Opinion: Why Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is a shipwreck of giant proportions

Jack Sparrow finds himself at the heart of the problems of this washed up franchise

Treasure is at the heart of most pirates, and the film industry. 

Given Disney’s track record of solid films, franchises and universes, you would think they’d know when to call it quits of weak links. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is perhaps the weakest link of all, so it’s puzzling why this fifth installment was even brought into production.

The franchise has racked up US$4 billion, so that explains it. Treasure has plagued this entire picture with complacency that had led to a draggy and uninspired voyage.

Simple plot with a dozen side-quests

Salazar's Revenge has a video-gamey story. You think about games like Assassin’s Creed, they’ve actually got pretty simple storylines, but the hours are pushed up with numerous distracting side-quests that take away the emotional heft. Remove these side-quests and you may have something closer to the narrative precision of Uncharted.

Its “main campaign” introduces another evil captain that Jack Sparrow has pissed off in the past – Captain Salazar, who was hell-bent on eradicating all pirates to purify the seas. That’s until a young Jack (who has a very small mouth) tricked him into sailing into the Devil’s Triangle, where he and his crew have morphed into (even more) pirate ghosts that look a lot like CGI models hacked away with a digital eraser. Several limbs are missing, parts of faces and elbows, but the parts of these ghosts still move as if attached to an invisible body. A very convenient link to Jack’s magical compass allows Salazar and his crew to escape the triangle, with only one seemingly collective objective, to kill Jack Sparrow (and not to visit their friends and families, who may or may not have been worried sick). As he is an unstoppable ghost, the only way for Jack to stop him is by finding Poseidon’s trident, which can apparently break all curses at sea.

It’s shallow, but definitely a simple plot would’ve made for a focused picture, yet it’s burdened with the introduction of many new characters and stories. We meet Will’s son who wants to free his father from his curse, a young heroine who also happens to be looking for a lost father, and somehow Captain Barbosa is brought into the mix. These are all time consuming story arcs that really take away focus on the main plot, and each other. In the end, all plots lose out.