Sunday, May 22, 2011


"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011)

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" is what you'd expect from a fourth installment of the swashbuckling franchise: unnecessary overindulgence. It's more of the same with funny accents and high seas exploration. Gone, however, are the convoluted and confusing storylines and twists of the first three "Pirates." Its one saving grace is the more streamlined nature of the journey, the goal being to find the Fountain of Youth. In searching for such a relic, it's as if the movie itself is crying out to audiences in hopes this cash cow enterprise can stay eternally youthful. But we cannot ignore the simple truth. The movie without a doubt was motivated as a summer blockbuster cash-grab. In that sense alone the production of this fourthquel, now helmed by director of Rob Marshall, never even should've set sail.

The movie being just fine as opposed to flat-out bad is almost worse. You can tell everyone is simply cashing in as opposed to putting in some effort to make something worthwhile because they know, no matter what they make and if it has "Pirates of the Caribbean" slapped on it, people are going to see it. Hence the box office returns we've already seen. There's no vivacity or energy here like there were in past sequels. At least those bloated and jumbled messes had that going for them; there certainly wasn't a lack of trying.

The dead weight of Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom with their non-pirate characters have been removed leaving only Johnny Depp's still plucky Captain Jack Sparrow and the newly introduced Penélope Cruz as the sensual Angelica to keep things afloat. Luckily their personalities are big enough to manifest into their own supporting characters. Depp is still intermittently humorous, but he lacks the zaniness I remember. His jokes and wisecracks feel tired, and even when Keith Richards shows up as he did before in a brief cameo as Sparrow's dad, whatever coolness there was before just isn't anymore. Cruz is a welcome addition, however, as she brings her same fiery flair which she does to most of her roles. She's essentially a spiritual successor to the role Knightley previously filled.

Jack Sparrow and Angelica are a fair match for each other, and they team up for the expedition to the Fountain of Youth sometimes on the same side, sometimes not. Geoffrey Rush looking old and nasty--almost distractingly so--returns as Captain Barbossa sent by King George to find the fountain. Meanwhile, Blackbeard (Ian McShane) is also after the fountain commandeering a ship upon which Sparrow and Angelica both travel. Ian McShane and Geoffrey Rush are two veteran actors, durable and reliable, and they both play up the pirate charades and make it work.

For having the subtitle of "On Stranger Tides," not much about their adventure is very strange. It's actually the least strange, supernatural and fantastical of the series. Sure, Blackbeard's ship has zombies--and zombies are so in right now--but the skeletons were actually a lot better. I'm surprised to be saying this, but I wish there were more CGI creations like the endless waterfall of "At World's End" or the crazy tentacles of "Dead Man's Chest." It's not all bad, though. There are man-eating mermaids that tantalize with seduction and then attack with ferocious gnashing teeth and hisses. The one mermaid we officially meet is named Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), and a weird romance forms between her and an actor who looks a little too much like a younger version of Orlando Bloom. The romance is of zero consequence to the rest of the story.

Beyond the mermaids, however, everything else is rather humdrum. Lots of talking, but nothing getting said, and lots of clashing swords but of no real end result. The whole affair has a been there, done that feel to it that's impossible to deny. Oh, and don't forget to stay until after the credits and then give yourself a big face palm when things are inevitably set up for a fifth entry.

My review of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

1 comment:

  1. Pirates of Caribbean is one of its kind movies. I really like the story of the movie. Johnny Depp is excellent in his role. You forget other characters when you look at him. I really like the picturisation and dialogues of the movie. This is a must watch movie.