There’s a very good reason that Pirates Of The Caribbean is a billion-dollar franchise. Everyone loves pirates. And one pirate in particular, Captain Jack Sparrow – played with immaculate comic timing by Johnny Depp – has captured everyone’s hearts.
Speaking in an exclusive IMAX fan event before the screening, Depp said that one of the joys of playing the irrepressible Captain was that “… he’s like a tiny little drunk… he has no responsibilities… he never changes…”.
While that may be true of Jack, quite a lot has happened in the world of Pirates since the first film back in 2003. Most notably Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) have had a son, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) whose story forms the backdrop of this latest instalment. Or should that be reboot? Because, with Henry searching for his father, and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) taking on the Elizabeth Swan feisty-sidekick role, things feel warmly familiar.
That’s not to say that Salazar’s Revenge is simply Curse Of The Black Pearl Part 2. Pirates Five manages that tricky job of standing firmly on its own feet while delivering a fan-pleasing sequel that hits all the expected beats. Barbossa’s (Geoffrey Rush) backstory is filled in with some surprising revelations, as is Captain Jack’s. The story of the Flying Dutchman – left hanging at the end of The World’s End – comes to a satisfying conclusion. And, as Will and Carina search for a mysterious artefact to undo all curses, it seems that our original star-crossed lovers, Will and Elizabeth, just might get their own happy ever after. Emphasis on the might here. There’s an end of credits cookie that shouldn’t be missed.
However, it’s Javier Bardem as the titular Salazar who almost single-handedly turns Pirates Five into the stand-out film of the franchise. Bardem is more than electric. He’s a one-man thunderstorm: raging through the film like a vengeance-fuelled lightning bolt. You won’t want to miss a second of this man’s on-screen time.
The visuals are staggering and the film roller-coasters from set piece to set piece with barely enough time to shout Ahoy Me-Hearties. For viewers who choose a 3D IMAX screening, the result is literally a lot more bang for your buck as IMAX has a 1.9:1 aspect ratio that fills 26% more of the screen. That’s a whole lot of extra pirate action.
Co-Director Joachim Rønning has said that Salazar’s Revenge isn’t so much the end of the franchise as the “beginning of the end”. Does that mean that even more sea-faring shenanigans are heading our way soon? We can only hope so.