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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 31, 2017

‘Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge’ Movie Review: Does The World Need Another Repetitive Pirates Movie?

‘PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR’S REVENGE’ is the fifth movie in the franchise that started in 2003 with “The Curse of the Black Pearl” (for which Johnny Depp got an Oscar nomination as Capt. Jack Sparrow), followed by “Dead Man’s Chest” in 2006, “At World’s End” in 2007, and “On Stranger Tides” in 2011.

Honestly, the series already has so much “umay” factor us, even if we already know what we’re getting into when we get aboard. We seriously don’t think the world needs another repetitive Pirates movie. But then, the previous Pirates flicks are all huge blockbusters so we’re not surprised Disney cooked up another sequel after six long years.

Sorry to say though that Depp seems to be having so much difficulty trying to recapture the erstwhile mojo and twinkle of the cartoonish Jack Sparrow and his eyeliners. His star power has really waned after doing a series of flops like “Transcendence”, “Lone Ranger”, “Mortdecai”, “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “Black Mass”, so he surely needs another hit as a slurring swashbuckler to revive his career.

In the last Pirates movie, Jack and his enemy, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), were looking for the fountain of youth. Now, they’re after the Trident of Poseidon, a gadget that can reverse curses. Disney tries to blow new wind into this tired franchise that seriously need rejuvenation by getting Norwegian filmmakers Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg to direct it. Their film on legendary explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 expedition, “Kon Tiki”, got an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film in 2013. In their efforts to give new life to a worn out series, they throw everything in the book to energize, including famous Beatle Paul McCartney appearing in a cameo as Sparrow’s uncle.

With new directors come a new villain. This time, Jack is up against Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar, a pirate-hunter who got killed because of him when he was still a much younger sailor. Salazar and his crew members are all still undead in the Devil’s Triangle, so they want to take revenge on Jack and also get the Trident to remove the curse on them. It should be noted that Bardem’s wife, Penelope Cruz, was part of the last Pirates film, “On Stranger Tides”.

New romantic young leads are also added to help pep up the movie: Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brave and beautiful astronomer who’s accused of being a witch and looking for her long lost father; and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a handsome and reckless Royal Navy sailor who turns out to be the son of the franchise’s original lovers, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. Aboard Jack’s wreck of a ship called Dying Gull, they must now sail into the high seas to locate Poseidon’s powerful Trident.

The movie runs for two hours and a half and feels longer. It is a mixture of overblown, heavily choreographed action set pieces, starting with a bank robbery gone wrong in the island of St. Martin up to the attack of scary zombie sharks on the heroes and the climax which involves a new version of the parting of the Red Sea from “The Ten Commandments”. There’s also two long lost father and child subplots that give the movie some moving emotional resonance.

Bardem is menacing enough as the villain, just like in “Skyfall” and “No Country for Old Men”. Brenton Thwaites (of “Maleficent”) doesn’t seem to know much of swordplay but Kaya Scodelario (best known as Teresa in “The Maze Runner”) is quite impressive as the scene-stealing Carina. Given the right roles and the right push, she might be a bigger star in the future. We just don’t want to see her with Jack Sparrow again. It would be wise for her to abandon ship or just walk the plank to save herself from a sinking aquatic franchise.