Monday, 6 June 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean- On Stranger Tides

The majority opinion is that the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise has been getting worse per film. So, here is my chance to state my personal opinion. The Curse of the Black Pearl is terrific; so refreshing and original, it really was a breath of fresh air. Dead Man's Chest is the highlight of the series for me, it contained the perfect mix of action and comedy, and the result was a knockout. At World's End was just awful. No comedy and dull action made for a stupidly long 2 hours 50 minutes. So, I'd give Pirates 1 an 80% rating, Pirates 2 would get 90% and At World's End a very low 20%. So, where will the highly anticipated fourth instalment fare in my list?

"On Stranger Tides" again follows Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). This time, however, he is joined by past lover Angelica (Penélope Cruz). They are on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth, because Angelica's father, Blackbeard (Ian McShane) is prophesised to die soon by the hands of a one legged man. This is believed to be Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who is also set to head to the Fountain of Youth. Also in the race is the Spanish Armada. Jack doesn't particularly want to be working for and helping Blackbeard, as he is known as the pirate that all other pirates fear. So, with a three way race taking place, which group can make it to the Fountain first?

Well, I'll start here by saying what a damned sight better than 3 this was! It's such an improvement it's unreal! Hats off to new director Rob Marshall, just goes to show that maybe a fresh mind was all this series needed. It's by no means perfect, and it doesn't reach the standards of the first two, but it was such a relief to see that I wasn't disappointed. It's got its flaws, and I will list them, but let's start with the positives.

The special effects took a backseat here; "On Stranger Tides" cost half of At Worlds End, and ended up with a budget of around $150,000,000. This showed, as the effects weren't the biggest positive I have to offer, they were there, but they were all subtle and just used for emphasis, rather than primary attraction. They weren't really needed at all; the imagery itself was absolutely stunning. Some of the cinematography in this was mind-blowing, it was just beautiful. This one was filmed primarily in Hawaii, instead of the usual Caribbean location in the previous films. This gave some of the action sequences a big edge to them, as they're fighting around such stunning backgrounds; I just wanted to drool on the floor.

Obviously, all of the Pirates films are aimed to be funny as well as action packed and serious. I can safely say that this was indeed very funny. There are loads of good, comedic moments that weren't shown off in trailers, so that was a surprise for me. Jack obviously remains the best character; Depp gives such a solid performance every time. I also found Blackbeard pretty funny at the same time, and Angelica had her moments. In fact, I liked both of these new characters. They made for worthy newcomers, and I kind of wish Blackbeard had just a bit more screen time.

Thirdly, the action sequences. I'll be honest, they just don't stop. It does get a bit tiring towards the end, the battle at the Fountain of Youth goes on for too long, but all previous sequences are brilliant to watch, and are very well choreographed. The highlight for me has to be Jack and Barbossa escaping after being captured by the Spanish peeps. It's not exactly action packed, but it's bloody brilliant. I'll give you a hint; Jack shuffles up a palm tree, and uses a large piece of fruit to swing to various other trees. It's absolutely hilarious, and has some good, fast paced action moments too.

Now, I didn't want to have to do this, but On Stranger Tides isn't all perfect. I'll start with the characters. I loved Blackbeard and Angelica, but there were two other characters that stood out for me, but not for good reasons. Syrena the Mermaid (who was strangely Russian?!) and Philip Swift (Sam Claflin). They were just really undefined. The mermaid is only useful for her tear which is needed to gain access to the Fountain of Youth, but other than that she was just a waste of time. Don't get me wrong, the whole Mermaid capture scene was terrific, and pretty scary, but she was worthless. Philip was just useless on a whole. He didn't have any link to the plot at all, and I get the impression he was just there as eye candy for the girls, replacing Orlando Bloom's Will Turner (who I didn't miss). I did, however, miss Elizabeth Swan, I loved her character. The only other negative I can give was the plot. Whilst it was simpler that At World's End, it was a bit shallow. Other than the race to the Fountain, there was no actual depth, and at 2 and a half hours, that's not a good sign.

So, overall this was a fairly decent fourth instalment. As I said, the plot was weak, and the characters were undeveloped, but that didn't take away the fun I had watching this. I gave it an extra 10% for the miraculous recovery over part 3, thank God for that. By the way, stick around at the end of the credits; you won't regret it! I heard that they're planning a fifth and sixth film for the franchise. All I can say is this: Please, please don't. This was a high, don't attempt a fifth, which could possibly end on a low. Quit while you're ahead, Disney. This was great, but stop here.

To Summarise: The stunning imagery, great action and worthy comedy can't completely overcome the thin plot and undeveloped characters, but On Stranger Tides is a fun, and vast improvement over its predecessor.

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