Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pirates of the Caribean On Stranger Tides

     Removing Kiera Knightley from a Pirates of the Caribbean script is only beneficial if she is not replaced by Penelope Cruz. But alas, this was in fact the case. And I may add it did nothing to help the story at all. The idea that Pirates of the Caribbean The Curse of the Black Pearl was nominated for five Academy Awards in 2004 is hard to believe when one weighs the sequels in its wake. At first, the absence of Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley as the romantic plot vehicle seems to be a promising departure from the dreadful sequels Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, but instead the audience is dealt more of the same, barely packaged differently.

     As previously mentioned, the female lead is played by Penelope Cruz, taking the painfully convenient role of Blackbeard's daughter but serving no real purpose other than eye candy (which is maximally utilized). The idealistic and uneducated in the ways of the world demi-hero is played by an unknown whose name I have not bothered to look up. Even less may be said of the mermaids, the zombies (whose presence is barely even acknowledged), and all other newcomers to the story. The only exception is Ian McShane as Blackbeard who is possibly the most perfect depiction of the infamous scalawag ever to be seen onscreen.

     The biggest disappointments here are Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, and Rob Marshall. Depp is not doing himself any favors by continuing to reprise the role of Captain Jack Sparrow. Sparrow may always have another trick up his sleeve, but his vices are no longer surprising as he does all the same things he always does from ridiculous swordfights to theatrical escapes, but fails to pull any new rabbits out of the hat. Geoffrey Rush on the other hand tries to take a different angle to Captain Barbossa, but falls flat by overdoing pirate stereotypes right down to a recently acquired peg leg. For a director whose most recognizable credits include Chicago and Nine, it is a mystery why anyone thought Rob Marshall was a good idea to direct a Pirates movie. Innuendos abound in dialogue as well as imagery, and even a few fight scenes have a certain energy to them that seem likely to be found in one of Marshall's signature pieces.

     In the end, another sequel fails to live up to its first predecessor, but still lacks the courage to wrap up in any definitive way, just in case they make enough money to justify a part five. Or maybe the minds behind this fiasco are well aware that ideas for original movies are thin on the ground these days, so leaving the possibility open for a sequel seems reasonable, even responsible. But it will not do any good in the end if they keep producing things like this.


  1. ...perhaps in "these times of woe and want" (Goodman-O Brother Where Art Thou) Disney went for the easy bankable stock soup instead of risking money on something worthwhile...

    I could delve into the concept of dumb America liking dumbed down movies with lots of ...well you were nice enough to call it eye candy...but you know as well as I do T&A and sex always sell.

    I think Disney knew this would be a critical flop...and didn't care. They are swift becoming the L.A. Clippers of the movie world.

  2. And as always, I fully agree with your assessment and am sure you have plenty of worthy thoughts behind your nutshelled second paragraph. I have no doubt I would likely agree with those thoughts too.

    It may also be noted that the summer movie season depends highly on the unschooled mob having nothing to do but use movie theaters as their social substitute for the lunchroom. Therefore studios know they can get away with more inane driveling and less depth and quality, but not suffer too harshly. The studios aren't stupid-- they know their target audience will fork out the bucks, and every summer reinforces the philosophy.