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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Pirates Of The Caribbean - On Stranger Tides: Review

Was it really 2003 when the world first experienced the antics of Captain Jack Sparrow? Possibly one of the most enjoyable times I have had in the cinema, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was a swash-buckling treat. The came the two, over-plotted, over-complicated sequels and the love affair for the Pirate series seem to wane. So when news that a fourth film was heading to our shores, we all got excited, hoping that it would return to form of the first film. What we are given is possibly going to be the biggest disappointments of the year.

The plot involves Jack being hoodwinked by notorious pirate Blackbeard and his second-in-command Angelica (who also happens to be an old flame of Sparrow's) into finding two challises and the tear-drop of a mermaid in order for the legendary Fountain of Youth to work. Also after the same thing is former rival Barbossa, now working for the King of England, and the Spanish but who will get there first?

The plot is literally that paper thin, a chase movie in which to get the goal, they have to get the items. Not too much of a problem. Then  why does it take over two hours to do it?

With such a thin storyline you have to ask yourself what is actually included in the film. There are some very good set pieces. Sparrow's escape from capture by the King and the consequent chase through the streets of London has plenty of charm and invention; a sword fight in a cellar is very reminiscent to the one that Sparrow has in the first film. The best of the set pieces is the terrific mermaid attack (which also is the only scene in which the otherwise pointless 3D actually works). The rest of the film is filled with long, drawn-out scenes of dialogue in which the characters repeat over and over what they are having to achieve, or who is double-crossing who, to the point where the watches are being looked at and hope upon hope that some humour will be injected in an otherwise humourless film.

Adding fresh blood to the proceedings, you would have thought could bring some well needed new dimensions. Alas they don't. Sam Clafin actually makes you yearn for Orlando Bloom and love interest Astrid Berges-Frisbey, pretty as she is, doesn't even come close to Keira Knightley, and I never thought I'd hear myself say that. Ian McShane, as the new villain, isn't bad enough and Penelope Cruz is left with a badly underwritten part, even if she is given some fight sequences.

So it is up to the three left from the previous movies to inject some life. Kevin McNally returns as Jack's confidant Gibbs and is perfectly fine while Geoffrey Rush doesn't seem to even try to bring something new to Barbossa and why should he? Don't fix what ain't broke. The saving grace, once again, is Johnny Depp's Jack, although here it seems, even he is struggling to keep the drunken sailor afloat. He only really comes to life in the final scene, where he is finally given some funny lines to say, the rest of the time it's a pretty straight-laced Jack Sparrow.

New director Rob Marshall, eh man who brought musicals back with Chicago and Dreamgirls, does a good job with the action scenes but just doesn't know how to liven things up in between. With half-hearted special effects not helping, you can now see what a truly wonderful film the first Pirates was. Where did it all go wrong?

It's been a pretty disappointing year in the cinema for box office takings and the studios were looking to this for some added revenue but I think it will do well in it's opening weekend and then plummet once word of mouth starts saying that this is, by far, the worst of the series. A very poor show indeed.

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