Pirates of the Carribean – Salazar’s Revenge ⭐⭐½

It could be the almost zero expectations after the disastrous On Stranger Tides (⭐½) or desperation for any English language film in Rome but I find myself not as irritated as I thought I would be for this 5th outing for Jack Sparrow and his crew. Skipping the pointless exercise of summarizing the story, reflecting what the 7 people credited as writers did themselves, the film remains a cynical money-grab for Disney, but the 2hrs+ flew by and there are at least 2 or 3 decent action sequences (worth noting that both the bank robbery and the guillotine sequences are shot during the day, thus avoiding the murkily dark cheating that annoyed me so much in Pirates 4) that justify its summer blockbuster status by being well-executed, rather silly and almost joyful. Believe it or not, there are 2 Oscar winners in the cast and Geoffrey Rush is definitely the best thing here as he is given some story to work with. There is also potential and occasional sparks from newcomer Kaya Scodelario who is the new Keira – compared to the bland Brenton Thwaites, unless he is channelling Orlando Bloom and plays his role like a chip off the old wooden block. However, the bigger problem overall is the lack of charm and wit in an unoriginal script that just rehashes old storylines that were nonsensical in the first place anyway. In particular, Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow who used to be able to make all this fun and forgivable, now seems increasingly grating and desperate, acting like a drunken uncle to be avoided at a family dinner. In the end, Pirates 5 is like any well-worn franchises where it reaches the point when the studio lazily triggers the remake-reboot option. The once youthful characters have grown old and tired, so younger replicants are introduced, usually of the next generation, so that the franchise can seemingly be rejuvenated and the original actors are tempted to return by giving them gravitas. But as we have learnt, more often than not, it just ends up being a poor copy of its predecessor that does no favours to neither fans nor newcomers.

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