Friday, May 20, 2011

So I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides...

Before starting this, I think it’s important to state my thoughts on the Disney’s mega-franchise Pirates of the Caribbean as a whole. I’m usually not one for swashbuckling adventure but the first one is a fine self-contained romp. I was taken aback by all of the plot threads and mythology building of the second one and despite how awful that movie ended up being, that part of it was intriguing.

At World’s End, however, completed the series’ transformation into The Matrix by going so far up its own ass in terms of resolving plot threads, being three hours for no reason, and just being an absolutely insane, ridiculous spectacle that I actually kind of love it. Is it “good”, not really. But it is epic and ambitious and I always appreciate when movies try to take big risks and fail (Ang Lee's Hulk) like that instead of just playing it safe…

Which is exactly what the new soft-reboot On Stranger Tides does. As was already obvious, it’s a return to the simpler, more self-contained story style of the first one which would have been perfectly fine had the other sequels never happened (and the movie kind of pretends they didn’t). But we’ve seen the franchise go such broader in scope it’s a little hard to go home again. Plus, At World’s END had such a sense of conclusion to it, it just adds to this one feeling very unnecessary. In short, Jack Sparrow is still a perfectly fine and fun character, it's definitely better than the second one and most people, okay everyone will like it better than the third one, but it’s a little meaningless and completed unneeded.

Just some random thoughts upon exiting the theater

-I like how Captain Barbossa’s absurd privateer makeup just dissolved over time

-Blackbeard himself actually continues the series streak of good villains. His random magical powers are entertaining and his dabbling in voodoo and original style (magic, not virus) style zombies are a good fit for the Caribbean theme. Pretty gruesome things involving him happen too.

-However, if he is “the pirate all pirates fear” where was he during the big pirate convention in number 3? Dumb question but still, I don’t like how they want to just ignore the continuity, one of my favorite aspects of the series, just to appease people who felt confused by earlier movies. I know it’s complicated and dumb but if you can follow and pay attention to Inception, you can follow this.

- The plot is taken from a book, and while it’s less ambitious it is (slightly) less bloated and kind of neat. The fountain of youth quest, is the kind of adventure you’d imagine Sparrow having. You just didn’t really need to see it.

- Mermaids are well done and the black mermaids are appreciated but the whole love plot between one mermaid and the fake Orlando Bloom missionary is weird and jarring as is the religious aspect in general. However, they do lead to some pretty good jokes and a moderately surprising twist.

- When did Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz start turning into each other?

-This one is a lot more land bound, probably because of the cheaper budget.

- It’s always fun to watch a 3D movie in 2D just to spot all the dumb gimmicky stuff you know they want to be coming at you.

- If they do make a five and six, they should totally make it insane and dense again, just to see what audiences would do. I'd appreciate it.

And if you want more insight into my thoughts on At World's End you can read this guy's review, which I like 95% agree with.

However, if this movie is the reason why this exists then I am eternally grateful.

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