Review Friday: Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides

03 Jun

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies started out really good and then got progressively worse as the second and third movies were made. The first one was super awesome, the second one not so much, the third one… meh, it was okay. And then they decided to make a forth one. This could either go really well or really poorly. They got rid of two of the main characters, for good reason, of course, and what we have left is Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow and really, what more do you really need?

I’m not entirely sure why this one is called ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ since it doesn’t take place there, but I guess they had to stick with the name. This movies starts out in London where everyone and their mother is after the Fountain of Youth. Jack’s got the map and is brought before King George to be recruited to the kings service and find the fountain of Youth for him before the Spanish do. Barbossa, who is now sporting a fancy wooden leg, has already signed up as a privateer and will be heading the expedition. Naturally, Jack’s not too keen on stooping to work for the king so, escapes are in order and off he goes. Mean while someone has been impersonating him to gather a crew. Let’s find out who it is.

Turns out it’s a girl by the name of Angelica whom Jack used to have… stirrings for. Long story short he used her and left her, or something like that. It’s never really made clear what happened between them. We get that she was about to become a nun when Jack turned her into a pirate but after that we have no idea what went on. At any rate turns out she’s the daughter of Blackbeard and they need Jack to take them to the Fountain of Youth so that they can save Blackbeard from some prophesy that says he will be killed by a one legged man. So now we have a three way race between the British, the Spanish and the Pirates. Sounds like fun, right?

So first things first, we need a mermaid tear. Mermaids are apparently man eating, though and thus are kind of hard to catch. This is where we get our kind of random side plot. On board the Queen Anne’s Revenge is a bible thumper by the name of Philip who is being kept around by Angelica in the hopes that he can somehow save Blackbeard’s soul, or something. Somehow he’s the one who happens to be the one to catch the mermaid, though he regrets it as soon as he does. Somehow he falls in love with her and names her Syrena or maybe her name is Syrena and I just missed her telling him her name… then again I didn’t know his name until the end either, so whatever. Point is, sometimes we get to see little bits of them doing stuff, and then it’s over and we move on. It’s kind of cute, but also kind of pointless. It feels like it should have been more of its own thing, rather than smushed in with the pirates movie. Anyway, there’s that. They get her tear and move on. Barbossa doesn’t have so much luck with the mermaids but that’s okay, he’s not really after the Fountain anyway.

They get two silver chalices from the ship of Postillion which have already been taken by the Spanish which leads to some sneak attempts and some more epic escapes. Through some crazy magicy stuff they get to the Fountain of Youth about the same time as Barbossa and the Spanish. Barbossa isn’t interested in the Fountain but in killing Blackbeard because he stole the Black Pearl and Barbossa’s leg along with it. The Spanish aren’t interested in the Fountain for its life giving stuff but rather in destroying it because ‘only God can give life.’ And so epic fighting occurs, Barbossa stabs Blackbeard and runs off with his crew, Angelica cuts herself on a poisoned sword and now it’s up to Jack to save one of them. Wanna guess who he saves? He tricks Blackbeard into giving his life for Angelica and then dumps her on the island from the first movie with one pistol and one shot, which she waists shooting at him.

So how does this movie compare to the other three? Well, it’s better than two and three, I can tell you that. I much prefer self contained stories. It didn’t have Will and Elizabeth in it, who were both kind of annoying, so not a huge loss. All we really care about is seeing Johnny Depp being badass anyway. Story wise, it wasn’t as good as the first movie, but it wasn’t that bad. Still the romance was kind of weak, the side plot was sort of dumb, and the battles weren’t nearly as epic as they were in the last movie. But you know what? I got to watch Johnny Depp kick some Spanish butt, so I’m happy. It’s just weird watching Captain Jack Sparrow act as a sort of middle man. He’s not really working for himself in this film, he’s helping Angelica, and at one point Barbossa and it’s really just weird. In the first three he had his own agendas to fill; killing Barbossa, taking back the Black Pearl, saving his soul from Davy Jones, killing Davy Jones and so on. In this one… yeah he wants the Fountain but he’s not really that into it, it seems. He kind of knows he’s not going to get to drink the water and it’s just like, meh, I’ll do this for you cause I kind of screwed you over. He’s not as badass in this one as he was in the first, but he’s still Captain Jack Sparrow.

The character of Angelica was a hard one to read. We don’t know that much about her other than she was almost a nun, she’s Blackbeard’s daughter, she wants to save him and Jack loved her and left her and that’s about it. She claims it’s because she wants a father, but her loyalty to her new found father confuses me. He sees her as nothing more than a pawn to be used. So why does she feel as if she owes him something? At any rate, she goes from liking Jack to hating him, to being indifferent to him, to distrusting him and back and forth and so on. At the end it’s rather pathetic as she tries to get Jack to take her with him off the island. She pulls all of the most predictable movies. “Jack I’m pregnant, Jack I love you, Jack you’re a coward, don’t leave me, *yells in Spanish*” It’s just sad really. She was supposed to be this manipulative mastermind and yet she can’t even get Jack to stop and consider taking her back? She’s super pissed at him too for saving her life. Nice girl, really. I don’t know, she wasn’t all bad, but she wasn’t a great character either.

Blackbeard was just your average pirate, really. Nothing terribly special about him. He acted as you expected a Pirate to act only in a very calm, unemotional way. Philip on the other hand was very passionate and not quite as much of a dumbass as he could have been. I guess he couldn’t help falling in love with a mermaid. The one thing about that romance that kind of bugged me was at the end Syrena offered to save him if he asked and then kissed him and dragged him down into the water with her. While maybe this ambiguous ending is for the best, it still kind of bugged me because I was rather invested in these characters and now they’re just kind of gone. Were they truly in love? Was Syrene just a really clever mermaid using Philip to get away? She helps Jack out at the end so I’m not entirely sure what’s up with that. It’s just kind of random.  Anyway, I would have liked to see either more or less of their thing. Maybe if we’d seen less of them the ending wouldn’t have bothered me so much.

So there you have it. The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. And guess what? I can now spell the word Caribbean! Isn’t that nice? Meh, anyway, I really liked the movie, even if it was a little funky. Was it as good as the others? Maybe not. But it was still a fun movie and perhaps a high point for them to fall from while making the next two.

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Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Reviews


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