Franchises exist because they have proven to be cash cows for the film studios; the formula works so they can bank on the movie performing well at the box office.
While some movies raise the bar, others merely ensure that they don't stray from a winning template.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge is of the latter ilk. Don’t get me wrong, fans will be thrilled when they get a glimpse of the 3G images jumping out the big screen. The CGI animation is mesmerising. The narrative, sadly, is twee and safe.
Viewers are whisked off on a buccaneer's adventure that mirrors the turbulence of sea, where much of the story happens.
As much as the rum is free-flowing for our favourite anti-hero, so is the action.
The opening scene sets the tone. A spirited little boy named Henry Turner (Thwaites) manages to track down his father, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom reprises his role for a few scenes), who has been roaming the seas after being cursed.
Henry’s determination to break the curse sees him consume every piece of information leading to the location of the Trident of Poseidon, which some believe to be folklore.
The story starts with Henry crossing paths with the ghost of Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem), who is seeking revenge on the person who doomed his Spanish soldiers and him to a hellish skeletal existence: Jack Sparrow. After escaping from Devil’s Triangle, he goes on a killing spree, leaving only one man alive to pass on a message because “dead men tell no tales”.
The other new face is Scodelario as Carina Smyth, an astronomer who turns mutinous whenever she comes into contact with her ignorant male peers. She’s also crucial to Henry fulfilling his childhood goal.
Amid the threat of Salazar, there are other story arcs involving Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), the one-legged pirate captain, the sea witch Shansa and gung-ho soldiers from the British Royal Navy led by Scarfield.
And so begins a swashbuckling adventure on the high seas and the hidden island.
The masterful use of dark hues creates the perfect atmosphere, lending itself beautifully to the breeding danger.
While Salazar is pegged as this deadly and unrelenting ghost, his hair appears to be doing the fandango in every scene. The special effects team have done a commendable job in capturing his movements while not diluting his menacing edge.
Depp does what he does best: steal the show with his rum-guzzling, hilarious lines and his devil-may-care attitude.
Thwaites and Scodelario bring a youthful energy, although she is a little heavy-handed conveying her feistiness.
Ronning and Sandberg leave their directorial mark in Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge. All our favourite characters, even the cute pirate monkey, are cleverly exploited to make this an entertaining romp.