Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

 

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Jack Sparrow returns for the fifth instalment of the endless buccaneering franchise, which 

even the presence of Javier Bardem cannot salvage.

 
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Far from jolly, Roger: Javier Bardem

 

Errol Flynn will be spinning in Davy Jones's locker. It’s been six years since Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides grossed $1.045 billion at the global box-office. Inevitably, then, the Walt Disney studio was eager to capitalise on this lucrative franchise, based on its own theme park ride. And Salazar’s Revenge would have materialised sooner were it not for the small fortune the company lost on the ludicrously over-priced Johnny Depp vehicle The Lone Ranger. So, after a moment of hesitation, they spent $230 million to resurrect Jack Sparrow in yet another episode of computer-generated pirates defying the laws of physics. And with that sort of money one might have expected at least one decent gag or a coherent plot.

 

One of the myriad problems with Salazar’s Revenge is the premise: Jack Sparrow is chased by a horde of spectral brigands who, because they are already dead, appear indestructible. Their leader is played by Javier Bardem, a computer-generated blast of evil who salivates black ooze and whose hair has a life of its own. So what is poor Jack to do? One sequence has our hero on a beach surrounded by the sabre-rattling demons and his demise is all but predetermined. So, with a magical edit, he is seen racing through the neighbouring jungle without so much as a demon in sight. Such lapses of logic rob the film of any sense of dread or suspense – because anything seems to be possible. Jack Sparrow himself, a double-crossing, dentally challenged alcoholic, is a tiresome presence, whose catalogue of drunken double takes wears thin after two minutes. And to think that Johnny Depp started out channelling the spirit of Chaplin in such films as Edward Scissorhands and Benny & Joon.

 

While Javier Bardem lends some manic heft as Salazar, his performance is largely diluted by meddlesome software. The true star, then, is the English actress Kaya Scodelario, who plays a plucky astronomer and horologist who, in spite of spending half the film tied up or with a noose around her neck, provides some spark of credibility. The production design is also outstanding, but can do little to rescue a film that is so convoluted, bloated, over-long and insistently nonsensical. Only Paul McCartney, as a pirate rotting in jail, raises a genuine smile with the old joke, “Did you hear the one about the skeleton who goes into a bar and asks for a beer and a mop?”

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Stephen Graham, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Paul McCartney, Bruce Spence.

 

Dir Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, Pro Jerry Bruckheimer, Screenplay Jeff Nathanson, Ph Paul Cameron, Pro Des Nigel Phelps, Ed Roger Barton and Leigh Folsom Boyd, Music Geoff Zanelli, Costumes Penny Rose, Dental Special Effects for Johnny Depp David S. Keen.

 

Walt Disney Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films-Walt Disney.

128 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 26 May 2017. Cert. 12A.