Saturday, 21 May 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Summer season is here and that can only mean one thing - yet another unnecessary Pirates of the Caribbean film.

I hold the first POTC in high regard as it is a really fun swashbuckler. It’s okay that the inevitable sequel followed but by the third over-long, bloated and self satisfied sequel came I was more than done with this franchise. The theme in Hollywood at the minute is the reboot and POTC has jumped on this bandwagon and dropped the “gangs-all-here-itis” disease that it has suffered from since the first instalment, got rid of the deadwood and come back with its latest offering Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

PLOT: Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) knows where the Fountain of Youth is and gets tricked onto Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane) ship by ex-girlfriend Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and forced to lead them to the fountain. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) chases them down posing as a King’s Privateer hell bent on getting revenge on Blackbeard for the loss of his leg and for stealing the Black Pearl, a ship in which Barbossa has himself stolen from Jack Sparrow on several occasions. There is an unrequited love story even blander than the Will/Elizabeth saga. There are mermaids who don’t get enough screen time. The badass and underused Spanish show up to renounce Pagan Fountains. I like to think that the mermaid drowned the cleric. Proceedings have a sense of deja vu about them. I still despise Johnny Depp. END PLOT

POTC recycles plots to almost criminal levels of self-plagiarism - swap Aztec gold with Fountain of Youth, the Royal Navy with Spanish Armada and Will/Elizabeth with Philip/Serena and we have a new movie. As with the third instalment this film is far too long and filled with too many Johnny Depp scenes.

The entire London section should have been cut as it added nothing to the film. There were quicker ways to get the film started and any time spent in Tortuga is always welcome fun.

There is a fine line between homage and rehash and the battle in the blacksmiths was very much an unwelcome rehash.

Johnny Depp once again has far too much screen time as Jack Sparrow. In Curse of the Black Pearl he is not the lead character - he is supporting cast and the film works so much better with lesser amounts of Sparrows own drunken brand of comic relief.

Every time Johnny Depp rocks up with his latest quirky character I roll out my “if all his performances are quirky and original then none of them are” phrase. I don't get the hype over Johnny Depp.

Depp portrayed Jack as a drunken cockney idiot whereas Geoffrey Rush is clearly enjoying himself playing a full on pirate complete with appropriate levels of RRRRR. I love the character of Barbossa as much as I dislike Jack.

When you look at Barbossa and the things his character has achieved in the POTC saga it shows that we are following story of the wrong character:

The life and times of Hector Barbossa:
1) Successfully leads a mutiny on the Black Pearl
2) Locates a casket of Aztec gold and fritters it away on whores and booze in what one can assume is a right old laugh
3) On the discovery that he can no longer feel, taste or die he embarks on another epic journey to locate each piece of Aztec gold and return it to the casket from whence it came.
4) He died (we all have off days) but was also brought back to life again in time for the 3rd film. One can only assume the afterlife was a right old laugh complete with whorish ghouls and the devils ale.
5) I am sure he did something memorable in At Worlds End but I refuse to acknowledge the film exists
6) He loses the Black Pearl in an epic battle at sea with Blackbeard
7) Saws off his own leg with a sword.
8) Gets back onto dry land after the self amputation despite the life threatening amounts of blood loss
9) Wheedled his way into the Kings Court and is trusted enough by said King to captain a ship and find the Fountain of Youth
10) Is currently vacationing in Tortuga no doubt frittering away his time on whores and booze.

All of these events are explained by a single throwaway line in their respective films. Barbossa will no doubt turn up in Episode 5 with a new leg, shaved head and a Russian Bride who has a birth mark on her left foot shaped like a map to the Lost City of Atlantis and brush it off as an after effect of too much whoring and boozing. The real adventure in the POTC series takes place off screen.

POTC always picks up whenever Barbossa is on screen and when Barbossa and Jack had time together the film was noticeably lifted. The problem is these moments were often short and far apart.

Penelope Cruz was as feisty as ever. I absolutely loved the Spanish theme running through the film which even livened up the tired score. The Spanish Armada were underused and the revelation that they wanted to destroy the Fountain of Youth rather than use it for themselves seemed a bit strange as they failed to destroy the two chalices in their possession which were required to successfully avail of the fountains power. At least they weren’t as useless as the British Navy.

The fantasy creatures in this film were mermaids who were very creepy and not as shitty looking as the kraken.

Despite all the negatives I did enjoy this film and it annoys me to admit it as I really and truly wanted to hate it. There are some good set pieces and at times there were glimpses of genuine humour.

On Stranger Tides is leagues better than At Worlds End and is not a shabby way to start off the summer fluff season. It gets a 7/10. I still hate Johnny Depp.


  1. The sword fight scene in the back of the pub as you say is a complete re-hash of the scene in the blacksmiths of the first outing. I was bored throughout it.
    I liked the mermaids because they were originaland felt them the best thing in the whle movie. Because the rest has been done before. Isn't it funny to critisise a movie so much and yet stll enjoy it?!!
    I thought the London CGI was appalling!! In Burke and Hare Edinburgh looked even worse in CGI!!

  2. The entire London section was awful - the horse and cart chase looked very basic. I also don't like the fact that Sparrow is becoming more and more ninja like swinging from trees and chandeliers with ease.

    I am frustrated that I like it as there are so many flaws and at times it is just down right lazy but when it gets it right POTC has enough charm to carry it through.

  3. I also found the music cliqued. Sure it was fast paced to stir up audience enthusiasim but some how I was still bored. Just more of the same I'm afaid. Honestly if it wasn't for the mermaids I'd seriously riddicule this.
    Now I'm looking forward to the 'Irish' drama Ryan's Daughter this week!!! You'll love it because it was actually filmed in your native land and not CGI'ed!! God the last few weeks have been instructive with seeing such truely great films against the lackadasical money orientated nothingness I've seen in the last three weeks. I must admit though I thought POTC was beter than Source Code. That did bore me!!

  4. The closing credits had a nice Spanish theme going through it which is now on my i-pod. The main theme is tired but I liked the sections with the Spanish lilt

    I will keep an eye out for your Ryan's Daughter review although I can't pretend to have heard of it until now. David Lean is a director I know little about - I have watched his versions of Great Expectations and Oliver Twist when I was at school.

    I have signed up for email notifications for the Queens Film Theatre which shows older classics(my friend found a leaflet in HMV the other week) and there are some which caught my eye so hopefully during the summer after our holiday we will start going there. Looking forward to it!

    POTC was better than Source Code although it wouldn't take much. My 7/10 is generous but it's not based on any working or logical method of rating!

  5. You enjoyed it a lot more, I was just bored through most of it, this coming from a guy who found something to like in At Worlds End. Rush is wonderful but underused.

  6. I hated pretty much everything about At Worlds End so this film was a major step up for me!

    It will be interesting to see how long it takes for another sequel to be announced.

  7. Ah!...those two Dickens adaptations I believe are what launched Lean on to famedom. I must admit I don't really look at the behind the scenes stuff in the cinematic world. I've only done so recently through blogging and use of wikipedia.
    Ryan's Daughter I've heard of but know nothing about. I was never a Robert Mitchum fan so it will be interesting how it all goes. I'm looking forward to A Passage to India as I saw it many many years ago.
    Hopefully the local cinema will have something of interest to you. Casablanca is a good one to see on the big screen if it comes along. For me if its classed as a classic my butt is there!!

  8. They should have ended the franchise with AT WORLD'S END.

    By the way, I do get tired of the argument that DEAD MAN'S CHEST and AT WORLD'S END were overblown or bloated. Guess what? So were CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL and ON STRANGER'S TIDE. As far as I'm concerned, all four POTC movies were overblown, like many other summer movies and franchises. It's nothing new.

    But of the four bloated POTC movies, my favorite remains DEAD MAN'S CHEST.

  9. I liked Dead Man's Chest too as it had more Norrington and I have a bit of a crush on Jack Davenport!

    It may be a tired argument but it is also a true one ;-)

    Brent they are showing To Kill A Mocking Bird and Rebecca in June so hopefully we will get to see them. It's just bad timing as the summer holidays are approaching and funds are low!

  10. Juanita - forgot to say thanks for reading! K :-)

  11. Ooooooo, To Kill a Mocking lucky thing!! That is a classic that I very much want to see. I believe it is excellent. Gregory Peck, what isn't to like! Have you read the book? It is fantastic and hard to believe it is the only novel she wrote. Bitch!! Writes one novel and scoops a Pulitzer with it!!!
    I know the 'funds' feeling too!!

  12. I like Harper's style - write one brilliant book and don't try to top it!

    I read the book at school and have tried to read it once every couple of years since!

  13. Yes it is a cracker of a novel isn't it! I've always thought scout was a great character. Wish I had the talent to write a novel like it!I have put it on my list to of these days!!