Since the release of the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), the series has never really been able to recapture the magic of the film that started it all. Though they have always been entertaining, the characters always seemed to be supporting the huge action sequences and special effects. Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge looks to have taken note, as the latest entry does well to not only develop the characters, but connect them to the previous entries. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and the motley crew are joined on board by two new faces – Henry Turner (Brendon Thwaites) and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), who are a welcome addition to the cast, as they bring an adventurous energy that Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly brought to the original. Their back stories work well to add more depth, although they also get a fair share of comedic moments.
Developing the characters has not stopped the directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg from creating some of the biggest sequences of the series so far, with some very creative shots which really capture the action. Whether it’s on land with the guillotine or out at sea with the cursed ghost sharks, the scenes have you on the edge of your seat one minute and then laughing the next. Depp is once again on fine form as the drunk Jack Sparrow whose ability to get through situations has just as much to do with Buzz Lightyear’s “Falling with Style” as it is sheer luck. The slapstick comedy is great to watch as he puts as much into his facial expressions as he does his body language. He may be getting older, but he still has the energy to put his all into the role.
Credit should also be given to writer Jeff Nathanson, for a script which works in unison with the physical comedy. The sharp dialogue between characters works well, with some great lines subtle enough to keep it family friendly.
As much as the series has relied on the comedy, the villain has also been an important catalyst in the success. In this latest adventure, Jack Sparrow’s nemesis is the vengeful Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem). Bardem relishes the chance to play a villain once again and looks amazing in the role. He may be feared by reputation and fuelled by vengeance, but I did feel sorry for Salazar and his cursed crew. Their tactics may have been merciless, but in some ways, they could also be viewed as the antihero.
Salazar’s Revenge is my favourite of the sequels and without doubt the funniest, doing well to capture the fun of the original. It may drift between stories leaving plot holes big enough to sail a ship through, but that doesn’t matter. When we go to see a Pirates of the Caribbean film, it’s all about escapism. If Depp does decide to hang up the tricorne following the latest entry, he would at least end on a high. Having said that, it would be a shame because it looks as though there is enough momentum to take The Black Pearl on at least one more adventure.