Director(s): Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg
Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Javier Bardem, Orlando Bloom
Age Restriction: 13 H V
Genre: Adventure, Action
Runtime: 2hrs 9min
Release Date: 26 May 2017
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is ready to grace us with his presence after a five-year hiatus.
Disney's profitable pirates franchise returns to the big screen with a fifth chapter; but why did it take us so long to get here? For starters, its predecessor – 2011's On Stranger Tides – disappointed critically, but ranked second in the franchise after walking away with well over a billion dollars.
However; instead of fast-tracking another regrettable sequel, Disney went back to the drawing board in an attempt to course correct their errors.
The Mouse House recruited Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg to helm their first major Hollywood blockbuster, while delaying the film until a good script materialised. Disney also ensured that the latest instalment tied closely with the original trilogy by bringing Orlando Bloom back into the fold.
Cut to a few years, and here we are with Dead Men Tell No Tales or Salazar's Revenge – the film's title in South Africa and Europe.
Salazar's Revenge follows Henry (Brenton Thwaites) – Will Turner's (Bloom) now grown-up son – and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) – an astronomer – who seek Jack Sparrow's help in finding the Trident of Poseidon.
Henry needs the trident to break his father's curse, while Carina seeks it to help unravel her past. Jack eventually agrees to assist the duo in finding the trident after learning that his old nemeses, Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem), and his ghost army have returned for bloodthirsty revenge.
So, do Disney's precautionary measures return the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to its former glory?
The script by Jeff Nathanson had plenty great ideas on the table. Unfortunately, the potential is squandered in favour of a predictable straightforward plot – unlike the twists and turns the franchise is so renowned for.
To make matters even worse, the script is overstuffed with multiple ideas for a film less than two and a half hours long. The result: a bullet train that attempts to cover too much in a short span of time, resulting in an under-plotted affair with an uninspired endgame.
Despite its many script issues, the plot for Salazar's Revenge has enough adequacies to entertain – even if it can't live up to the original trilogy. The good news is that it's hardly a slog, as the undercooked ideas with potential will keep viewers glued to the screen. Salazar's Revenge also ties up loose ends from previous films – so if Disney ever decides to scrap a sixth instalment, then they at least concluded the franchise with a proper send-off.
While Salazar's Revenge is a far cry from the first instalment, it does come close to the original in terms of comedy and characters. I've never laughed so hard for a Pirates of the Caribbean film since the 2003 original – a testament to the effort that went into ensuring the dialogue was as snappy as possible. Nathanson's script is filled with emotion and well-fleshed out characters that audiences can actually root for.
Depp and Geoffrey Rush never fail to impress as Jack and Hector Barbossa respectively; while newcomers Thwaites, Bardem and Scodelario (in particular) are welcome additions.
With a massive blockbuster price tag, expect lavish eye-popping visuals and compelling action sequences involving zombie sharks.
Verdict: While Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge is an improvement over its predecessor; Disney nevertheless fails to restore the franchise to its former glory. What we end up with is a sequel that squanders its potential in favour of an ordinary, under-plotted romp.