Pirates 4: On Stranger Tides (2011) – What’s another word for pirate treasure?
I am completely not ashamed to tell you that I am a full fledged Pirates of the Caribbean fanboy. The Fat Man, bright as he is, picked up on this, and bought me the complete DVD set one day for a gift and I’ve about slap wore those bitches out. Seriously. Maybe it’s the wistful desire for sea spray stinging in my nostrils or a hope to one day swab the poop deck as a cabin boy for Captain Jack Sparrow one day. Whatever it is, I adore these movies.
Which is why when they were going ahead with the series, in spite of shedding more than a handful of characters, I was all ready to brave new worlds. As long as Johnny Depp wants to go around playing dress up and make me laugh at his clever word play (“I support the missionary’s position”) I want to watch him weasel into and back out of any adventures he wants to take me on. The fact that he’s back here with Mister Gibbs and Captain Barbossa is a big plus. In fact, the latter very nearly once again steals the show!
With so many characters and even set pieces removed — the infamous Black Pearl is nowhere to be seen — new allies and adversaries were brought in. Some work extremely well such as Ian McShane as the dastardly pirate Blackbeard. Not a moment of joy ever happens when he’s on screen, so unlike Davey Jones, there is no heart locked away in some Dead Man Chest this time. Also surprisingly pleasing is Penelope Cruz, an actress I’ve had an unnatural dislike for. Still, in On Stranger Tides, she proves to be just as Jack Sparrow as he is!
A lot of people who see the film and don’t end up liking it, are going to tell you how they just can’t recapture the magic of Curse of the Black Pearl. Most of them hated the serpentine plot laden sequels and are apparently allergic to fun. That’s okay, but don’t let them talk you out of going and having a good time. Remember, this is movie making for breezy entertainment and big box office business sake, not high art. Though, I have to say, I really get a kick out of just how craftily written this films are. The dialogue is as razor sharp as ever, and while this editions plot has been simplified, it fits so nicely in the world already created.
At this rate, you’re probably expecting me to give it my second A+ for the year, right? Well, hold your horses. I do think the film is a little insecure with itself, as if not sure it could sell the idea of continuing the saga. So already exaggerated characters become even that more so. It dances mightily on the sabers edge of self-parody. The center of the film’s plot also flounders considerably. Though I think it’s an over correction to the critique of how over stuffed the prior two sequels were.
So considering that, I think Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides deserves a:
Pirates of the Caribbean is now officially a tetralogy joining the ranks of Rambo, Dennis the Menace, Scream, and Indiana Jones. Much like Indiana Jones or any other movieseries that overstays its welcome, Pirates began to wear thin with me after the second installment. Slapped together plots with phoned in performances really ruined what could have been a simple, enjoyable series of films. I’m no fan of Bruckheimer, since he’s been recently ruining every good thing ever thought up, but there seem to be bigger forces at work in this particular set of movies.
On Stranger Tides is a complete reboot of the series – a few familiar faces, but really the original trilogy is a distant memory. While I am not the least bit sorry to see the old characters jettisoned, writers don’t even pretend to explain Jack Sparrow’s supposed ties to the Black Pearl and being out to sea for 10 years at a time in relation to the current storyline. What is it, 15 years in the future or so? They simply introduce new characters and do that annoying Star Wars: Episode 2 thing humorously reminiscing on scenes we will never have the displeasure of experiencing. Classic insult to the audience. I’d prefer a hazy, washed-out flashback, thankyouverymuch.
All that complaining aside, I rather enjoyed the film. It definitely did not leave anything for the audience to figure out and seemed to make up its own rules along the way (yeah, that’s right, you need a mermaid tear, 2 goats, and a willing man and the fountain will give you 6 delicious plums that when baked into a flan will create a meal that will take 10 years off of your life. Also, you need a magic entrance to the fountain, but you can just walk on out of that thing through conventional means), but who cares. This series never pretended to be anything but popcorn shoveling fun. I just gagged a little bit admitting that. Queer is somewhere right now getting hot flashes.
Despite the CONSTANT chatter of the teenage population of Falmouth, Maine…. just an aside… based on my sampling of the restaurants, Wal-Mart, and movie theater, I believe the median age of Falmouth to be around 14. Perhaps we should be looking for the fountain of youth there… Where was I?
Despite the CONFUSED teenagers that needed to explain the plot of the movie to each other and wonder where Penelope Cruz was in the other films, I enjoyed the movie for what it was – expensively made cheap entertainment. I wonder if they can figure out how to make production cheaper to turn this into another Blondie or Django series.
The Fat Man grudgingly gives this movie: