Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Reviews
I dont quite know what to say here. It was not as convoluted plot wise as the second two but did not have the charm of the first.
This film takes elements from actual real history this time and blends them with classic fantasy. The real bits involve the legendary English pirate Edward Teach and his flagship Queen Anne's Revenge and the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. Now this plot has relaxed a bit, its not a complicated mess of sub plots and tonnes of characters. 'Sparrow' is off to sea once again to find the fountain of youth, alongside him is 'Barbossa' who is now a privateer for the British Navy. At the same time 'Blackbeard' is also after the fountain along with the dastardly Spanish and their religious thoughts. Each party has their own reasons naturally which does as usual involve some double crossing and twists.
I must admit to liking the intergration of actual history into the plot this time. The franchise has slowly used various common old fables and sea myths to its advantage which has worked well, this time the inclusion of some real historic figures gives the whole thing a bit more class, credibility and a small sense of realism. Of course old Blackbeard has been given a slightly spruced up look with black leather top to bottom by the looks of it, aiming for the cool factor a bit too much methinks.
Gotta say I didn't really like the whole supernatural power thing Blackbeard had over his ship with the magic cutlass. That seemed pointless if you ask me, if he can control the ship like that then why use a crew?. His galleon has also been given a very fantasised appearance which makes it look like a unique ghost ride attraction in a fairground. Oh and his ship breaths fire out the front? really? did we need that silliness? they'd probably burn their own ship down with it.
Next to that we see mermaids which is about time really if you think about it. The fact they are actually fearsome creatures that kill innocent sailors was a nice touch if rather obvious. But that plot detail causes confusion with the main mermaid character who we are meant to feel for, but that's hard knowing her kind are merciless killers of the deep, plus the 'Splash' finale for her was too much cinematic deja vu.
I think the film in general is let down by totally unrealistic action sequences that just feel implausible when they are suppose to be reasonably plausible. The escape set piece at the start is a good example, its overly long and over the top in every sense. Sparrow is leaping around like an acrobat (clearly a stunt double) and doing things that just wouldn't work, the worst bit is seeing all the English soldiers prat falling about everywhere trying to catch him, its cringing. We all know the franchise is suppose to be fun fantasy but apart from the actual supernatural stuff you do expect a degree of slight realism with some stunts. If it becomes too outrageous then it ceases to be fun and simply becomes a joke, what's worse is the fact its not meant to be that kind of joke.
The film is full of these daft action sequences really, it looks bad because we all know Sparrow isn't that kind of character, we had 'Turner' in the trilogy for that. So now seeing the campy Sparrow mincing about doing these big hero stunts looks stupid as its actually taken semi seriously. As I said earlier the plot does also go down the route of old Indy with the chalices thing and especially the finale for Blackbeard which is pretty much a rip off from 'Raiders' and 'The Last Crusade'.
Altogether the adventure feels a bit flat to me, nothing much happens that we haven't seen before or made me go wow!. Most of the characters are running low on juice now accept for Barbossa who is always brilliantly played by Rush. Cruz was a bad casting choice and did nothing whilst McShane wasn't all that intimidating as Blackbeard if you ask me. Kudos to Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey for being gorgeously cute as the mermaid and Richard Griffiths in a small role as King George II at the start.
On the whole very very average in my opinion, hyper stunt laden action sequences can't divert from the fact the film is actually kinda dull. It all looks terrific and very atmospheric in that Monkey Island kinda way but you can tell the difference in direction with the film, it does stand out. I just feel they have now used up most avenues of pirate legend both real and fantasy, I can't see what they can do in the fifth film without it being a complete rehash, especially with this struggling for a fresh look. Who's left to utilize? 'Long John Silver'? 'Sinbad'? 'YellowBeard'? (lol!) what other old creatures and myths can they possibly crowbar in?? Atlantis?.
The fact they even squeezed in the minute unrelated hobby of ships in a bottle shows how far they were stretched to incorporate anything remotely olde worlde and piratey into the film. I think this film just about manages to be semi acceptable but that's now it, no more can or should be done. I think Sparrow has had his moment in the spotlight, time to retire in the sun matey.
Capt'n Jack Sparrow, while a whimsical force, often echoes the films themselves - not really knowing why he does what he does, and seemingly clueless about it all anyway... I'm wondering, has there ever been a less convincing hero? Here he is shown making fun of the barristry (an absurd bit that could have used a bit more humor), then a rather funny escape that goes horribly wrong (only to escape once again in a nice bit of coach hopping), only to once again be captured by the King's guard. Are we asleep yet? Of course this gives the opportunity to reunite Depp with Geoffrey Rush (wouldn't it have been better to have the saccharine 70's song Reunited playing in the background?).
For a brief moment it was nice to see the two gnashing teeth at each other - but the moment quickly passed, and once again Capt'n Jack escapes from the government's grasp. The film then decides to attempt (emphasis on "attempt", not succeed) to instill new life into the series by introducing Penelope Cruz, who we first see in a hilariously (not) disguised as Capt'n Jack himself - oh the humor of it all!! Seems the pair were an item once upon a time (which we learn over yet another gratuitous sword fight) - though we're never sure who jilted who (or if it even matters). Somehow, the gendarmes find the pirate hide out and... ho hum... try to capture our hero. Of course he escapes once again, only to find himself allegedly betrayed by Cruz, since he ends up on the ship of the notorious pirate Blackbeard (who even makes Sparrow quiver in his designer boots). I love Ian McShane, and he is of course a force of nature as Blackbeard - but the film then falls into an absurd story concerning finding the fountain of youth. Funny thing, it's not the fountain of youth itself that is absurd, but moreover how the film insists that the three main parties involved, McShane, Cruz, and Depp, all need each other to accomplish their goal.
There is an overly long scene involving mermaids - some totally out of sequence scenes that either make little sense, or seem shoehorned into the plot to attempt (here's that word again) some sort of gravitas. In all, it doesn't work and seems badly stitched together - which indicates some terrible direction.
Throughout this series I consistently felt that the creators didn't really know what to do with the Jack Sparrow that Depp created. He's a lazy slacker who gets by with his wits (or luck since it often seems that his plans are faulty). As the series progressed, Sparrow often became almost a spectator to his own films - he gets thrown into absurd situation after absurd situation and then watches with detached bemusement while things fall into place and he succeeds; at least until the next time he's captured or whatever. This rinse and repeat method has become tiring and shows a lack of creative spark and imagination and why this franchise should be allowed to come to rest in a Sargasso Sea, never to be seen or heard from again.
This time around, Captain Jack Sparrow is on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth...no real specfic reason is given why...unless you count the fact that someone is apparently masquerading as Jack...which leads him to meet up with an old flame named Angelica who is also apparently the daughter of Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, the most feared and infamous pirate of all.
Besides the quest for the Fountain, there's also some stuff thrown in about privateering (Barbossa decided to continue piracy, but in it's legal form), and Spain's policies concerning the Fountain as well. Oh yeah, and zombies and mermaids. They don't really do much with the zombie aspect, but there are some cool scenes with the mermaids, although it bugs me that they sort of portray them as kinda being a bit like vampires for some odd reason. Also, in order to successfully drink from the Fountain, there's a convoluted process, which seems unnecessary, but hey, this is at least easier to follow than the previous film.
The film is, as I mentioned a tad smaller in scale, but still not totally simple or straightforward. It's also the shortest entry, but only by like 5 minutes, so that's not saying much. It is a servicable and enjoyable movie, but it's really not all that special. I think they should have waited even longer before making another Pirates film, given how overblown things became in the wake of the success of the prior films.
Rob Marshall takes over for Gore Verbinski, and he does okay. He's not known for doing this kind of thing, so he was an interesting pick. He's not bad, but I think they should have found someone with a bit more action oriented experience, as a lot of this just feels like Verbinski-lite. The casting is good. Ian McShane is the only choice for Blackbeard, but given the limitation of things (rating, Disney, etc) he's not as menacing or hardcore as he could have been. So yeah, he's a tad tamer, but he's still good. Depp, McNally and Rush are the only significant returning players, and they give adequate performances. Penelope Cruz is okay, and she has a couple of really good moments, but overall she's nothing special. Richards returns for a nice cameo, and, speaking of those, hi there totally random appearance from a certain Dame whose last name rhymes with bench.
All in all, an okay but unremarkable film. It'll give you a pirate fix if that's what you need, but it seems like they rushed into it just to cash in on the success of the franchise.
Director: Rob Marshall
Summary: Cunningly clumsy Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) meets his match when mysterious beauty Angelica (PenÃ (C)lope Cruz) forces the pirate to join her in search of the Fountain of Youth in the fourth installment of the humorous and action-packed "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise. Sparrow tries to determine whether Angelica is friend or foe while the riotous adventure sets him aboard a vessel belonging to the fearsome pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane).
My Thoughts: "I had really enjoyed the first two films of this series, but I guess the light of interest is slowly burning out for me. Not having Orlando or Keira in the movie made it feel like something was missing. Their presence in these films was surely missed. It seems like they just threw a story together just to make another film. Although it is an entertaining film and I did enjoy some of the new character's, I just couldn't bring myself to love it."
I feel they have just milked pirates as much as they can just to make money and theresult is just a movie thats amusing in places but similar to the previous three. and its only Captian Jack and Barbossa as the original characters.
Its an okay movie but lets hope they dont make any more!
I think a fresh start was exactly what the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise needed, and as a result, this is the best entry in the series since the first movie.
While the second and third movies were overly-long and tedious, On Stranger Tides goes for fun and entertainment over the increasingly seriously direction the last couple of movies followed. Jack Sparrow's search for the Fountain of Youth is still a little too long (there's really no reason for these movies to be over two hours in length), and there was DEFINITELY no need for another peripheral love story now that Bloom and Knightley's storyline was finally (and mercifully) ended in At World's End.
The characters of Philip and Syrena are blatantly forced into the story just so there would be another couple, and the time and attention focused on those two definitely hurts the overall pacing of the movie. They're are by far my biggest complaint about On Stranger Tides.
I like the other new additions to the cast, though. The new villain, Blackbeard is appropriately menacing and Penelope Cruz fits the PotC world like a particularly sexy hand in a glove.
I'm glad and slightly surprised to be able to say that the forth entry in this franchise is a good one, and it accomplishes that by going back to what made the first one so likable; it gives us a fun adventure that's not weighed down by attempts to be dark and serious.
However, for all of Depp's slapstick and Rob Marshall's earnest endeavour, you begin to long for octopi-threads of ex-director gore Verbinski's crazed surrealism. Zombies and stroppy Spaniards are among the many so-whats that lurch through the lifeless stuffing of On Stranger Tides.
Geoffrey Rush once again shines as Jack's best rival Barbossa, as his quiet intentions resemble that of Sparrow in earlier films. Penelope Cruz adds a layer of sexuality that we definitely did not have with the other Pirates of the Caribbeans - it's just a shame she didn't have much time with Sparrow.