Saturday, May 21, 2011

Guest Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Hey movie goers! I haven't seen Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides yet(and from the reviews have no real desire to do so), but my friend Noelle has seen it and wanted to do a guest sketch and review! She did an awesome colored sketch and a pretty funny and enlightening review. Thanks Noelle!

Enjoy the following from Noelle Loughran:

Here there be pirates. Again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the Pirates franchise. I’ve got a Jack Sparrow blanket to prove it. But Disney, like many other movie giants, has a hard time laying a franchise to rest at the optimal time. They’re much more fond of the ‘beating the dead horse’ method.


We open with, once again, Jack Sparrow in trouble and his comical attempts to escape confinement. After escaping the hard-to-look-at King George II, who rather resembled a hog in a wig, Jack winds up at the pub where a Captain Jack impostor is said to be gathering a crew. We only get a brief moment with Captain Teague, Jack’s rock’n’roll dad(played by Keith Richards), which is a shame, because Richards makes a pretty cool pirate. Jack’s impostor turns out to be a scorned lover, the hot-blooded Angelica, whom Jack had seduced just before she’d taken her vows as a nun - he claims he mistook the convent for a brothel.

While the fight scenes in the movie are just as exciting and inventive as always, as the pirates use all at their disposal to battle their opponents, the constant ‘turn-around-to-see-more-enemies’ is so predictable. Each time they think they’ve won, they turn around and - bam! - guns pointed at them from a semi-circle of either Spaniards or Barbossa’s newly acquired crew. Barbossa has, in this film, turned coat on the pirates and joined the King’s service, looking out of place in his fancy new threads and powdered wig.

Jack is drugged by Angelica, and wakes up to find he’s on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship belonging to the fearsome Blackbeard. Jack attempts to start a mutiny, and Blackbeard stops it with his voodoo controlled ship, stringing the mutineers up with the ship’s rigging, then sets the watchmen adrift on a longboat and uses the GIANT FLAMETHROWERS in the front of his ship to barbeque the poor fellow. Angelica turns out to be the daughter of the infamous pirate, who naturally, forces Jack to lead him to the prize he seeks - the Fountain of Youth. And then, the race is on, for the Spaniards and Barbossa are also after it.

Jack switches sides so many times it’ll make your head hurt. He’s first on his own, no interest in the Fountain of Youth. Then he’s forced into Blackbeard’s crew, then when out seeking Ponce de León’s silver chalices he runs into Barbossa and joins tentative forces to get the chalices from the Spaniards and to lead Barbossa to Blackbeard. Then at the Fountain, Jack is once again in his own corner as he attempts to avoid fighting, etc.

While supernatural creatures are no strangers to the PotC world, the mermaids are certainly memorable. A far cry from the happy, singing mermaids of The Little Mermaid, these ladies are vicious, blood thirsty creatures who lure men in with their pretty faces and sweet voices, only to drag them under and rip them to shreds with the fangs that Stephanie Meyer forgot to give her Twilight vamps. And then, capitalizing on the zombie craze, Blackbeard has several ‘zombied’ crew members, tall, imposing men with white eyes and horrific scarring. One of them has even gained the ability to see the future and foretells of Blackbeard’s looming death, which is what drives the pirate to seek the Fountain. But all of these creatures still pale in comparison to the fearsome Kraken from the second movie, Dead Man’s Chest. Hey, it’s hard to compete with a ship crushing monster. Then again, the mermaids do manage to take down Barbossa’s ship, so who knows?

As for his relationship with Angelica, it never really settles on anything. At first their chemistry sizzles, red-hot from meeting long after Jack’s betrayal which is still clearly fresh in Angelica’s mind as she takes on Jack in a sword fight in the back of the pub before they’re ambushed by royal soldiers. But their love-hate banter gets predictable as the movie goes on, and the viewer never really gets a solid feel for what their relationship is. I suppose part of it is Jack’s inability to settle down, being ever the wandering pirate - he informs Gibbs he once had what he calls “stirrings” but balks when Gibbs says he had “feelings” for Angelica - but the movie was certainly lacking in a real romantic element. Though Will and Elizabeth had been somewhat difficult to put up with, they filled the romance slot well enough, but Angelica and Jack go too quickly from love to hate and back and forth to really make their love-interest role flourish. Oh, and it probably doesn’t help that after she tells him she loves him, Jack maroons her on an island and sails away as she shoots at him.

On that note though, Angelica herself is a good character, though she’s not so much of a new element because she slips so seamlessly into the movie. It’s almost as if she’d always been there, just in the background, only now moving to the front. However, she’s a refreshing change from Elizabeth, who despite trading in her frilly dresses for a sword and a hat, was unbearably shrill and prissy, whereas Angelica is a truly kickass female, who doesn’t rely on a man to save her at every turn. Even in the face of death (once from a fearsome mermaid and again at the Fountain) she is extremely reluctant to accept Jack’s help, her pride fueling her need to do things her way.

Moving away from the characters and the plot, the musical score was fantastic as usual, scored once more by Hans Zimmer. Of course we revisit old favorites like the Pirates’ theme and Jack Sparrow’s theme, but also adding in new elements, such as a first time collaboration with Rodrigo y Gabriela, a Mexican musical duo who specialize in playing fast, rhythmic acoustic guitars, a perfect fit to the fast paced Pirates world.

The movie was - as with every movie these days - shot in 3D, but I passed on seeing that. Too many 3D movies seem to have few actual 3D scenes, and aside from some sword jabbing, I hear this was no different.

All in all, I’d give the movie a 3 out 5 if I had to rate it. I’ll always love Captain Jack, and Angelica made a nice addition to the cast, but the muddled, back and forth plot of the movie made this fourth installment in the series less than stellar. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t exactly great either, savy?

No comments:

Post a Comment