Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Movie Review


I remember when the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out, I saw it in theaters twice. I've never seen a movie more often then that on a big screen, and have only done so with a handful of others. I loved that movie, as did everyone else. It was surprisingly fresh and original, with a fun storyline and good action. Unfortunately, as with many franchises, it did very well in the box office and was never able to evolve. Each sequel has been more formulaic than the last, and my disappointment grows. On Stranger Tides is no different.

Think about the first movie. What were some of the most enjoyable scenes? The fencing scene between Will and Jack in the rafters of the blacksmith's? Jack's daring escapes? Battles at sea? Attractive young women with barely concealed breasts? Well, if those were your favorite parts of The Black Pearl, save yourself some money and just watch that one again. On Stranger Tides does every single one of those things, only not as well. It is like the executive producers sat down to watch The Black Pearl and made a list of their favorite things, and then made sure all of them made it into this movie.

In addition to repeating a lot of old favorites until they are cliche and annoying, so many new elements were added in this movie that there was not enough time to explain them all. Barbossa is back, of course. He, Gibbs and Keith Richards are the only characters who have appeared in the previous movies, apart from Jack. Added into the mix are Angelica (Penelope Cruz), the only woman Jack has ever had "stirrings" for. "Stirrings", incidentally, are slightly less powerful than "feelings". Also Blackbeard (Ian McShane), the only real pirate in this series. Filling the Will and Elizabeth rolls are Philip and Syrena, a Christian and a mermaid, respectively.

Since two of the three main characters of the previous movies were missing, OST seemed to try to reboot the series completely, as well as having a complicated story line. The result is a long, garbled mess. Too many characters and ideas are introduced, and not enough time spent on any of them. There are mermaids and zombies and Blackbeard and so many other things you almost forget that the main object is the freaking Fountain of Youth! I just did, honestly, right now, and I saw the movie about ten hours ago.

I did like Blackbeard, but that's because I love reading about real pirates. I was pretty excited to hear that he was in this one, and I was pretty pleased. A number of his legendary traits were included - lighting his beard on fire to scare his enemies, his decapitated body swimming around his ship - but I'm not sure that the added supernatural powers were needed. Maybe the writers thought that a telekinetic Blackbeard would be less frightening than the real one. The one in the movie didn't shoot people in the kneecaps for fun, so I guess that was their reasoning.

It was an entertaining two hours, but I'm not really sure what it was about. Not really worth paying for, and certainly not worth watching in 3D, which I didn't. It can't have been that spectacular. I've rather lost faith in this franchise, and I think I will skip any other sequels. I'll stick with the original and be happy.

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