After having to wait a whole two weeks to see this movie due to work commitments, my excitement levels were through the roof as I sat impatiently waiting for the movie to start. I’m not a big fan of most epic action movie franchises (Lord Of The Rings for example), I tend to get bored sitting through long run times, but Pirates Of The Caribbean is certainly different and has always kept me gripped to the edge of my seat throughout each adventure on the high seas.
After the mostly separate events of POTC: On Stranger Tides, POTC: Salazar’s Revenge brings back well beloved (and well missed) characters from the original trilogy, and introduces Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann’s (Keira Knightley) son, Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), who has spent his life desperately researching a way to break his fathers curse (Will was doomed to be captain of the Flying Dutchman for a whole eternity way back in POTC: At World’s End). Henry finds a myth about the legendary sea God Poseidon’s trident, which could be the key to breaking not just his father’s curse, but every sea curse that exists.
Meanwhile, the relentless undead Spanish Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his crew spring to life within the fatal Devil’s Triangle, killing everyone on an unsuspecting British Royal Navy ship with the intent of only leaving one man to tell the tale. When they find Henry aboard the vessel, Salazar tells Henry to find Captain Jack Sparrow, with whom Salazar has deadly unfinished business with.
Returning from previous movies in the franchise is, of course, the one and only Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, of whom without here simply would be no POTC. Depp continues to withhold all that we love about his trademark pirate; his quick-witted brash humour, his drunken dishevelled manor, and Sparrow’s knack to survive whatever is thrown his way. Geoffrey Rush returns as the equally famous Captain Hector Barbossa and Kevin McNally as Jack’s trusty friend, Joshamee Gibbs, both of whom follow suit from the previous movies with excellent character performances.
Javier Bardem is absolutely menacing as Captain Salazar; he is symbolic of death and destruction in a eery way that could even attempt to rival Davy Jones, and his character raises the body count to an all-time high with just a tap of his sword. The SFX team did a most spectacular job of making him and his crew appear suspended in floating animation, with many pieces of their bodies missing from the explosion that took their lives.
I’d say the breakthrough performance most certainly came from Skins and Maze Runner star Kaya Scodelario as scientist and astronomer, Carina Smyth. Following in the POTC leading lady footsteps of Keira Knightley and Penelope Cruz was never going to be an easy feat, especially as Elizabeth and Angelica were both headstrong, adventurous women ahead of their time, but what Kaya brings to Carina is unique. Both Elizabeth and Angelica knew their origins, but Carina grew up with no clue to her parentage, apart from a diary left to her by an unknown. This diary gave Carina purpose, and she dedicated her life to studying science… A hobby that unfortunately gets you accused of witchcraft in the 1700s, if you’re a woman. Carina’s brilliant mind is pivotal to the quest for the trident, and Scodelario plays her with a quirky arrogance and self-assurance that means she holds her own alongside a cast of swashbuckling pirates, without the need of swords or armour.
I feel like we still need to see more from Thwaites’ Henry. Apart from being the son of two of the franchises’ biggest names, I felt his character was slightly wasted, especially in the latter half of the movie. Thwaites is undoubtedly a talented actor and Henry certainly has likability which is what ultimately saves him, but I personally would’ve liked to have seen more Henry’s actual capabilities, aside from his early research on myths of the sea. His father was known for being a talented swordsman, but we don’t really see this trait in Henry. His attempt at rescue was a bit clumsy, and at a couple of points, he was even, what you could call, the “damsel in distress”. I’m hopeful that we will get a sequel which will further Henry’s development, so he gets to be known as more than just “Will Turner’s son”.
Lastly, I believe the true star of this movie is the grand production value itself. The visual effects are groundbreaking and pave the way the just what wonders can be produced in modern cinema. Despite being the only POTC to not be filmed in the Caribbean (instead opting for Australia), you can still feel like you’ve been whisked away to the land of the original Disneyland park attraction, with beautiful landscapes and the team building the most miraculous of scenery, including the many ships seen throughout the movie, my favourite being Barbossa’s with a wealth of skulls and bones set into the walls of his confides. The scriptwriting and storytelling elements were certainly not lost either. This POTC had some of the best new gags, and some perfect-timed comedy, even including a special appearance from Paul McCartney. The epic finale, without giving too much away, was simply breathtaking, and of course, there was a couple of big twists along the away too. Make sure you stay for the after-credits scene, as it hints at something huge…!
Have you seen POTC 5 yet? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!
*All images in this article are official screenshots from the movie and belong to The Walt Disney Company.*