A blog about movies and filmmaking.

There Should Be A Captain In There Somewhere | PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

In action, comedy, Family, Fantasy on May 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Captain Jack Sparrow has become one of the most iconic movie characters of this new millennium; right beside Jason Bourne, The Joker, and Bumblebee (in his current Michael Bay envisioned form – there’s even a guy on Hollywood Blvd dressed like him all the time). So, while the original trilogy of Pirates ended on an up-note for just about everyone, there was quickly word that a new adventure with Johnny Depp’s pirate would be back.

And back he is, though not quite as swashbuckling as before. Part of the charm of the original movies were we had no idea who this guy was, whose side he was on (though usually on his own, he tended to vacillate between allies), and what crazy concoction he’d come up with next. Unfortunately, three movies tends to give you a good grasp on what the character’ll do. And that’s this movie’s main problem.

Johnny Depp is back in full form and makes Jack as entertaining and flamboyant as ever. But now, even he’s aware of how big this character is and some of the movie comes off as trying to hard – let it be said there are quite a few moments of fun surprise involved. Though it all winds up being much more CRYSTAL SKULL than…well, LAST CRUDADE. (See one was a sequel bringing in a different story after an extensive amount of time away from the franchise, where something fun was added to the mythos. And the other was digging through a silly – off-screen – past and trying to create magic where there was only special effects. The only thing missing from Stranger Tides is a secret love-child.)

The story itself is pretty fun though. Jack Sparrow is conscripted to work on a ship headed toward the Fountain of Youth. He’s enticed to take on this job because of his long, lost love – the jilted Angelica (Penelope Cruz) – only to find out she’s in cahoots with Blackbeard (the ever evil Ian McShane). Angelica is introduced in a fun bit of sword-play and an interesting comment on Sparrow’s mannerisms. McShane, as always growls and terrifies in ways only he can (and amazingly they gave the character the one characteristic I was afraid they’d overlook; fire in his beard. Yeah, I’m a pirate geek.) Also along on the mission, and the only returning crew-men are Gibbs (Kevin McNally), a poncified and one-legged Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and yes the Monkey shows up briefly. The new faces, from fellow scalliwag Scrum (Stephen Graham), the priest Philip (Sam Claflin), and mermaid Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisby), all conduct themselves fairly well, but are nowhere near as memorable as the secondary pirates and soldiers from the original trilogy. (Come on, Pintell and Ragetti, they were great fun!)

So, it’s all a big race to find the fountain. Blackbeard’s ship, the British (captained by Barbossa), and the Spanish who really only pop up momentarily every now and then. Who’ll get there first? Who will wind up performing the “ritual”? Who will wind up dead? It’s all so adventurous and mysterious…But, really while the questions and the action is supposed to be thrilling, a lot of it is bland or distracting with the 3-D effects. Though, I’ll admit the 3-D here was pretty well done. The trailers promised mermaids – who wind up being like weird vampires with fins – and zombies – who wind up being more like tattooed/pierced goons that are stab-proof or psychic.

I’m being tough on the movie. It’s good, passable fun. Depp, though nothing new is really discovered about Jack Sparrow, is still eternally watchable and there are some great moments – the escape from King George’s castle; a plot to steal something from the Spanish; and even learning about the strange powers Blackbeard has – which go beyond waving his sword to make the rigging on his ship come alive (let’s just say I’m keeping that spoiler bottled up.). But, from what I had been looking forward to in this new trek into the franchise, the movie fell short.

(Sorry about the weird little thing at the end of the trailer, below…I don’t make ’em, I just post ’em.)

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