It must be quite difficult raising interest in a new Pirates Of The Caribbean film. This is the fifth time around for Captain Jack and the crew in an adventure that nobody was really calling out for, except, of course, for studio executives. The lead up to the release has not exactly been kind to the film with the spotlight firmly on Johnny Depp and his ongoing personal issues. Just when it seemed things were calming down after his very public divorce proceedings he hit the headlines again as his court battle with his former management team took all the column inches that should have been used in order to promote the new film. In a way this has helped the film in that expectations may not be as high as with previous outings.
Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) is on a quest. His father Will (Orlando Bloom) was cursed (in Dead Man’s Chest) and is doomed to spend all eternity on board The Flying Dutchman. Will has studied all the ancient texts and has figured out that if he finds the trident of Poseidon then all curses, including his fathers will be lifted. To find it he will be in need of help of a certain Captain Jack Sparrow. Times are tough for the pirate and just about to get worse as one of his previous conquests, Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his crew of the undead is now after him. Add a young woman Carina (Kaya Scodelario) who is searching for the trident while being pursued by the British Navy and you have the set up for a chase across the seas.
This film marks a welcome return to the emphasis on storytelling that was such a feature of the first adventure. Here the characters of Carina and Henry are at the heart rather than Jack Sparrow. The last couple of films in the franchise concentrated on Johnny Depp’s star power and performance skills to carry the film along. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to keep audiences engaged as it soon became repetitive and tiresome.
We follow a reasonably familiar story path in that the two personable leads join together in order to try to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and get their prize. It is the approach to the well worn story is brought to the screen that makes it fun. This is most certainly down to the direction from Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. They ensure that the action scenes are presented with a fresh style and a serious attention to detail. At no point in the midst of a sword fight or chase sequence do things appear to be muddled or the audience loses focus. The primary action scene is particularly well done. With a nod to Fast & Furious Five there features a bank robbery where not only the safe but the entire bank is dragged away as part of the heist.
The rest of the film takes the momentum gathered from the opening and keeps it up for the run time. There is very little in the way of extraneous content and the film comes in with a run time of just over two hours which is the shortest of all the films in the franchise. The only time it strays is for a cameo from Paul McCartney as Sparrow’s uncle. Even that doesn’t take away from the movie as it is short and actually not that bad. Another point to note that the film works as it isn’t spending any time setting up anther trilogy. This is a self contained film and is much better for it.
What these films encourage is some extensive scenery chewing by the actors. Here is no different with Geoffrey Rush and Depp both going enthusiastically over the top at every chance they get. Not to be outdone Javier Bardem goes all out as Salazar. All swirling hair and black mouth drool, he creates a menacing on-screen presence.
Though it won’t convert anyone who resisted the franchise up until now, there is enough here in terms of action, spectacle and humour to keep the massive fan base happy.