Kaya Scodelario

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge drew no attention from me, and offered very little to try and ‘woo’ me into watching it. Majority of my interest of this franchise was soon lost after the second instalment of Dead Man’s Chest. I find the Pirate of the Caribbean franchise entering realms of similarity with Fast and the Furious with the rinse and repeat formula.

Salazar’s Revenge is taking this rinse and repeat formula and caking it on by the pounds. I’ve become disenchanted with the figure of Captain Jack Sparrow, as Johnny Depp seems to be offering new to the character, but rather a further drunken stupor.

In the presence of rinse and repeat formula, Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg have decided to take the Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner roles and replace them with Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites. However, Ronning and Sandberg had a role reversal, with Scodelario’s Carina Smyth as a smart young woman, who shows a deft hand at keeping out of trouble. Whereas Brenton Thwaites’ Henry Turner just offers the run-of-the-mill love story, replicated from the first instalment.

Majority of the performances throughout the 130(ish) runtime, are very mundane and uninteresting. Aside from Scodelario’s performance as Carina, I found myself bored with the characters as they fall into very two-dimensional characters and offer nothing new.

I imagine this is potentially down to the world building not being that immersive either. If anything Salazar’s Revenge offered a truly ridiculous world where pirates once ruled the seas. The film had lost me at the point where Salazar (Javier Bardem) releases undead sharks. I mean, come on.

Seriously.

Salazar in his own right was an intriguing character, but there was nothing built around him as Ronning and Sandberg layered the film with exposition and the cast pointing out the plot to one another over and over and over. His revenge of Captain Jack Sparrow could have been played out brilliantly, rather than becoming the lacklustre affair it is.

As for Salazar’s curse, there wasn’t that much to be invested in as majority of the screen time is faced with Jack Sparrow and his quest for the Trident of Poseidon to break his run of bad luck. And it seems as though the curse isn’t that original either with the undead wreaking havoc once more.

I think therein lies my issue with Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge as it becomes very lacklustre. I often found myself bored throughout the plus 2-hour runtime and very bored with the over-egged performance of Jack Sparrow. The plot doesn’t do a great deal of justice to the massive runtime, and doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t already been witnessed in the previous instalments.

I tried to go into Salazar’s Revenge with an open mind, but left still disappointed as I mentioned it did little to peak my interest in the first place. Aside from Scodelario’s performance, there was little else to enjoy about this film. I find the investment in this film just was not there for me. Everything that could’ve potentially immersed me, did not, from the characters to the CGI. It’s fair to say Salazar’s Revenge just did not do it for me.

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The Maze Runner (2014)

There seems to have been an influx of teen dramas that were novels after the massive success of The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner falls into this category. Admittedly, after watching this film, I did feel compelled to watch both The Hunger Games. There is something about this area of film that is rather enjoyable.

The Maze Runner opens with a boy in a cage (Dylan O’Brien) waking up with water in his lungs and heading skyward. He remembers nothing and that is made clear to him as soon as the cage opens and reveals the Glade. The Glade being home to a number of young adult men of varying ages with Alby (Aml Ameen) being the leader of the Gladers and Runners (The two factions that thrive in the Glade).

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The boys of varying ages await the return of the runners.

Alby runs through the usual order of business that nobody harms another, everyone does their part and that nobody enters the maze. The unknown boy tries to enter the maze and is saved by Gally (Will Poulter) as the maze begins to shut for the night. Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) then explains that nobody survives a night in the maze, hence their reluctance to let him in, and also the fact that the maze changes every night and the attacks of the grievers. Newt becomes the greenie (the new guy slang) source of information and states that Minho (Ki Hong Lee) is the leader of the runners (who run and map the maze looking for a way out). He then has a fire side fight against Gally which results in him gaining his name back, which is Thomas.

As I hadn’t read the book previous to this, the film did keep me on the edge of my seat with what happened in the events following Thomas’ name retrieval. The events that happen are all pretty easy to work out and obvious, as Thomas spends a night in the maze in an attempt to save Alby, sees and kills a griever and then becomes a runner. Anything after this point would be considered a spoiler. The big surprise would be for a girl (Kaya Scodelario) named Teresa to show up with the announcement that she’s the last one ever. Although she is supposed to integral to the storyline, I didn’t care much for the character of Teresa as she mostly featured in the background whilst Alby, Thomas, Gally and Chuck are more prominent in the grand order of things.

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If I had an issue with this film, it’d have to be the fact that nothing is clear. You only discover the purpose of the group being in the maze at the end, but even that remains unclear. However, the purpose of them being attacked by the Grievers remains cloudy. Luckily, my friend had read the books and explained the unanswered questions for me, which seems as though the story is explained in the sequel.  Which is intriguing due to the fact that the guys that will appear in the sequel the trails have only just begun for them.

That being said, the film is still rather enjoyable. Standing at an hour and forty, it feels like it’s a lot longer than it should be, however, this isn’t a bad thing due to the enjoyment factor that is involved.  The film is not groundbreaking in any way for the apocalyptic teen drama that was paved by The Hunger Games and neither is the acting. The best performances coming from Thomas, Newt and Chuck (for the comedic value he possesses). However, that being said, I am looking forward to the sequel, but it might be an idea to read the books incase they leave more questions to be unanswered in The Scorching Trails. 

One thing that is worth mentioning is the character of Gally led by Will Poulter is also a decent performance, considering his previous record showcased him in comedies, whereas as he plays the opposer to Thomas’ ideas and leads the brigade to get him punished when he enters the maze.

3/5