has been reduced to petty and small-time crimes. With a diminished crew, a wreck of a ship and no new adventure, Sparrow is left to rot as a criminal under the watchful eye of Scarfield (David Wenham). Scarfield is also in hot pursuit of an alleged “witch” Carina Smyth played by Nicole Kidman lookalike Kaya Scodelario, who is actually a crafty and intelligent astronomer who has committed her life to studying a map of stars in the hopes of finding her father. The three find themselves on a misadventure in search of the coveted Poseidon’s Trident–a magical staff that controls the sea.
Unbeknownst to Sparrow, his negligence had released his long-time nemesis Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem) who has a heavy undead ax to grind with Jack and is killing everything in sight on the sea until he takes his ultimate revenge on our favorite pirate. Sparrow’s frenemy Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) comes into an accord with Salazar but ultimately wants his hands on the Trident. At this point, we have all these ships racing toward a mysterious island which allegedly holds Poseidon’s Trident–the staff that will break all the curses. There is the imperial naval fleet, a couple of bandits, and a real witch to deal with somewhere amidst that mess too.
While the plot is bloated, characters webbed, and resolution “ex machina”-ed, Disney still delivers a helluva ride. We are brought back into the world of Pirates and swashbucklery that it is easy to forgive the film’s pretense because we are back with these characters we love, the best of which is our beloved Jack Sparrow. After all these films, it is surprising to see Johnny Depp still so loveable and so addicting as the drunken and clumsy Jack Sparrow who is annoying as much as he is endearing. It was also nice to see a “young” Jack Sparrow in a tasty little flashback establishing his strained history with Captain Salazar.
Javier Bardem is delicious to watch as the villainous Salazar. He has a physicality, a voice, and a presence that cut through all the CGI effects he was constructed with. His Captain Salazar was layered with resentment, anger, and a vicious lust for revenge that in one of his scenes, we actually jumped off our seats. The two young adventurers Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario were sufficient but rather forgettable. While they were the central forces in the narrative, their anchor was rather loose and unstable. It is notable though to see the women characters of Disney finding more dimension and chutzpah. Scodelario’s Carina is feisty, risky, cunning, and intelligent- a nice deviation from the usual damsels.
Following Jack Sparrow into the world of Pirates is guaranteed to be a confusing, complicated, but definitely fun ride. If you want to take that ride further, try watching it on 4DX–this film goes the extra mile to exhaust as much magic as possible. But 4D or not, the film in itself has enough smoke, mirrors, bells, and whistles to make you forget your stresses for the day.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is a fun ride that you will likely end up forgetting two years from now, but while you are inside it, it is worth living each magical moment.