Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane
Directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago)
Appropriate for ages 10+
If you were like me, you were completely clueless as to what the second and third Pirates films were about. Aiming to get back to a movie with an actual plot, Disney decided to build a fourth installment, and this time with an actual story. Gone are Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley and in is Penelope Cruz as an old love interest of Captain Jack Sparrow’s (Depp) and Ian McShane as Captain Blackbeard, the supposed fiercest pirate to ever helm a ship. Here, Sparrow finds himself taken prisoner aboard Blackbeard’s ship as a race ensues to find the Fountain of Youth.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Disney decided to offer up a real story for the new film and I’m very pleased that Bloom and Knightly are gone as their characters had completely outstayed their welcome. What I’m not so pleased about is the weakness of the writing and the overall production. I think the Fountain of Youth is a worthy goal, even if the tale does cut a little too close to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That being said, the movie feels like all fluff and the plot points are lame at best. If they truly wanted to make this a fresh new Pirates film, they should have left Rush’s Barbossa out of it and allowed Sparrow to lead the path as the lone survivor from the first three films. With Rush still in it, the movie feels like just a retread of the rest of the movies and the story suffers because of it.
Depp and Cruz had some real potential if the writers knew what to do with them, but rather than a romantic swashbuckling movie, the romantic was killed off entirely making it a film about lousy criminals attempting to find a prize. If they had made a deeper connection between Depp and Cruz, the film could have had something to bring out an emotional attachment with its audience.
Also, while McShane is a great actor, his character never succeeds in making the audience scared of his villainous role. The problem is that he is just like the villainous pirates of the last three films. Maybe a little less impressive since he isn’t actually dead or grafted to an octopus. Between a less than frightening villain and a tired script that replaces original action sequences with what could have been shots taken from the first three films, this new Pirates comes off as a boring pic that will most likely be blasted by audiences as well as critics.
The only real scary villain in the film, and maybe the film’s only saving grace, is the group of mermaids. I loved how they made the mermaids a vampire-like creature and the battle with them is a fun one to watch.
If you do decide not to head my warning against seeing this film, at least don’t pay the extra bucks for the 3D version. Not only is it embarrassing that they use the 3D more as a gimmick than an enhancement, but the film is very dark most of the time, and the 3D glasses are tinted. Corey Hart might have enjoyed wearing his sunglasses at night, but I much prefer a brighter scenario when they are on my face. C-