Wednesday, 18 May 2011

153: Review - PotC - On Stranger Tides

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
18 May 2011. Location: Cinema

Oh yes, I braved the scurvy seas of Orange Wednesdays to see this on the UK opening night. That's how much I love you lot. It's not at all because I've got a busy period approaching in my social calendar and if I didn't get to see it now, it would probably end up being in a couple of weeks, and who'd give a toss about my review then, eh? No, it's not that at all.

Anyway, on to the film! It's almost exactly what you expect it'll be. And I mean that in a good way and a bad one. There's swaggering, boasting, ropes and swordplay. Sultry chicks, swoony guys, scabby captains and a screeching monkey. It's pretty much exactly like the other three, with one caveat to be detailed below. There's a rather magnificent supporting cast of British actors, including Judi Dench and Richard Griffiths in what are essentially cameo roles at the start.

Depp and McNally are on the usual fine form as Sparrow and Gibbs respectively. Geoffrey Rush's Barbossa almost gets some character development, but even when he's coasting it, he's still great fun to watch. Penélope Cruz is entertaining enough as a feisty love interest, and Ian McShane has decided to interpret his role as "in the style of Ian McShane". He's pretty much Lovejoy with a scruffy wig and beard, and stops trying to do a pirate-voice fairly early on.

The Good:
The film has a solid enough plot, with three separate parties all trying to locate the fabled Fountain of Youth. This, as well as the silver chalices needed to use the fountain, makes for a nice MacGuffin. The setpieces are well measured with breathing space in between, and the stuntwork and visual effects are all spot-on as usual. Hans Zimmer's score works well, also as before. Oh, and nice work with the threatening Mermaids, even if the cheeky beggars at Doctor Who jumped the gun on that one by a couple of weeks. I was hoping for more zombies, but the two we get are great (even if they can talk).

The Bad:
Ian McShane can act. I've seen him do it. And yet (as I said above), he's not bringing anything to the character of Blackbeard. Other than his magic rope-controlling-sword, he's barely expanded on at all. Even Davy Jones got his backstory told in Dead Man's Chest. McShane's not alone either. There's some fantastic acting-talent in here, but not a lot of actual acting going on, but that's probably more to do with the cast not being given that much to work with. Which leads me to…

The Ugly:
With the sole exception of the mostly-missed-opportunity of the missionary and the mermaid, there is no depth or character development of any kind in the movie. It's occurred to me that the reason I love the second and third PotC movies is the arc of Davy Jones and Calypso. Other than the characters who actually die in ...On Stranger Tides, everyone emerges unchanged at the other end of the film. I know I shouldn't expect too much from PotC, but it's capable of more than this. Depp is capable of more. But hey, how much would I convey and emote in a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Disney film, eh?

All in all:
It's great if you've enjoyed the others. In fact, it's even an okay place to start as there's no backstory referenced that you can't piece together yourself.
Don't expect too much, and you won't be let down.


A solid actioner, but with nothing new to offer. Will the franchise continue? Of course it bloody will, it's making money. And more power to'em!
Now release some decent 3¾" scale figures please...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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