Monday, 9 December 2013

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)




















We all thought it had ended with the trilogy but no! as in this modern age there had to be a continuation, it had to be milked and a milked it shall be. New director, change of cast line up and a new myth to explore, this franchise has become the Indiana Jones of the era.

This film takes elements from actual real history this time and blends them with classic fantasy. The real bits involve the legendary English pirate Edward Teach and his flagship Queen Anne's Revenge and the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. Now this plot has relaxed a bit, its not a complicated mess of sub plots and tonnes of characters. Sparrow is off to sea once again to find the fountain of youth, alongside him is Barbossa who is now a privateer for the British Navy. At the same time Blackbeard is also after the fountain along with the dastardly Spanish and their religious thoughts. Each party has their own reasons naturally which does as usual involve some double crossing and twists.

I must admit to liking the intergration of actual history into the plot this time. The franchise has slowly used various common old fables and sea myths to its advantage which has worked well, this time the inclusion of some real historic figures gives the whole thing a bit more class, credibility and a small sense of realism. Of course old Blackbeard has been given a slightly spruced up look with black leather top to bottom by the looks of it, aiming for the cool factor a bit too much methinks.

Gotta say I didn't really like the whole supernatural power thing Blackbeard had over his ship with the magic cutlass. That seemed pointless if you ask me, if he can control the ship like that then why use a crew? His galleon has also been given a very fantasised appearance which makes it look like a unique ghost ride attraction in a fairground. Oh and his ship breaths fire out the front? really? did we need that silliness? they'd probably burn their own ship down with it.

Next to that we see mermaids which is about time really if you think about it. The fact they are actually fearsome creatures that kill innocent sailors was a nice touch if rather obvious. But that plot detail causes confusion with the main mermaid character who we are meant to feel for, but that's hard knowing her kind are merciless killers of the deep, plus the 'Splash' finale for her was too much cinematic deja vu.

I think the film in general is let down by totally unrealistic action sequences that just feel implausible when they are suppose to be reasonably plausible. The escape set piece at the start is a good example, its overly long and over the top in every sense. Sparrow is leaping around like an acrobat (clearly a stunt double) and doing things that just wouldn't work, the worst bit is seeing all the English soldiers prat falling about everywhere trying to catch him, its cringing. We all know the franchise is suppose to be fun fantasy but apart from the actual supernatural stuff you do expect a degree of slight realism with some stunts. If it becomes too outrageous then it ceases to be fun and simply becomes a joke, what's worse is the fact its not meant to be that kind of joke.

The film is full of these daft action sequences really, it looks bad because we all know Sparrow isn't that kind of character, we had Turner in the trilogy for that. So now seeing the campy Sparrow mincing about doing these big hero stunts looks stupid as its actually taken semi seriously. As I said earlier the plot does also go down the route of old Indy with the chalices thing and especially the finale for Blackbeard which is pretty much a rip off from 'Raiders' and 'The Last Crusade'.

Altogether the adventure feels a bit flat to me, nothing much happens that we haven't seen before or made me go wow! Most of the characters are running low on juice now accept for Barbossa who is always brilliantly played by Rush. Cruz was a bad casting choice and did nothing whilst McShane wasn't all that intimidating as Blackbeard if you ask me. Kudos to Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey for being gorgeously cute as the mermaid and Richard Griffiths in a small role as King George II at the start.

On the whole very very average in my opinion, hyper stunt laden action sequences can't divert from the fact the film is actually kinda dull. It all looks terrific and very atmospheric in that Monkey Island kinda way but you can tell the difference in direction with the film, it does stand out. I just feel they have now used up most avenues of pirate legend both real and fantasy, I can't see what they can do in the fifth film without it being a complete rehash, especially with this struggling for a fresh look. Who's left to utilize? Long John Silver? Sinbad? YellowBeard? (lol!) what other old creatures and myths can they possibly crowbar in?? Atlantis?

The fact they even squeezed in the minute unrelated hobby of ships in a bottle shows how far they were stretched to incorporate anything remotely olde worlde and piratey into the film. I think this film just about manages to be semi acceptable but that's now it, no more can or should be done. I think Sparrow has had his moment in the spotlight, time to retire in the sun matey.

5/10