Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl made some serious waves when it released. Being heralded as one of the best movies of the year it was the perfect blend of comedy, story and creepy ghost story. The movie also pioneered some incredible special effects that really stole the crowds attention.
Everyone wanted more and they were quick to deliver. With the returning cast remaining virtually the same with a couple additions here and there, everyone thought they were in for the same whacky swashbuckling adventure… but something was just different. They weren’t the same. They weren’t awful but they just weren’t anywhere near as good.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (Or the better working title Dead Men Tell No Tales) is a return to how the first one was. It’s ridiculous, whacky, full of pirate-y adventures and humour with all the serious overtones and plot points it requires. Cap’n Jack Sparrow is back on form as being more of the comic relief rather than the driving force behind the plot and that’s great. Sure he’s a key aspect of the plot (Salazar is trying to get revenge ON Jack) but he’s not the focus really.
I will say this for the story however, it’s never quite clear just how much progress is being made to the over arching goal they’re all striving toward. See, they’re hunting Poseidon’s Trident because it has the ability to break every curse on the sea. Will Turner is cursed to crew the Flying Dutchman for all time and his son, Henry, is pretty upset about not having a father. So he studied every ocean myth and legend so that he could find a way to break his curse. Salazar is cursed to remain on the oceans for all time because his hate and malice for being out witted by Jack Sparrow many years ago that lead to his ship sinking and everyone dying turned him into some kind of wraith.
So Salazar has a pretty unreasonably sized but justified grudge against Jack and hunts him across the seas to get his revenge (hence the title) and the Trident to break his curse and free himself. You get a huge clue to the location of the trident right at the start and they go on their merry way looking for it, but seem to spend ages making no real progress towards it. Until they suddenly all kinda happen upon it at once.
The journey itself is really quite enjoyable and so it’s not like you don’t have fun along the way and there’s stuff happening but it seems like the main bulk of the plot gets kinda sidelined for a while then they go “Oh wait that’s what we’re doing!” and crack on.
The movie has a lot of similarities to the first. Henry Turner starts out like his dad as a bit of a useless idealist who grows into his pirate roots as the movie progresses. There’s a nice little romance subplot going between him and Carina like his mother and father in the first one. Jack’s trying to get back the Pearl, after Blackbeard trapped it in a glass bottle, and Barbosa is just out to be Barbosa really. So a lot of the main components are the same which is great! They needed to get back to basics.
One of the best parts of the movie has to be the special effects regarding Salazar and his cursed crew. Most of them are blown apart and exist as ethereal limbs floating unattached to anything but still moving like they are. Remember that scene in Curse of the Black Pearl where the crew run along the bottom of the ocean? Well there’s a great homage to that where Salazar’s men run across the top of the water in a similar fashion. The effects work is genuinely astounding and a crowning achievement once again for the franchise.
It would be rude not to mention the return of the iconic and powerful soundtrack. All the great movies have an instantly recognisable soundtrack, just look at the Indiana Jones theme, Star Wars, James Bond (the little fanfare-y part if not the overall style of all the themes) and many others. They have an iconic theme that you can tell apart from the rest from just the opening few notes and to hear it again is quite simply magical. I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack and the musical score for the whole movie is fantastic. It captures the spirit of the pirate adventure perfectly. Hell it made me come home and re-download Sid Meier’s Pirates again just so I could go on my own adventures.
With the return of so many features it would be hard not to recapture the feel of the first movie. I can’t do the comedic value of the movie justice, I’m simply not that funny and it would ruin it for the rest of you, but there were moments that had the entire theatre in stitches with sniggers and giggles throughout. That being said it wasn’t all fun and games and the parts that were meant to be more serious and convey some powerful emotions did just that. Especially with one scene towards the very end of the movie but I definitely won’t spoil that one for you.
With so many great features and aspects it’s a shame that David Wenham was so under utilised throughout the movie. He’s present for a lot of it and you think he’s going to have a really major impact into the narrative but…he’s just kinda there. Doesn’t really do all that much of any note which I feel is a huge shame given his role as Harold Meachum in Ironfist earlier this year. That being said, the rest of the cast’s performance more than makes up for it. Johnny Depp’s Cap’n Jack is back on form as the unpredictable wild card type character making wise cracks and jibes here and there, not to mention the others. Kaya Scodelario lends herself brilliantly to her role as Carina Smith, the scholarly woman in a time when women weren’t expected to do much more than wear pretty dresses and talk about whatever gossip was going on at the time.
All in all the movie has its hang ups and qualms but if you’re looking for a return to the original movie’s kind of style then you’re in the right place! Ultimately it’s a great watch with its minor flaws but at the end of the day nothing is really perfect=