Precious and perilous » Manila Bulletin Entertainment

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‘Salazar’s Revenge’ is a notable feat of world-building, and populating that world with things dark and light, grave and humorous all bound by the sea.

MOVIE REVIEW:

This year’s “Pirates Of The Caribbean” film is the fifth in the billion dollar franchise. Starting in 2003, Captain Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl have gone on exciting and funny adventures. So much so that it seems too big to fail. The world of the pirates keeps audiences coming back for more, like a good book series you keep reading simply because there’s a new one out.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

As with all previous “Pirates” films, “Salazar’s Revenge” stars Johnny Depp (“Rango,” “Transcendence”) as the incomparable Jack, drunk with rum and chasing after fame, women and gold, in any order that is most convenient for him at the moment.

Returning as well is Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa, fellow scoundrel and long time rival/ally of Jack. And joining them on this outing are Kaya Scodelario, Benton Thwaites and Academy Award winner Javier Bardem, a Royal Spanish Navy Captain who, along with his men, were cursed (naturally) to never leave the Devil’s Triangle, a portion of the sea where ships enter but never leave. He has a history with Jack of course, and when he finally gets the opportunity to free himself from the Triangle, he pursues Jack with a rage to rival Davy Jones’ own.

The attraction to most viewers would probably be Jack himself, his antics and misadventures. Or perhaps the daring sword fights and stunts. But also of note is that over the five movies, the filmmakers succeeded in a notable feat of world-building, and populating that world with things both dark and light, grave and humorous, precious and perilous. But all them are connected and bound by the sea.

The pirates have their own laws, their Pirate’s Code (which are to be thought of as more of guidelines than anything else). They have their differences but there is some honor among them. Not much, as audiences can see, but some.

However beyond the cannonballs and tattered Jolly Rogers flags lies a realm filled with mermaids, sea monsters, curses and dead men walking. It is a world both dark and enchanting, and therein lies the attraction of these movies. It brings you to a world both familiar and different.

Effects-wise this marks the first time Industrial Light and Magic did not have a hand with the visual effects. The powerhouse effects house has been involved with the “Pirates” movies since its inception, but this time around it falls to Moving Picture Company, RodeoFX and Lola Visual Effects to pick up the slack. The sum of their work give us Salazar and his cursed men of the Spanish Navy that are frightening in their disembodiment, along with epic large scale water scenes and a flashback with young Jack.

A scene from ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge’ (mb.com.ph)

A scene from ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge’

If you really, really enjoy the franchise, this is a must-see. If you simply like the humor and wit and what have you, this movie is more of the same. We have a treasure to find, a young man and a comely damsel, Hector, and a Captain whom Jack crossed recently in the past. The details are new and different but beyond them, the elements are roughly the same. It is familiar and like the James Bond series, familiarity can be comforting.

The story unfolds in such a way that the major plot points from the previous films are closed and tied up, while at the same time it does not set up much for future installments. At first it was rumored that the fifth and sixth films were to be shot back-to-back but now it turns out the rumors were false, giving the impression that “Salazar’s Revenge” would be the last outing for good ol’ Cap’n Jack Sparrow. However, some reports have said that this was only the beginning of the end, possibly in a similar fashion to how “Fast And Furious 8” was the beginning of the end that culminates in “Fast 10.”

Should the high-seas adventures come to an end, I wouldn’t mind. Yes, the movies are fun and the action frantic and the effects epic, but overall, this chapter ends with everyone concerned in a good place. Anything more, unless very thoughtfully done, runs the risk of overstaying the franchise’s welcome in people’s lives.

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