Posted August 31, 2010 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Films
 
 

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides


There was a sombre shadow cast across the audiences of Pirates of the Caribbean 3: Dead Man’s Chest as they left the theatre. It could have been mourning, it could have been disappointment, or the simple overwhelming sense of confusion as to what had happened with the last two and a half hours of their lives.

There was a sombre shadow cast across the audiences of Pirates of the Caribbean 3: Dead Man’s Chest as they left the theatre. It could have been mourning, it could have been disappointment, or the simple overwhelming sense of confusion as to what had happened with the last two and a half hours of their lives. Whatever you took away from the alleged final instalment in the swashbuckling franchise it certainly hailed the end to Cap’n Jack and his posse. The plot had run dry half way through the 2nd film, the supporting characters had lost all dimension and the script became a series of arghs and slurs with not much filler in between. The only thing carrying Pirates to any credibility was a drunken British pirate with an air of the Rolling Stones and a love for the rum.

As long as Jonny Depp was willing Disney would court him till he’d had enough, and apparently there’s still some milage in the relationship as the questionable On Stranger Tides began hasty production. Bloom and Knightley wisely avoided the limelight in favour of the west end and parenthood, leaving the weight of the tides rightly on the shoulders of Sparrow.

Only Rush remains of the original main ensemble as Barbossa, joining Jack in the pursuit of the fountain of youth and its promise of eternal life. Penelope Cruz is love interest Angelica cheating Sparrow at his own game and Ian McShane is the infamous Blackbeard, a cruel and cursed pirate bent on living for all eternity.

The new Keira and Orlando are a priest (former Norwich City player Sam Claflin) and a mermaid (newcomer Astrid Berges-Frisbey,) not that you remember their purpose for too long as it’s apparent from the first few scenes that these people are here to be beautiful and not much else. Accompanied by a cast peppered with British C listers, opposing sides set on an overly familiar quest for a trophy no one really cares about for motives that seem to change every few minutes. Allies swap sides too many times to keep count and mermaids and the Spanish navy prove fleeting obstacles to the final showdown unlike Tom Hollander’s Beckett or Jack Davenport’s Norrington.

And yet director Rob Marshall never loses sight of the prize. Depp is nothing short of flawless with the material provided, dodging peril with a poetic manner that few can muster. It’s the perfect role and as always Depp seems to enjoy himself immensely filling it, hogging the spotlight even during the story’s bizarre sub plots. The action sequences in turn are well executed, with Bruckheimer handling familiar territory expertly. The mermaids in particular bring a fresh twist the quest, and it’s a shame the film is so bloated with complicated narratives bashing into each other otherwise the battles would be much more effective.

The final sequences take place within a backdrop so stunning it drives, quite happily perhaps, away from the fate of the central characters, as Sparrow, Blackbeard and Barbossa slug it out for the fountain’s limited supply. Cruz is typically brazen in her role of tricking Jack in spite of her blatant failure to resist his charm, and the pair’s chemistry is fun to watch if a little complicated.

Fans of Jack Sparrow will be disappointed with the lack of screen time given to the disorientated captain and general theatre goers will be annoyed at the two hours that have given little back other than a mild buzz and a few decent fights. There’s promise here but thanks to a plot that runs circles around itself On Stranger Tides hails a mediocre start to the blockbuster season.


Marcia Degia - Publisher

 
Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.