A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 598 – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – October 19th, 2011

When this movie came out in theaters I remember considering going to see it and considering some more and ultimately I just wasn’t excited enough about it to bother making time to go. I heard mixed reviews. Some people said it was pretty good, other people said it was mediocre, and other people said it wasn’t fantastic, but it was better than the third one. And you know, that’s just not the sort of ringing endorsement I need for something I’m not excited for on my own. Don’t get me wrong: I do enjoy the Pirates movies. But it’s pretty obvious that the first one was the best and the rest have struggled a bit to compare.

In the end, I played through the movie’s plot in the LEGO video game version before I actually saw the movie. It’s kind of a funny way to do things. I’ve played a bunch of the LEGO games, but before I played them I’d already seen the movies they were based on. If you’ve never played one of the LEGO games, I highly recommend them. The funny thing about them is that they really do a good job of recreating the settings the key plot points take place in, and they use the movies’ plots for the goals of each level. When playing, you can recognize that. Here, it was the other way around. In particular, I was amused to see that the end really did involve the rather complicated means of using the fountain of youth. And to be honest? Most of my interest in this movie came from that game. I just wasn’t really that invested.

Most of the movie is a bit of a blur to me, and I’m pretty confident that it’s not just that I’m writing this well after watching it. Not that it doesn’t have its moments, but it veers far too close to the trying-too-hard line for me to be drawn into it. I remember far more about the third movie and it’s been a lot longer since I last watched that. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood. Maybe it’s that this doesn’t feel like it needs to involve Jack himself in order to happen. After all, he’s not the only one who finds his way to the fountain of youth by the end of the movie. He feels almost incidental here, despite the crucial map everyone needs starting out in his possession.

On the other hand, I do applaud the choice to move on beyond Will and Elizabeth. Not that I’d have minded another two hours of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly, but their characters had their arc. It would have been possible to go back to them, but it would have felt forced. Better to leave them and move on to someone new. Angelica, a former lover of Jack’s and a fierce pirate in her own right, was a lot of fun to watch. Penelope Cruz did a very nice job with the character, making her feisty and unpredictable, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I wouldn’t mind seeing her again, to be honest. And I always have liked Barbossa. It’s fun seeing him play the sort of gray area character. Really, that’s one of the things I like about these movies: The pirates are almost always rooting for themselves. Oh, they’ll help someone else if it suits them (and by “suits them” I include blackmail and the like), but if left to their own devices, they are looking out for number one. And that’s pretty consistent even here.

This movie’s plot centers on the search for the legendary fountain of youth. A number of different people want to find it, so it’s a bit of a race to get to it along with the necessary items one needs in order to use it. Said items are a pair of silver chalices and the tear(s) of a mermaid. It’s a bit like a scavenger hunt. Jack ends up roped into it all for a couple of reasons: 1. He has a map. 2. Barbossa’s dropped his name. 3. He ends up hearing that someone using his name has a ship and is putting a crew together. Turns out it’s not him putting the crew together. Surprise! It’s Angelica, and the ship isn’t the Black Pearl, it’s her father’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Angelica’s father is the famed Captain Blackbeard, a pirate with occult powers that let him control every inch of his ship through his own will. Blackbeard’s interested in the fountain because he’s been told he’ll be killed by a one-legged man and he’d like to not be killed at all. The other folks who want the fountain are the British government and the Spanish government. And then it’s a mad dash and the aforementioned scavenger hunt.

I seem to recall some crossing and double crossing and Blackbeard’s kind of a jackass, but his daughter loves him and all. He’s got a missionary on his ship, captured a while back and spared because of Angelica (who had been set to join a convent before meeting Jack). Turns out it’s a good thing they’ve got him, because when they capture a mermaid they totally fall in love and without that she’d never have cried and there wouldn’t have been any magic tears and whoops, there goes the plot. Though to be honest, I found the mermaid storyline far more interesting than anything to do with Jack in this movie.

What this movie does well is to build more of the world it’s set in. I remember being pretty impressed with the ocean-going lore involved in the other movies and this one follows right along. The mermaids are nicely done and I like how that little storyline ends up going. I also like that Blackbeard has actual ships in bottles. These movies have a nicely unreal feel to them, which works for me largely because well, the reality of pirates isn’t nearly as romantic and fun as the fantasy. So taking these bits and pieces of superstition and fantasy and mixing them together is a good way to go. It’s just that what this movie doesn’t do well is engage me in its entirety. Maybe I’m bored with Jack. Maybe the franchise is bored with him. He was a great character to start with and I get that he’s at the center of the series, but I kind of wish he didn’t have to be. Moments like his reaction to Barbossa’s hollow wooden leg just don’t come frequently enough in this movie. I’m not sure where that leaves the franchise, and at least this wasn’t a bad movie, but maybe it’s time to call it a day before a bad movie is what they have to end on.


October 19, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

October 19, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Can you make a Pirates of the Caribbean movie without Gore Verbinski? Without Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley? Certainly the producers at Disney who greenlit this fourth Pirate movie. All you really need for a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, they desperately hope, is Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Well, that and a bunch of mystical nonsense, sword fights, improbable escapes and pirates.

October 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment