For a genuine family box office behemoth, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, much like that of those pesky Transformers, has had a curious history. Principally because in both instances the first movie in the series was massively well received and then each of its subsequent sequels has taken an almighty critical kicking from pretty much everyone, but still somehow gone on to deliver a billion bucks at the box office. And then, of course, there’s the fact that neither franchise – both of which are returning to our screens this summer – was ever initially based on an actual script, the former a spin-off from a theme park ride, the latter from a fiddly toy line.
Word from Las Vegas, though, where Disney recently screened this fifth instalment of the adventures of Captain Jack and co, is that Pirates has only gone and got its mojo back. And not just because it has ACTUAL ZOMBIE SHARKS in it. Directed by Norwegian duo Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, this one sees old Cap searching for the trident of Poseidon. But, crucially, it has also apparently learned from the mistakes made by its previous entries. As such, Orlando Bloom is back, as is a strong female lead (Skins’ Kaya Scodelario replacing the absent, apart from a brief cameo, Keira Knightley), and Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack – so brilliant in small doses, so irritating in longer ones – has been relegated back to more of a supporting role. Meanwhile, Javier Bardem apparently brings proper bad boy with his decomposing pirate Salazar, out, as the title would have it, for payback. Mainly, though, this time out the makers seem to have delivered something with the same kind of family-friendly running time of the original, as opposed to the two-hour-plus slogathons the sequels became. So consider us back on board.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge hits May 18.