Tuesday, June 6, 2017


June 6, 2017

Walt Disney Pictures is squeezing some more juice out of its Pirates franchise, coming up with a fifth installment this year. The series began in 2003 with "The Curse of the Black Pearl," followed by "Dead Man's Chest" (2006), "At World's End" (2007), then "On Stranger Tides" (2011). This latest film has the rather generic subtitle of "Dead Men Tell No Tales" in the US, but here in our country, a more plot-specific "Salazar's Revenge" is used. 

Capt. Jack Sparrow is all washed up, with no ship, no treasure, and no crew. He even had to part with his compass with mystical powers in order to get a swig of liquor to drink. When he let go of his compass though, Sparrow inadvertently freed the cursed ship of Capt. Armando Salazar and his undead pirate hunters out of the Devil's Triangle. Salazar now sought to find Sparrow in order to exact his bitter revenge on the pirate who trapped him and his ship there in the Devil's Triangle in the first place. 

Meanwhile we are also introduced to two other new characters. Henry Turner is the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann from the first three films of the series. Henry is determined to find the Trident of Poseidon to save his father Will from the curse of his ship, the Flying Dutchman. Carina Smyth is a woman accused to be a witch, simply because she is knowledgeable in astronomy. She is also on a quest to find the Trident of Poseidon based on the map in the diary left with her by her unknown father.

Back in 2003, Johnny Depp received a SAG for Best Actor, and was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his fresh portrayal of the eccentric Capt. Jack Sparrow in "Curse of the Black Pearl". With every sequel that came out over the years, his flamboyant drunkard schtick got old fast. Here in "Salazar's Revenge," he was barely funny at all, an unmemorable caricature slapstick performance. His best scenes were those enhanced by grandiose stunts, such as the elaborate bank robbery scene and the hilarious spinning guillotine scene. 

Brenton Thwaites already headlined films like "The Giver" (2014) and "Gods of Egypt" (2016). Kaya Scodelario made her film debut in the acclaimed 2009 sci-fi film "Moon" and had already played Catherine Earnshaw in a 2011 remake of "Wuthering Heights." They do well in the roles of spunky romantic young leads Henry and Carina. They seem very much in the same molds as Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, who both return in cameos in this new film and maybe in future sequels, if ever.

Of course, Javier Bardem (as Salazar) and Geoffrey Rush (as Barbossa) do very well in their respective roles as can be expected from actors of their stature. However, even they could not seem to lift the sagging energy of this particular installment. Not even the supposedly spectacular visual effects in the climactic scenes provided any sense of awe and wonder. The plot development was contrived and confusing over its long 2-1/2 hour running time, aggravated by editing and direction (by Norwegian directing team Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg) that felt lazy and uninspired. 5/10. 

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