Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Captain Jack Sparrow is back in the fourth film in the series. Usually when you get to number 4 in a series you've already upset the trilogy Gods as you embark on uncharted waters. You could end up with a Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, where you take home the biggest box office haul for a Star Trek film, up to that date. Or you could end up with Batman & Robin and totally fucking destroy a franchise, for at least a few years. So how does Pirates 4 stack up, is it a Fat Scotty or nippled breast plate?  The answer is......well, I'm not sure I can say. I'm kind of thinking neither.
Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns for another adventure, actually, if you were paying attention at the end of the third film you would have heard Jack mention the Fountain of Youth. And that is of course where this little adventure takes us. Some familiar faces are in tow, like Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally), Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Keith Richards as Captain Teague, Jack's father. And I think there were a few supporting cast members from previous films, but don't quote me on that. Everyone else is new including the director, Rob Marshall who is replacing Gore Verbinski on this ho-hum quest. The new cast is pretty exceptional though, Ian McShane as Blackbeard, Penelope Cruz as his femme fatale like daughter. There are vicious mermaids and large battles and of course the Fountain of Youth.
So why the lack of joy in this review you might ask, cause with all of this, with the great cast, visuals and mildly interesting plot, what is actually wrong with this movie? Well to put it mildly it's boring through most of it and it just lacks the fun of the previous films. Yes the second and third films were not very good but they were entertaining spectacles. You were in on the ride no matter how bat shit crazy it was. This one, Jack seems almost normal through most of it. He throws us a few weird speeches just to remind us he's Jack Sparrow, but for the most part he just felt like he was just another action hero with a spice of Han Solo. The script was also seriously lacking, it didn't have the wit or the spark of the first one.  It's a real shame to because this cast was pretty impressive. Honestly Barbossa was truly the best part of the flick, he elevated the material for sure, which is why I'm still scratching my head with Johnny Depp, usually he's doing that too but maybe he just wasn't able to break away given that the film is now solely on his shoulders. No wooden Orlando Bloom or hot Keira Knightley to bounce off of. Anyway, if you find yourself scratching your head and looking for a movie to kill some time with, then sure, Stranger Tides wouldn't be a bad choice, but between Thor and Hangover part II, the choice becomes clear. I know this won't deter Disney from making another one, given that the Box Office has been pretty good the last two weeks. But one could hope they'll keep the Pearl in drydock and lets go back to making more original Pirate adventures. I'm sure they can come up with something--Nah, this is Hollywood, they can only do something truly original in the mainstream maybe once or twice every ten years or so, I think that's a law.
Grade: 2 1/2 Buckets

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