Pirates Review: On Boring Tides

Posted: May 20, 2011 in Movies

Great cast. Boring movie.

I’m going to try and be nice here.  I really am.  I’m not one to always push the negatives forward and just dump on something I don’t like, so I’m going to do my best to be as good as I can be in this review for Rob Marshall’s take on the popular Disney franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

But it’s gonna be hard…

So, it’s been about four years since we saw the conclusion to the Pirates storyline involving Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann’s (Keira Knightley) adventure trying to capture the heart of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and the fate of the Caribbean Islands.   We all thought (at least, I did at the time) that this was all over.  The series had a successful trilogy and all the little tweens out there could move on past there rather disturbing obsession with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).

Well, shit, because later I find out that they where, in fact, making a fourth film in the series that would almost certainly start a new trilogy and we would never get away from this damn Jack Sparrow character!

Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz play off each other so well!

Now…Before things get too heavy, let me admit something to you all.  I actually LIKED the original set of movies.  I found them to be fun and full of high adventure, something I want in a fantastical pirate themed film.  I mean, sure, the storyline was terribly convoluted (I’m not saying that it was the HARDEST set of films to follow, but it just seemed that everyone was  betraying everyone and after the fiftieth time, it got old, fast.), and maybe some of our actors where pushing the limits of bad acting (Looking at you Keira…), but I sat down at all three and really enjoyed them.  They where all really fun, popcorn films that you can pop in once in a while and have a chuckle at Depp playing off his lanky, almost always confused drunken rouge that people seemed to have fallen in love with.

With that said, I’ll say that when I heard there was going to be a fourth film, I was a little worried.  I mean, there was no need for it at all!  No reason they had to push another Jack Sparrow adventure on us when the first three where plenty.

Still, I have a soft spot for pirate films in general, and I’m ALWAYS a sucker for a good sword fight.  When the movie premiered last night, I took a friend and we caught the midnight showing.  I honesty wasn’t expecting much, but the draw of pirate ships and sword fights was too strong.  I payed for my ticket and went on my merry way.

By the time the movie was over, I was trying not to fall asleep.

Now I’m not sure it’s because I’ve just grown out of this series and find none of it’s recycled jokes (I can’t STAND the “it’s CAPTAIN Jack…” line anymore!  I hated it when they overused it in the FIRST &#&$ film!) and overplayed melodies tired and played out.  Maybe it was the script, it’s lack of heart and anything remotely involving the epicness that was found in the last three films (seriously, the scope on this movie was small and confined, no where NEAR the sea battles and mast balancing sword fights of the last few movies).  Maybe it was past midnight and I was just really tired.

I don’t know.

But what I DO know is that I have a first impression.  I will say that the film itself wasn’t TERRIBLE.  It was just really, really boring.

Painfully so.

Ian McShane plays the villainous Blackbeard perfectly!

From the moment we first see Depp as Jack and his “daring” escape from London, I was already yawing and wishing we could move on to the second act, already a bad sign.  It only proceeded to move on from there in a semi-slow pace that never really picked up (even though the scene where they try to catch a mermaid was fun and a little shocking, it was still missing that edge that could of made it really great).   I’ll admit it had a few fun scenes and I did laugh honestly a few times, so I’ll give the movie some credit for that, but I can tell you WHY that was.  It sure as HELL wasn’t because of that script.  We have, as usual, a talented bunch of actors playing off each other, and it felt like a lot of the interactions between the main cast was ad libbed, and that came off really interesting.  Love him or hate him, Depp can act, and he has, by now, perfected his Jack Sparrow role to a T.  Seeing him tease, court, argue, and fight with the beautiful Penélope Cruz (playing a pirate captains daughter, Angelica) was fun and cute and interesting, but that’s because I bought the chemistry here, something that’s crucial when trying to sell a romance in film.  Ian McShane was simply brilliant as the films antagonist, Edward Teach, otherwise know throughout history as Blackbeard the Pirate.  He played the role with a calm venom, seeing in him, with each scene he was in, the real villain ready to burst from his almost unwavering patience.  The few times we DO see him loose his cool prove to be some of the better scenes in the entire film.  We also have, returning to us, Captain Hector Barbossa, played wonderfully by the talented Geoffrey Rush.  The way Depp and Rush play off each other has always been a major part of the entertainment of the three films, and to see them at it again was, admittedly, nice. Our core cast played off what little could be found in this script as best they could, and while I respect them all for putting in real effort, it couldn’t save this film.

Once again, I’m not saying that it was a bad film….just boring.  I sat there most of the time trying to feign interest in what I was seeing, hoping that maybe, at the end, we would see an epic sword battle set before the Fountain of Youth, our Macguffin, if you will, set as a goal for all our cast and crew.  But unfortunately, no such luck.

When Depp and Rush are both on screen, the movie shines.

I’m not going to give away the plot (what little there is) and I’m not going to sit here and blast it to little bits.  What I AM going to do is say my final piece and leave it at that.  The new Pirates film has a few entertaining bits to go around, and it’s brilliant cast really help drive the humor and fun that IS to be had, but the film can’t stand on this alone.  The story is crap, the direction is crap, and even the score is crap (recycling your score isn’t unusual for franchise, but come on….I can’t tell you how many times the music seemed to chime in at the wrong time, wrong pitch, and wrong speed for what we saw on screen).  Over all, I would say that if you miss this film in theaters, I wouldn’t cry about it.  I can’t even say that it’s worth buying when it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray.  If it happens to hit your list on Netflix, sure, give it a watch.  I can’t really justify paying the $10 for a ticket to see it now when your monthly subscription can pay for it for you.

I’m sorry guys, but maybe next time, don’t try so HARD to put me to sleep when your flashing off Miss Cruz’s breasts at me, yeah?  Thanks, I appreciate it.

  1. KikyoShibaya says:

    Brutal… whether I mean Your review, or the movie, will have to wait until I actually see the movie. I can say, without having seen it, that it can’t be too HORRIBLE, as Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann are gone. In my humble opinion, that brings the movie up about six notches from the outset. Orlando and Kiera must have been brain dead when they saw their respective scripts and went “hmm, looks like fun!” If they were anything but moneygrubbing wh… actors… they would have said absolutely NOT, not until you have someone who isn’t covered in fur and obsessed with bananas write the script. Then maybe I could have enjoyed the first three more. Let’s be honest, it’s a bad sign when the second the scene cuts from Jack to Will, an ENTIRE THEATRE groans. Happened to me in the third movie.

    The Pirates! movies are so horribly contrived, it’s like the writers thought they should just not even try. WHY!? Contrived can WORK, look at Thor. Was there a SINGLE plot twist you didn’t see a mile away? But it worked. Thor pulled it off nicely and they couldn’t have picked a better cast to do it. Pirates could have been the same way, they certainly have the star-studded cast for it.

    Honestly I think it would have been better if they left Jack behind and focused on Barbosa anyway, had Jack come in, sure, but give the spotlight to someone who’s NOT bat-shit insane. Jack’s a lucky idiot that reminds me of my boss’s son.

    I’m gonna wait for this to hit redbox, rent it for a night for a dollar, then I’m going to beat myself up because a twix would have been a better use of my time.

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