Friday 23 February 2018

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge movie review: Depp returns for more pirate panto schtick

3* Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge Action/Fantasy. Starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Geoffrey Rush. Directors: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. Cert: 12A.

Pirates of the Carribbean
Pirates of the Carribbean

Chris Wasser

What number are we on, eh? The press release tells us that Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge (also known as Dead Men Tell No Tales, depending on which part of the world you're in) is Johnny Depp's fifth outing as Captain Jack Sparrow. Fifth, lads. FIFTH. That's a lot of Jack Sparrow. Too much, in fact. What do we need to know?

Well, chances are, you've seen at least one of these things. There are pirates. There are pantomime shenanigans. There is swashbuckling aplenty. Pirates 5 is a bit of a greatest hits. It's also a bit of a reboot. It could very well be the closing chapter (for real, this time).

Oh, and the budget is freakin' insane (at least $230m, according to the stats). Put it this way, you can see every single dollar up there on the screen. But here's the big surprise: Pirates 5 is actually - wait for it, wait for it! - kinda all right. Betcha didn't see that one coming.

We'll do our best to squeeze the convoluted plot into a couple of paragraphs. It won't be easy. Jack Sparrow (Depp) is in trouble (again). He has literally robbed a bank - as in, the building, not the cash. But that's not enough to win the respect of his crew members. Partly, because, by the time they're finished destroying an entire town with said bank building, they end up with no loot. Sparrow is finished.

Fortunately, Will Turner's son, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) shows up just in time to give Sparrow a new mission: his dad (Orlando Bloom, in case you forgot) is under some curse under the sea. If Mini Bloom can find Poseidon's Trident, or something, the curse will be broken and everyone will go home happy.

Kaya Scodelario plays Carina, an orphan astronomer, who tags along for the ride. Geoffrey Rush returns as Hector Barbossa. Javier Bardem plays the undead pirate hunter who has a bone to pick with Sparrow. Throw in a playful Paul McCartney cameo, and a young CGI Depp (for the obligatory flashback scenes) and we're all square.

Pirates 5 is… well, it's a lot of things, really. Big. Bloated. Barmy. But if we need another Pirates film in our lives (and the folks at Disney would argue that we most certainly do), then at least this one remembers to be occasionally entertaining. It's a bit of fun. It's never boring. Pirates 5 might be unremarkable, but at least it's tolerable (they can have that one for the posters).

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley make an appearance. Bardem splutters and wheezes under copious layers of CGI and make-up. They know this is a theme-park ride. They know they're all here for the money. They make the most of what they're given. The rest is fancy CG carnage and chaos. And then there's Depp.

At this stage of the game, he is but a prop in his own franchise. He doesn't have many lines. He repeats the drunken pirate schtick from Pirates Volumes 1-4. He is the world's most overpaid panto star. But at least he's good at it. So, um, that's it. Pirates 5 is grand. Better than expected. A serviceable sequel. Will there be another one? Dunno. Depends on how fast Johnny Depp spends his pay cheque. Enjoy.


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