So, I went into this movie not expecting much. I’d enjoyed the first Two Pirates movies years ago, mostly for the swashbuckling adventure and Jack Sparrow, of course. But time was not kind to this franchise.
It’s third and fourth instalments both range from over-long to downright unnecessary. So will this fifth adventure bring life back to the franchise. Well, in many ways yes, it does.
Permanently drunk pirate Jack Sparrow has made his fair share of enemies over the years, including Davy Jones at one point. But now his enemies are coming back from the grave for their revenge.
Following the story of Will Turner’s son searching for the Trident of Poseidon, to save his father from a cursed life aboard The Flying Dutchman. Thinking his best route of action is to seek out his father’s former friend Jack Sparrow, the journey takes his through the feared ‘Devil’s triangle’ where his Navy crewmates are killed by a ship sailed by the undead, lead by the vengeful Captain Salazar, who gives Henry Turner a warning to take to Jack Sparrow.
Meanwhile, a young woman due to be hanged for being a witch escapes, convinced she holds the map that leads to the Trident, she spends the movie on the run from the law. On the same island, coincidentally, Jack Sparrow is pulling off an elaborate bank heist, which ultimately proves unfruitful, resulting in his crew leaving.
Through a series of contrivances Henry comes across Sparrow and the woman (named Carina) and the three plot to go after the Trident together, soon after Catrina and Jack are captured and set to be executed, only to be rescued by Henry and Jack’s former crew.
They take to the seas in a barely floating old ship where they encounter Salazar at every turn, who is at times aided by Jack’s best frenemy Captain Barbosa.
I want to avoid spoilers if I can in my reviews so I’ll leave the summary of the plot there before I give away any big twists or plot points.
Seeing Johnny Depp play Jack Sparrow is like slipping into an old, comfy t-shirt. It’s a welcome sight to see Depp return to this character after a few years of shall we say, mixed verdicts. For what it’s worth he looks like he relishes stepping back into the part and jumps back into it with gusto, giving us moments of humour at the captain’s expense.
Henry Turner and Catrina are the new additions in this film, and Catrina in particular stands out as strong, independent character, often resulting in her being called a witch and sent to the gallows, she sticks to her guns and principles, and it’s nice to see them move away from a ‘damsel in distress’ archetype, even though there is an undercurrent of romance between her and Henry.
Henry himself has his moments of greatness, but overall is probably the least fleshed out of the characters, as a result can come across as quite generic, but his goals and ambitions are believable, and he shows just enough character to get behind.
The villain is where this movie comes alive however, Javier Bardem is quite brilliant as a bad guy, as seen in Skyfall, and here portrays a villain who for all intents and purposes is of a heroic nature, he believes he is in the right and that’s what makes him, there are many angles from which it is to see him as a good guy in another story, but this being a story focusing on typically rule-breaking, rum-swilling pirates our interpretation of ‘good’ is somewhat skewed.
Elsewhere, Geoffrey Rush looks typically comfortable as Barbosa, this time cast as a somewhat ‘king of the seas’ before being dragged back into Jack Sparrow’s life, and there’s also a highly amusing cameo from Sir Paul McCartney, of all people.
At the end of the day, this movie isn’t going to win any Oscars’ but we knew that. It’s very enjoyable and very well directed and it more than steadies the ship (see what I did there?) but it feels like it should definitely be the last one, however talk has already started for a sixth instalment so there’s not much chance of that, however, that doesn’t make this movie any worse, in fact I’m willing to recommend it, which I never thought I would going in.