“Wait Five! They did five?!” you say. Yes they did. The reckless, lucky and somewhat daft pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), has featured in five Pirates of The Caribbean. And they all rate a little differently, so before I start on the fifth one, let me give you a brief review on the other four.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Black Pearl
This is where we meet Captain Jack Sparrow, William Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightly) and Captain Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) for the first time. It certainly sets the series and lets the audience know what to expect. Aztec gold, cursed pirates, a wordsmith or two, and a woman who is perhaps more pirate than she realises. Hypnotising and enchanting from the get-go.
Jack wants his Pearl back, William wants Elizabeth, Elizabeth wants to go home (and William), Norrington wants Elizabeth, and Barbossa wants to get rid of a curse. At first, all these wants seem disconnected, except Will is the key to breaking Barbossa’s and his crew’s curse, Barbossa has the Pearl, Elizabeth needs Norrington’s help and Barbossa is not willing to give up the Pearl.
With all these characters wanting different things, each another character has, you can imagine how this chaos starts. It is not just a story about a… terrible pirate. It is a story about the other characters too, and that is why their story (in the majority) continues in the franchise.
What I loved about this film was not only the good acting… because lets face it, walking like Jake must have been tiresome at times, and the facial expressions from the actors as they realised that they have just been checked and outdone by another character is brilliant.
It is hard not to fall in love with these characters. All of them.
Including these guys:
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Want more of these characters? Then this film is for you, perhaps not as enchanting as the first, but certainly not that far off. This time, Captain Jack Sparrow comes face to face with one of the most infamous and immortal beings of the sea, Davy Jones. Jack comes up with a plan to avoid Davy Jones’ Locker but can he let the Pearl go? And that’s not the only temptation he faces!
It starts with the lovebirds, Will and Elizabeth, arrested on their wedding day for helping Jack escape. Will has to get the compass from Jack to save Elizabeth from the gallows. But Jack is a bit preoccupied with escaping the locker and also some ancient island tribe that has a taste for long-pig.
Jack tells William he will help save Elizabeth if William finds and brings him a key, tricking poor Will onto Davy Jones’ ship. It’s fine though, almost. He meets his cursed father, much to the delight of Jones, and gambles his soul away in a loosely-based game of Liar’s Dice. Loosely based because they only play one round out of a possible 14. But it doesn’t matter, there was probably no way of showing the official rules in the film’s time frame and most people won’t notice.
This film is full of hilarious scenes as Jack faces a tribe who sees him as a god—and believe me when I say that is not a good thing—Norrington and Will fight over a treasure chest, and Elizabeth plots an unforgettable betrayal in many ways. In fact, she has embraced her pirate nature.
The end leaves a cliff-hanger on what is next as we see Jack lose a battle.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
William Turner, Elizabeth Swann and the crew of the Black Pearl plan to rescue Jack. Jack shows signs of insanity, and the Pirate Brethren must come together to find a way to stop Davy Jones before the sea is lost forever. Although, for me, my favourite bit is the beginning:
Another good film in the series, another couple of hours of Jack finding the correct words to get out of trouble, and another movie where Elizabeth’s true nature is revealed and she becomes a wordsmith of her own.
Here, the characters are developed more. Barbossa takes over Jack’s position as Captain as he and the crew travel to the edge of the world to free Jack from Davy Jones Locker. Tension rises between the two lovebirds as William does not tell Elizabeth he saw her betrayal, and Elizabeth feels guilty for her betrayal, but for different reasons.
Some sad and emotional scenes as Elizabeth experiences a loss that cannot be fixed by magic, and as the secrets from the previous film are revealed. But there is more on the Pirate lore in this film. There is a parliament of pirate lords, and there is a pirate king that must be elected because of the song. Now, I don’t understand why the song calls for a pirate king, it isn’t explained why the song is connected, but it is… somehow.
This is one of my favourites purely because of the character depth and world building.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At Stranger Tides
Can we just… forget this one existed? Please! No seriously, It does not exist!
I could cope with the mermaid… it’s not the first time magic appears in the film. I could cope with Blackbeard… but it really wasn’t Johnny Depp’s strongest moments.
Sure he gets into trouble and luck is on his side, but it just wasn’t enchanting… in fact by the time Jack actually gets to sea, because for some reason, he is on land without a ship again, I was already bored. In fact, he didn’t get himself to sea! An imposter, pretending to be Jack, lured him out, kidnapped him and snuck him onto Blackbeard’s ship.
We have just done a tyrant Sea Captain, Disney! And not only that, this one doesn’t really have any interest in Jack in particular…
Apart from the boring beginning, this film is almost a repeat of the second and third film -just without the walking-dead pirates. It is the only film in the series to have all the characters alive!
Tyrant Sea Captain, Jack in peril, a Mermaid and the fountain of Youth. Also, by the end he takes a large chance. He gambles the life of one of the characters… yes he is mostly certain that he knew what Blackbeard would do, but there was no guarantee. Jack does bluffs, but only if he is in control of them.
I just feel that this film falls far from the tree. There are only four Pirates of the Caribbean, alright?
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge
The true forth film! I mark this as five stars, but maybe the monstrosity of Stranger Tides had an influence on that. What I love about this film is you do not have to have watched Stranger Tides to understand it. It is a perfect follow-up after the first three films.
Not only that, the beginning felt like the first three films. Mysterious beginning, Jack in peril, and some hilarious and memorable scenes from the get go. In fact one scene, very similar to the waterwheel in the second film, makes your skin prickle as Jack has a brush with death.
The second the music starts to play, the feel of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise hits. The action is enchanting, the cinematography is spectacular, the plot comes in multitudes
Cast and Acting
The scene opens up with a boy, Henry Turner, visiting his cursed father and promising to set him free. It is within the first ten minutes of the film that we can appreciate the good casting that has gone into the film. William Turner (Orlando Bloom) has aged to look like his father Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgård). Jump nine years and we are greeted with Orlando bloom’s double, Brenton Thwaites, who plays William’s son, Henry.
The likeness in the characters is absolutely stunning, but that would have meant nothing if Brenton Thwaites could not act, and he can definitely act! His very movements, actions and the way he speaks is an echo of William Turner, but with an absent father, well he didn’t really pick up on his father’s sword skills. Instead, he was trained by the Royal Navy—and as a man in his early 20s, he probably did not have much training before he was sent to sea. It shows!
I love how he echos Orlando Bloom’s acting from the other films—he also manages to somehow make sure that does not shadow his own performance by becoming his own character. William was probably a little bit too protective of Elizabeth, but Henry realises that his love interest not only has a mind of her own, but perhaps more intelligent than the crew put together.
Oh yes, and the Love Interest.
Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario). Unlike Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) Carina does not utilises societal views on women to get what she wants. She uses her brain. This, in a society where women with brain power is a threat, often gets her into trouble. In fact, Carina’s very first scene highlights how she uses her brains to get out of such trouble. She even has poor Henry stubbling for words.
But not Jack. Here, academic wordsmith meets pot-luck wordsmith. Sure, she says a lot of things that Jack does not understand, but what he does understand is how to bargain, and here, she has met her match.
The actor does a fabulous job delivering all of her lines, and her behaviour when science fails Carina is just what you’d expect.
Played by Javier Bardem, Salazar is the antagonist of the film. He wants revenge on Jack for cursing him many moons ago. Prior to that? He was a pirate killer. So it is no wonder Barbossa felt the need to make a bargain.
Bardem, like the others, takes his role seriously. I can imagine many 12 year olds hiding behind a cushion as his ghostly presence enters the film.
Unfortunately, not all characters returned, like the guy with the parrot… or Mackenzie Crooks who played the one-eyed pirate, but we do see the return of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Captain Barbossa (George Rush) and Gibbs (Kevin McNally). Then there are the two comedical characters: Mullroy and Murtogg.
These characters still have great acting skills. Cannot fault them one bit.
We see a return of William Turner, but it is his son that Jack now goes on adventures with. Jack has lost his touch in his old age and so, out of desperation, gives away his magic compass. This has a serious consequence… an enemy returns to take his revenge, and you guessed it, the enemy is Salazar.
But that’s not all, we see a return of Hector Barbossa too, who once again is somehow chorused into helping Jack.
By now, the audience of this franchise would not only be familiar with the characters, the undead monkey, and the Black Pearl. They’d also know about Jack’s compass that does not point north. Not much is explained about this compass in the past films, but it is key to this film.
It can be assumed that this compass has magical abilities, as the audience would be aware that it points to whatever the user wants most. However, Jack has lost everything except for this compass… until he loses that too, and it causes a pandora effect. Now the dead are after him, and only the trident of Poseidon can save him. Meanwhile, Henry is looking for Jack to track down the trident so he can save his father. Carina is also looking for the trident as she feels that this is what her father wanted.
On the surface, the plot seems simple. Three characters looking for a trident—there is no rule to say only one can use it, at least it isn’t mentioned, so they’re not squabling over that. The deeper parts of the plot comes from the returning characters pasts.
Jack and Barbossa. After all, these ghosts want Jack for a reason. And Barbossa, well he has his own interest in Carina.
Overall, the film has the same enchantment as the first three did. The main storyline, the character interaction and how the characters intertwined with each other fit—except perhaps how Turner became part of the Royal Navy as the son of two pirates—and the deeper stories gel so well that I actually want another story, just about Hector Barbossa.
The story is engaging from start to finish. Not a moment to be dull, and of course, Barbossa and Jack have their usual head to head, which is always a cannot miss!
Cinematography, CGI and Directing
The scenes were shot brilliantly. The one that sent prickles down my spine was really well done, and the music paired to the scenes was just absolutely marvellous. Each scene was framed and lit well, and really added to the franchise theme as well as standing out on its own merit.
I also loved the how the ghost ship was portrayed, as if the ship had its own form and soul taken from it along with its captain. I liked the way it becomes its own kind of Kraken—it doesn’t but it is the best way of me explaining it.
Then there is the scene with the Pearl trapped in a bottle until Hector comes along and does something Jack could have done 5 years ago if he only knew how.
Brilliant Film. If you saw the fourth film and are in doubt, don’t worry. This one takes us back to the series that we love! The acting is spectacular, the story is engaging and the detail of the shots will just leave you in awe!
Have you not watched these films! Go on Disney+ right now and binge-watch the films! Go! You won’t regret it!
This film review was a guest post by Shannon. If you would like a review of any of the other films in more detail, just leave a comment below and Sophie will get in touch. Do have a look at my own blog, and don’t forget to follow Sophie and I.