Before I start my review, I would like to state that I have never really been a massive fan of the Pirates franchise. Yes many people would say that I am simply being disagreeable, and wanting to be awkward. But this is unintentional, and I have always found the films drawn out, unfocused and at time times confusing affairs, which are over reliant of Johnny Depp.
Saying this I can also see the fun element, and do not resent anyone from liking the films (as I do myself when the mood takes me). Alas as much as they are over reliant on him, Captain Jack Sparrow is a wonderful cinematic character. It is a shame that even this element is starting to lose its appeal after so many different showings. There is only so long Jack can go on with his ill thought out but subsequently successful escape routines. And only so long that an audience can go film after film without seeing any growth in a character’s personality.
In this latest installment, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, we see Jack being used by the wonderfully depicted Black Beard (Ian McShane), in the search to find the fountain of youth. It has been prophesized that Black Beard is to be killed by a one armed legged man, and so the fountain is necessary for his survival.
After procuring a mermaid’s tear, and a pair of necessary chalices, yet again Jack’s magical compass leads the way to the fountain. Alongside this is Jack’s love interest, Angelica (Penelope Cruz), who is a former lover of Jack’s and unbeknown to Jack at the beginning, Black Beard’s selfless daughter. Angelica is loyal to her Father, while also obviously still carrying feelings for Jack and vice versa.
Thrown into the mix is the reappearance of Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who has been hired by the King of England to also find the fountain of youth. The discovery is of little interest to Barbossa though, whose main goal is the opportunity to seek his revenge on Black Beard after he fought and captured the infamous Black Pearl. Whilst in this fight Barbossa was forced to cut off the bottom part of his right leg. I won’t state the obvious though.
The depiction of the mermaid’s in the film is definitely one of the highlights. We are given a real sense of their alluring beauty, and you almost find yourself leaning towards the screen to steal a kiss yourself. This is of course, before they are unveiled as being highly defensive, snarling predators. The chemistry between the captured mermaid and the imprisoned missionary, outshone the interest I had between Jack and Angelica which seemed fake and little different from what we have seen from Jack and his other previous love interests.
Ian McShane was an inspired choice for Black Beard, but he is not used nearly enough. He is given little chance to bestow his influence upon the film, and when a scene is presented in which his grittiness and menacing demeanor can be utilized, it is usually reverted back to another scene of flirtatious interaction between the two love birds in denial.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a fun film, and no doubt fans of the others will find this greatly enjoyable and will experience it like a revisit from an old friend. For me it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, and at a considerably shorter running time than the second and third, it is a lot more manageable. It seems that the issue of complicated storyline has attempted to be rectified, but so much so that in the end there is little point to anything. SPOILER After all the trouble and strife, the only use gained from the fountain of life is to prevent Angelica from dying, who is subsequently stranded by Jack soon after. END SPOILER
The worst part of the film however, is the disappointing 3D. Perhaps it was the fault of the particularly dark and aged glasses given out by the festival staff, but the whole thing was dark and dingy and the whole 3D effect added little to the film. At times I was looking over the top of the glasses, and when I did what I saw was a much brighter and vibrant film, in which I could enjoy the few good things without feeling the repetitive strain on my eyes.
Overall, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is nothing new, and in this regard, the persistence of production companies and film makers to push the 3D revolution is comparable to Captain Jack Sparrow’s daring and reckless escapades; it is beginning to grow old, tiresome, and should be put to rest like any other passing fad. Savvy?
Casting all hope aside, this is unlikely to be the last Pirates film, but it should be. A weak storyline, with an obvious conclusion. and the pointless inclusion of the Spanish Royal family to make it a third horse race makes for a dull film.