Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is being pursued by a zombie ship led by Captain Salazar, a famed Spanish pirate hunter whom Sparrow sent to the Devil's Triangle fifteen years ago. The only thing that can save Sparrow and the few remaining pirates left is the Trident of Poseidon - a mysterious artifact that grants its wielder command over the seas and is being tracked by Henry Turner (Brendon Thwaites) and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scudelerio).
Five entries in, Pirates of the Caribbean - and its star, Johnny Depp - is beginning to show the signs of wear-and-tear, and while it's had a good run, that run is now finished and Salazar's Revenge is its swansong. So the question is, does the final installment tie everything off or does it leave us hankering for more?
There isn't a huge amount it can do with the story, as the previous four films are essentially retreading the same steps as before with different dressing over the top and making it more convoluted than the previous entry. This time around, Sparrow and the son of Orlando Bloom's Will Turner are hunting the Trident of Poseidon - which grants its owner command over the sea and breaks all curses therein - which is exactly why Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his band of zombie pirates. Aiding Sparrow and Turner's son is Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) and her knowledge of science and astronomy.
Putting aside the needlessly complicated plot, what the film excels at is spectacle and special effects. Salazar's makeup and CGI is quite inventive and Bardem breathes life into what could have been a lifeless role. He's spitting blood and growling out his lines with aplomb, and makes for an excellent villain - something the Pirates franchise has always done well. Depp, meanwhile, wears the pirate garb like a second skin. However, this time out, his character is only deployed strategically and only when it's absolutely necessary. Instead, the brunt of the plot development and story progression is given to Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites, who really don't have the acting chops to make it convincing.
Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg have a firm grasp on the CGI and spectacle, and the cinematography is sharp and beautiful in places. For the most part, they move the script along at pace and try to keep the overweight plot on its toes, but very often, it's a case of trying to fight against it rather than using it to its advantage. The franchise has picked up so much mythology and clutter that there's nothing terribly clean about the script. There's far too many references to previous entries that can leave those who haven't kept up meticulously with the franchise in the dark.
In spite of all this, it's a fine blockbuster that'll do well with audiences and closes out the franchise in the best way possible. That said, if there's a reboot of this within the next five to ten years, take one star off this review.