Why hello movie fans, this weeks Movie Madness with the Movie Junky has pirates and well. . . pirates. For those of you who don’t know, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth film in Disney’s Pirates franchise officially came to theaters this friday. A new movie with new adventures, new actors, but in all honestly, really just more of the same.
The film started off well enough, with Johnny Depp, once again embodying the role of Captain Jack Sparrow, making his grand entrance while trying to save his first mate, Gibbs (played of course by Kevin McNally) from the gallows. Then on to a failed escape and yet another grand (or familiar) entrance by the great Geoffrey Rush as the now one legged Barbossa. Captain Jack makes another terrific, and comical escape, leading to a chase producing one of the best filmed sequences in the movie. Although after this the film seems to lose its momentum and the pacing is off for the rest of the story.
Other than the chase sequences and some of the better choreographed fights, the best moments of the film came from the new characters, Blackbeard and his daughter Angelica. Played by the gorgeous Oscar winner Penélope Cruz, and the fantastically underwritten Ian McShane. Cruz’s Angelica was not only the first true female pirate of the series, but also the most interesting character of the film. The tension and chemistry between Jack and Angelica was palpable, making their scenes together great character moments.
That is what I liked about the fourth Pirates movie, now for what I didn’t like, starting with Spanish. I don’t mean the language or the people, but the Spanish’s pursuit of the Fountain of Youth, felt, useless. They gave us the opening scene (before Jack’s rescue of Gibbs) and then a way to get Sparrow and Barbossa working together, though other than that they served no real purpose. Overall the movie would have been fine, or maybe even better without them. I also found myself missing the Tuners, or maybe just their budding and ever growing romance. I think the real problem there was not the lack of Bloom and Knightly’s characters, but the fact that their replacements, new comers (well new to me) Astrid Berges-Frisbey and Sam Claflin were just not as interesting. Not to say that the mermaids themselves weren’t interesting. In fact, the mermaids were the most surprising part of movie, and actually one of my favorite moments.
Other than the mermaid surprise, back before I even knew of their involvement in the film, I was down right shocked by the choice of Rob Marshall as this film’s director. Marshall is a well known as a Tony Award nominated choreographer and director, and even more well known as the Academy Award winning director of the musical Chicago. As a first time Pirates director, Robb Marshall did well enough, though not as good as I we could have hopped. He directed the fight and chase sequences like grand musical numbers, giving the audience some fantastic moments, but in the end the film as a whole, fell flat to my expectations.
All in all, I really only liked the film in bits and pieces, Penélope Cruz and Ian McShane as Angelica and Blackbeard, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, the idea of the story (even if the script itself left more to be desired) and of course the mermaids. Though we don’t make good movies in the bits and pieces of good moments, and in the end the fourth Pirates movie left me a little unsatisfied. As for all you hard core Pirates and Jack Sparrow fans out there, I’m sure you will enjoy the film as the heart and soul of the franchise, Mr. Johnny Depp, was used in almost every scene. The film should have revamped the series, instead they played it safe with a glossy studio film, made seemingly only to keep interest in the series. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides gets an A for the good use of Penélope Cruz, Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush. A D for not bringing anything new to the series, pacing issues and the horribly small amount of screen time for Ian McShane. After averaging it out Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides gets a C+ which stands for average.