Six years after the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the buccaneers are back to face Salazar’s Revenge. The title is being used everywhere in the world but in the United States of America, which will stick with the original title, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Salazar’s Revenge has been directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg and stars Johnny Depp as the rapscallion pirate Jack Sparrow, Javier Bardem as the titular villain, Brandon Thwaite as William Turner’s son Henry, and Geoffrey Rush as Sparrow’s sparring partner Hector Barbossa.
The plot: the deformed ghost of Armando Salazar (Bardem) is determined to wipe out every pirate in sight. Sparrow is on the trail of the Trident of Poseidon, which, naturally, grants its handler ultimate power over the seas. Bardem’s make-up took three hours – he said in an interview that it was like slapping “cold chicken breasts” onto his face every day.
The last edition, On Stranger Tides (2011), dropped the couple William Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). They return in the May 26 release, which is a clear sign that Salzar’s Revenge is a reboot rather than a journey into unchartered waters like the previous production.
The Turner-Swann spawn, Henry (played by Brenton Thwaites), makes his appearance in the fifth edition. Henry wants to liberate his father from the cursed ship The Flying Dutchman, just like William Turner wanted to free his father Bootstrap Bill.
Some of the regulars are back, such as Kevin McNally as Gibbs, Sparrow’s loyal First Mate. Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani plays sea witch Shansa, and Paul McCartney has been added to the crew. The former Beatle follows in the footsteps of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, on whom Deep based some of his body language, and who appeared as Sparrow’s father Edward Teague in two of the four films.
Kaya Scodelario, the actress from the TV show Skins, plays astronomer Carina Smyth, and is the only major female character in the cast. In another key change, Geoff Zanelli has replaced Hans Zimmer as the composer. “I’m building a distinctive sound for this film that springboards off of many years of collaborating in the Pirates world,” explained Zanelli, who worked with Zimmer on the previous four films.
Stunning visual effects have been one of the franchise’s consistent selling points, and have helped tide over complaints over overplotting. The movie harks back to the spirit of the first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), according to the filmmakers. “It was important to go back to the same dynamic that the first film had where Jack is not the main character,” Ronning explained in an interview.
The movie has been shot extensively in Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, including locations at Helensvale, Moreton Bay, Whitsunday Island and Lennox Headland Reserve. A sixth and possibly final feature is in the works.
A franchise about pirates has itself been subjected to an act of piracy. Hackers have laid their hands on Salzar’s Revenge, and are threatening the producer, Disney Studios, that they will release the film online before the May 26 release if their demands are not met. Parley, as Jack Sparrow would have said?