Friday, May 20, 2011

Movie with Abe: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Directed by Rob Marshall
Released May 20, 2011

Films like “Fast Five” have demonstrated that there is hope out there for sequels so far removed chronologically both in the real world and in the fictional world. The important difference between series like this and that is that none of the “Fast and the Furious” films were ever truly impressive, and none of the successive films were all that bad after a strong start with number one. The first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie was absolutely terrific and is one of those flicks that can be watched over and over again. The second and third, however, couldn’t even come close to matching its quality. A new director, new cast members, and an equally unfocused premise can’t help this fourth entry at all.

Remembering the glory and thrills of the first film, released now eight years ago, it’s hard not to be set up for disappointment. This film relies heavily on the crutch of being a fourth film with plenty of history to reference and exposition to skip over, immediately establishing Jack Sparrow as the heavily irresponsible, easily distracted, and generally unmotivated and drunk pirate he has always been. It’s a familiar character who has been featured so prominently that he almost isn’t interesting anymore. His behavior, just like the fight scenes, feels painfully choreographed and so expected that it just isn’t any fun.

It’s hard to take the plotline seriously, if it can even be understood at all. The allure of half-dead pirates is long gone, and aside from some insanely creepy mermaids, there isn’t much in the way of coherent scare tactics present in the film. The quest for eternal life is so laden with multiple countries and ships vying for a chance at it that things quickly become confused and get tangled up with each other. Major plot points from previous films are ignored and exchanged so as to position those cast members still willing to return in a way that works best, and there’s little to no sense to be had in the entire film.

Johnny Depp is still decently entertaining as Captain Jack Sparrow, but it’s clear that he just isn’t putting any effort in anymore. Geoffrey Rush has turned his Captain Barbossa into a caricature, and it’s a shame given how great Rush was in the first film and the other exceptional work he’s been doing in recent years in films like “The King’s Speech.” Penelope Cruz isn’t worth discussing, and veteran actors such as Ian McShane and Richard Griffiths are hopelessly wasted in one-note roles. Though the first film excelled in that department, this isn’t supposed to be a film about acting, but its action and adventure don’t succeed any better. Having a romance subplot about a religious man and a mermaid demonstrates just how off-base this film is, and I’d expect better from director Rob Marshall, whose resume prior to this included only “Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and “Nine.” The first “Pirates of the Caribbean” was terrific, and the subsequent movies were somewhat fun if nothing else. This entry, however, is just boring, and so completely skippable.


No comments: