Saturday, May 21, 2011
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides review
As far as blockbuster films are concerned, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is about as average as it gets. It's never particularly thrilling or engaging, a bunch of new characters are introduced that you never really care about, Captain Jack Sparrow is now the center of attention and his antics get tiresome after the first hour or so. There aren't any strong supporting characters to balance out his sideshow act and so what we have, really, is a film where Johnny Depp acts goofy for two hours and twenty minutes.
So a shitload of people are after the Fountain of Youth: Blackbeard (played by Ian McShane), the English, and the Spaniards. Blackbeard had his prophecy told to him, that he will be stabbed to death by a one-legged man (or something like that), Blackbeard thinks that finding the Fountain of Youth will prevent that prophecy from coming true. Jack Sparrow winds up being on Blackbeard's ship thanks to being drugged by Blackbeard's daughter, and Captain Jack's former lover Angelica (played by Penelope Cruz). Angelica mainly exists so that Jack Sparrow can have someone to flirt with while this whole "plot" thing is going on. Geoffrey Rush is back as Captain Hector Barbossa who has joined the English Navy as they embark on an expedition to the Fountain of Youth. Throughout the course of all this, you find out that in order for Fountain of Youth to work you need a couple of chalices and a mermaid's tear. This gives us an opportunity to see some hot naked mermaids who apparently double as vampires. Their method of seduction is to take you to the bottom of the ocean, have rough sex with you, and then they eat you. That's my version of it anyway.
The plot is fairly ridiculous and unfortunately the action in the movie does not do enough to make you forget about it. Even though there are some wonderfully staged set pieces and the first twenty minutes or so are pretty fun, it's all very, very standard with really nothing too big at stake. Seriously, this film contains some of the most boringly shot swordfighting scenes that I've seen in recent memory. The confrontation between Blackbeard's men and Barbossa's immediately comes to mind. You also have this little love story between a clergyman and a mermaid that... you know what, it's best just to leave it alone. It's just not very engaging or interesting.
It's not a terrible movie, it's not the worst film ever made. I've read a few reviews that attempt to label this film as such and it's complete hyperbole. The problem with this film is that unlike Pirates 2 or 3 (which are enormously flawed films themselves), it does not have that "epic" feel. The saving grace of the previous Pirates sequels were that they at least tried to top the previous film with more groundbreaking special effects. Nothing in this film, special effects-wise, will blow your mind and the actions scenes are just so mediocre.
I said before that Johnny Depp's act gets tiring after the first hour or so, but I must say, his performance is the only thing that keeps the film from being completely boring. Penelope Cruz, a talented actress, is nothing more than eyecandy. Ian McShane, a brilliant and powerful actor, is so mishandled as Blackbeard. He could have been an awesome villain, but he's never particularly threatening. When you compare him to what Jack Sparrow's done in previous Pirates films, he doesn't really seem all that terrible. At least, not as terrible as other corrupt pirates portrayed in the other films.
There are a few charming moments and the movie does start off well enough, but once they get to the Fountain of Youth is when it stops being fun. They've been talking about making a Pirates 5 and a Pirates 6 in the future but if Pirates 4 is any indication, they may want to quit while they're already behind.