Last week I caught a screening of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I loved the first Pirates movie. I loved half of the second movie and 40 percent of the third movie — both were messy romps that were all over the place. With that in mind, I was apprehensively looking forward to a new Captain Jack Sparrow adventure. I was curious to see if director Rob Marshall could tighten up the Pirates series. He did. On Stranger Tides is much more coherent than the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but it lacks some of the charm of its forerunners. Here are several random thoughts (not a review!) on the film. There be spoilers ahead, matey!!!
Captain Jack Sparrow, Hector Barbosa, and Everyone Else: There was a sharp drop-off after these two characters. Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush were expectedly awesome. There were other decent performances, but nobody else could hold a candle to these guys. Sadly, Kevin McNally’s Gibbs — a character I really like — wasn’t given as much time to shine as in the previous films. Most of the movie felt like Depp, Rush, and a bunch of understudies.
Keira Knightley Was Missed: Touching on the previous point, Penelope Cruz did a decent job as Angelica and the movie’s principal eye candy. However, she was not nearly as charming, interesting, or sexy as Keira Knightley. The writers tried to give Angelica layers, but it all felt rather predictable.
Blackbeard Was Meh: I was also mostly unimpressed with Ian McShane’s Blackbeard. I just didn’t find him intimidating at all. Barbosa and Davy Jones were wonderful antagonists in the previous films. Blackbeard felt like an old guy with a remote-controlled ship. He’s supposed to be “the pirate that all pirates fear”, but he didn’t come off as fearsome.
Coherence at Last!: As I mentioned in the intro, the second and third movies were all over the place. On Stranger Tides was much more coherent. Everyone had clear goals and motivations. It was easy to understand where everyone was going and why. It just made much more sense than the last two films.
Kickstart My Heart: The first 20 minutes of the movie are action packed. They’re full of fight scenes, chase scenes, etc. This caught me by surprise. It was a great way to kick off a summer blockbuster. I kept waiting for the action to die down, but more and more kept coming. I kept asking myself, “Can I breath yet?”
Mermaids are Hot!: The mermaids in this movie were incredibly sexy. The first mermaid the crew meets was played by the gorgeous Gemma Ward. The mermaid with an actual plot line was played by Astrid Berges-Frisbey. She just looked stunning and ethereal on the big screen. I would have been content watching her eat bread for 90 minutes. Just beautiful.
Missionaries are Boring: I couldn’t stand Philip the captive missionary. Part of it had to do with the fact that I generally don’t like preachers. Part of it was because his romance with the mermaid Syrena felt lame and forced. I’m sure that part of it — more than I’d actually admit — had to do with me not wanting to see the gorgeous mermaid end up with the lame-ass missionary.
Wrap Up: I enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. It was a fun adventure with two great characters and a bunch of beautiful people. The 3D was neat, the pacing was great, and the action was fun. Although this was a much tighter film than the last two, it just wasn’t as charming. In wrestling terms, it’s like comparing a remarkably consistent match to a wreck full of amazing high spots. Out of the two summer blockbuster screenings I’ve attended in 2011, I’d recommend seeing Thor over Pirates 4.
If you happen to catch On Stranger Tides, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the movie. Kindly share and discuss!