Pirates of the Caribbean has done very well for itself, considering it's a franchise that came about from the popularity of a theme park ride at Disneyland. Taking plenty of money at the box-office over the four films so far, the fifth film, Dead Men Tell No Tales or Salazar's Revenge here in the UK (annoyingly) has been unleashed in cinemas. Could it provide the franchise with a much needed energy boost after the underwhelming On Stranger Tides?

When Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) escapes from the Devil's Triangle, he sets about getting revenge on Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), the man who caused Salazar and his crew to perish and remain cursed. With the help of Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), Jack Sparrow must search the seas for the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that gives whoever is in possession power over the seas.
I don't really no why but I went into Salazar's Revenge with a sense of optimism that it would provide the franchise its best film since The Curse of the Black Pearl some fourteen years ago. Unfortunately the result is a film that feels as uninspired as the previous entry. I suppose the warning signs of franchise fatigue were there but this should have been a much better film than it turned out.

Back when Pirates of the Caribbean began, it was a simple film that blew people away with how entertaining and fresh it all felt. As the franchise has gone on though, the films have become weighed down with too many plot points and a feeling of staleness that makes for a more dreary experience as a viewer. 

Where Salazar's Revenge makes its biggest mistake is with the narrative. Don't get me wrong, this is a pretty simple story however, they try to chuck in subplots that just feel so forced that it doesn't allow the audience to connect emotionally with either the characters or the narrative properly. Decisions like that always feel to me as if they made them as they were making the film and would have been better left to remain as an idea.
A major strength of the franchise has been the stellar visual effects and, while they are still mostly impressive here, there are certain points where it looks unfinished and cheap. Salazar himself just looks ghastly in comparison with the magnificent work on Davy Jones earlier in the franchise. They do aid the action sequences immensely mind, even if there is only one really imaginative sequence that comes right at the start of the film. Just a shame that they don't make the most of having zombie sharks and that the finale is really dull.

One of the other major strengths of these films is the riveting score that has accompanied each and every film. That is no different in Salazar's Revenge as Geoff Zanelli composes a score that captures the swashbuckling essence of the film rather well. I will always hum along to the main theme as it plays over the end credits.

Coming to the performances, Salazar's Revenge sees Johnny Depp once again lazily play the character that has done so much for his career. It doesn't help that Sparrow is now written as a man who just falls over and screams all of the time but Depp couldn't look more unenthused if he tried. I can't even say Geoffrey Rush was a highlight in this one because even he looks as if he's given up on the film. Javier Bardem makes a valiant effort to make it feel as if there is actually something at stake in this film with his villainous turn as Salazar however, it's nothing that will be remembered.

I was actually surprised at how much I took to the new characters portrayed by Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario. I haven't really seen much of either before but I found myself more interested in what their respective characters were getting up to. Fourteen years ago I would have said Jack Sparrow is a character I can't wait to see more but now I wouldn't mind if they got rid of him totally. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley both return a full ten years after their last appearances as Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, Bloom getting a little more screen time whereas Knightley feels a little shoehorned in at the end, which feels a bit disrespectful seeing as she was one of the main characters of the original trilogy.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge is luckily not the worst film of the franchise, an honour still held by On Stranger Tides. What it is though is a lacklustre effort that shows the world that the ship has well and truly sailed for this particular franchise.

Verdict: ★★


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