It may not be a universal view, but I’ve always enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Ever since the original way back in 2003, the Disney offerings have always felt like a big deal – mixing stellar star power with swashbuckling action that is suitable for the entire family without ever being too child-orientated.
That being said, the fourth instalment of Pirates (2011’s On Stranger Tides) fell well short of the original trilogy, meaning the onus was firmly on Salazar’s Revenge to restore the series’ credibility.
With that in mind, you’ll want to know if the Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg-directed blockbuster recaptures the magic of the first three films.
The answer, sadly, is not quite. But it’s a definite improvement on Pirates 4 – mainly because the new characters blend nicely with series stalwarts Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).
Sailor Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and beautiful astronomer Carina (Kaya Scodelario) are the injection of young blood the flagging franchise needed, while Javier Bardem’s villainous Captain Salazar also makes for a solid bad guy.
Although Henry and Carina are never as charming as Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner and Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann, they do have some enjoyable moments with good old Captain Jack, with the trio’s fates very much intertwined.
I’ll not venture into spoiler territory with my quick round-up of the story but, be warned, there are a few details you’ll want to avoid online if you’re looking to enjoy the surprises this film has in its locker.
Anyway, both Henry and Carina are searching for the mythical Poseidon’s trident, something that they hope will provide answers to their respective family riddles.
Jack, meanwhile, also covets the trident in a bid to shake off his biggest fear – Captain Salazar and his cursed undead crew.
Salazar, who hates all pirates, wants revenge on Jack and will stop at nothing to find him.
With Barbossa caught in the middle, all of the main characters are on a collision course with each other.
That makes for a string of typically impressive action sequences, which include the obligatory comedy moments Depp’s Sparrow has become famous for.
The mix of inventive stunts and comedy action will always be welcome in these films, but there is a nagging sense that we’ve seen it all before.
As good an actor as Depp is, his Jack Sparrow doesn’t really bring anything fresh to the table and you do get a sense he may have now outstayed his welcome as the series’ lead.
Indeed, there has been much talk that Salazar’s Revenge will be the final slice of Pirates action.
If that’s the case, the overall story is wrapped up quite nicely.
But you do feel that there is more mileage in Thwaites and Scodelario as a lead duo moving forward.
Staying with the new blood, Bardem’s Salazar could have been built up a little better. His performance varies between comedic and pretty scary, but he doesn’t really get a truly memorable villainous moment.
Those frustrations aside, Salazar’s Revenge is – typically – visually impressive and boasts a trademark soundtrack that delivers.
It’s a good film to see at the cinema and is suitable for most children.
But, sadly, it doesn’t ever reach the heights of the original trilogy.
Voice Verdict: 7/10 (reviewed at Boston’s West End Cinema)
+ Trademark inventive action
+ Strong cast
+ Strong visuals and score
– Fails to live up to original trilogy
Boston’s West End Cinema (Fri, June 2 to Thurs, June 8)
**WONDER WOMAN 3D (12A)
11.20am (Fri/Sat/Sun), 5.20pm (Daily)
**WONDER WOMAN 2D (12A)
2.20pm (not Mon/Tues), 8.20pm (daily)
10am (Fri/Sat), 12.30pm (not Mon/Tues), 3pm (not Mon/Tues), 5.45pm (daily), 8.40pm (daily)
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR’S REVENGE 2D (12A)
11am (Fri/Sat/Sun), 2pm (not Mon/Tues), 8.15pm (daily)
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR’S REVENGE 3D (12A)
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL (U)
10am (Fri/Sat/Sun), Noon (Fri/Sat/Thurs), 2.10pm (Fri/Sat/Sun/Thurs), 4pm (Mon), 6pm (Mon), 4.20pm (Not Mon), 6.30pm (Not Mon/Tues)
ALIEN COVENANT (15)
2pm (Wed), 8.40pm (not Wed)
KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD (12A)
2pm (Wed), 8.40pm (not Weds)
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOLUME 2 2D (12A)
3pm (not Tues), 8.20pm (not Mon)
Fri-Sun 10.15am – Lego Batman 2D (U)
Wed 11.30am – Snatched (15)
Tuesday 6pm – Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge 2D (12A)
**FREE LIST SUSPENDED