PI­RATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR’S RE­VENGE

The Po­sei­don ad­ven­ture…

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Is it just us, or does Salazar’s Re­venge sound like tapas food poi­son­ing?

Six years since we last rode the high seas with Cap’n Jack Spar­row in On Stranger Tides, Johnny Depp re­turns to his sig­na­ture role. With his ship the Black Pearl now shrunken in­side a tiny bot­tle, he’s even more hap­less than usual, in charge of a bare-bones ves­sel named the Dy­ing Gull. This is not a bad omen, as Salazar’s Re­venge is a hugely en­joy­able ride.

With the (Dis­ney-friendly) theme of parenthood wo­ven through­out Jeff Nathanson’s ( Catch Me If You Can) script, Re­venge in­tro­duces new direc­tors, new he­roes and one of the best Pi­rates vil­lains the fran­chise

has seen in the shape of Javier Bar­dem’s tit­u­lar sea­man. Stuck in the Devil’s Tri­an­gle, this ghostly cap­tain – bril­liantly aug­mented with CGI – seeks vengeance on Spar­row for rea­sons that be­come clear later on. “He took every­thing from me and filled me with rage and pain,” he spits, lash­ings of black goo com­ing from his mouth.

Also en­twined in the story is Henry (Bren­ton Th­waites), son to Will Turner and El­iz­a­beth Swann, who is des­per­ate to un­lock his fa­ther (Orlando Bloom) from his be­low-sea curse. When Henry en­coun­ters Salazar, it leads him to Spar­row, as well as Kaya Scode­lario’s or­phan as­tronomer Ca­rina, “a woman of science” who is prob­a­bly the only one smart enough to find the Tri­dent of Po­sei­don, the ocean-con­trol­ling, curse-lift­ing MacGuf­fin ev­ery­one’s af­ter. And in case you were miss­ing him, Ge­of­frey Rush’s now-wealthy ri­val pi­rate Bar­bossa gets roped in, too.

Nor­we­gian di­rect­ing duo Joachim Røn­ning and Espen Sand­berg (2012’s sea­far­ing epic Kon-Tiki) nail their first ma­jor block­buster with some aplomb. The pac­ing is spot-on, the set-pieces memorable and all the char­ac­ters are al­lowed to shine, with­out it ever be­com­ing The Johnny Depp Show. Stand­out mo­ments in­clude the open­ing bank rob­bery (with horses tow­ing an en­tire build­ing away), an ex­e­cu­tion scene com­plete with swing­ing guil­lo­tine and Salazar un­leash­ing some ghostly sharks (su­per-scary in 3D).

Led by Depp, the hu­mour is salty (jokes about a one-legged man with 18lb balls and Ca­rina be­ing a horol­o­gist) but not to ex­cess. Th­waites and Scode­lario are quite watch­able, with their 12A ro­mance bub­bling un­der, and Bar­dem, if not let fully off the leash, à la Sky­fall, still has a ball as the bad­die.

With a cou­ple of neat cameos too, in­clud­ing a cer­tain mu­si­cian who ri­vals Keith Richards’ turn in the ear­lier Pi­rates movies, it’s cer­tainly the most en­joy­able en­try since 2003 se­riesstarter The Curse Of The Black Pearl. Fac­tor in a sur­pris­ingly sat­is­fy­ing fi­nale – emo­tional, ro­man­tic, swash­buck­ling – it’s every­thing you could want from a Pi­rates movie. James Mot­tram

THE VER­DICT

A rol­lick­ing romp, with ev­ery­body on top form, this is a sum­mer block­buster par ex­cel­lence.

Stop­ping for di­rec­tions again, Salazar was de­ter­mined to get back to Sky­fall Lodge. Cer­tifi­cate 12A Di­rec­tor Joachim Røn­ning, Espen Sand­berg Star­ring

Johnny Depp, Javier Bar­dem, Ge­of­frey Rush Screen­play Jeff Nathanson Dis­trib­u­tor Walt Dis­ney Run­ning time 128 mins

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