Thursday, May 26, 2011

‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’– Set it adrift!

I was a fan of the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’, it was the best in the franchise and still remains so. The next two films in the franchise, ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ and ‘At World’s End’, struggled at best to keep up with the original and the current chapter, ‘On Stranger Tides’ has lost all of the wind in its sails.

I actually elected to see this version in 3D, and while the 3D quality was excellent (for a live action film) the remainder of the film fell flat; the script itself is poorly written and is hardly coherent from one scene to the next. Back is Johnny Depp as the crafty Captain Jack Sparrow, who is still shipless the Black Pearl having been stolen by Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffry Rush), and in search of the Fountain of Youth. Competing in the search or, depending on the need of the scene, teaming up in the search are some new characters to the franchise. Penelope Cruz is the pirate Angelica, a former love of Jack’s who just happens to be the daughter of the evil pirate Blackbeard (played with a phone in performance by Ian McShane); Philip (Sam Claflin) a missionary who is held prisoner aboard Blackbeard’s ship (which leads to more than one terrible sexual joke) and Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), a mermaid who stunningly looks like Jenifer Gardner. There are guest spots by Keith Richards as the elder Sparrow and Judi Dench, presumably, they needed the money.

Before they can partake of the Fountain of Youth, they first need to find a few things: a map, two silver chalices from the ship of Ponce De Leon and the single tear of a mermaid (the mermaids seem to be vampires or something like that). Oh, wait, I forgot, the Spanish Armada is search for the Fountain as well. The search begins in London and takes the merry band of pirates through various locals (that conceivably would take months to get to via wind borne ships) from one loud and violent incident to the next without so much as a coherent plot to link them together; at 2 ½ hours, that’s a lot of senseless (and often not very good) violence, simply for the sake of it.

Depp as Captain Jack, was entertaining in the 1st ‘Pirates’, overbearing in the 2nd ‘Pirates’, a bit dull in the 3rd ‘Pirates’ (generally because he wasn’t in it much) and now, in the 4th ‘Pirates’ I was left wondering if he could drive it any further into the ground. Sadly, I think he can as the ending sequence was basically a trailer for the 5th film! Rush as Captian Barbossa was hammy as usual, Cruz as Angelica left me wondering how she got the part in the first place and McShane as Black Beard completely disappointed me (especially if you know him from the fantastic HBO series ‘Deadwood’). Directed by Rob Marshall (who should stick to what he does best, musicals), the movie itself, where it should be lush and filled with tropical locales, seems dull and a bit cardboard in nature. The only saving grace was the fantastic soundtrack by Hans Zimmer who can always capture the moment in the score.

This is a 2 ½ star effort from a sinking franchise that I am sure will do big numbers and will produce yet two more films that I will again waste money on…hoping in vain for the best!

For better action (with very little plot though), pop on over to your local Redbox and pick up ‘The Mechanic’, the 2 ½ star remake of the Charles Bronson thriller featuring Jason Statham in the title role. While it really never ties much together smartly, Statham is a true action star and carries each scene with stunning ease. While it left me wanting at the theater, it is not a bad pick for your slim dollar bill in the vending slot!

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