Friday, May 20, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates 4 should likely have been titled "Scavengers of the Florida Marshlands," as the Spanish historically believed that the Fountain of Youth was there. Additionally the first part of the film prior to reaching this area is incredibly dull. There is no ship combat throughout the entire film and there's about 45 minutes of exposition that could have been cut down to 5-10. One thing I always liked about the first couple of movies was the speedy transition between expository scenes, always with a good deal of humor and action throughout. This film fails pretty terribly in comparison, as there's about 20-25 minutes aboard a few ships wherein nothing occurs apart from sailing and more character introductions.

The director of this film must have wanted to introduce his characters in the weirdest ways possible and line them up as though it would be humorous, unfortunately only a couple of them are even slightly better than yawn-inducing. While Pirates is sort of known for having convoluted plots that wind up going nowhere and plenty of different factions you could cut out one of the factions entirely and make this film a lot more brisk and entertaining than the present 2 hours and 20 minute length. Humorously enough I believe it is the shortest of the Pirates movies but it feels almost as painfully slow as the third installment.

When the factions start landing at "White Cap Bay" and encounter the Mermaids the film finally starts to get more interesting. The best action scene in the film follows and for the rest of the film it is both more humorous and entertaining. Johnny Depp is still pretty good as Jack Sparrow and Blackbeard (when he finally actually does something) isn't too bad either. Barbossa is oddly placed as comic relief though I guess he's deemed relevant by the in film prophecy. I actually liked Geoffrey Rush in the very first film as an entertaining and reasonably creative villain, and while his character arc isn't as interesting anymore he's still reasonably fun to watch. The priest in the film had a great deal of potential for being a great character but ultimately falls short by the end.

The 3 primary factions in the film are the Spanish, the English (led by Barbossa), and Blackbeard's crew. Jack wanders between the latter two but obviously acts in his own interest throughout. When the factions clash it makes for brief yet vaguely entertaining action scenes, but the Spanish who are first introduced in a fairly lengthy scene have absolutely no impact on the plot by the end of the film. They don't fight in naval combat, they don't really attempt to kill Blackbeard or Barbossa, and while they do something in the final scene it doesn't actually affect the end result in the slightest. They are completely irrelevant, humorless, and worthless in every way.

This film is about an hour and a half of good action scenes and humorous plot sequences with 50 minutes of exposition and padding, if they managed to cut out the 50 minutes and replace it with another 20 minutes of good action then this would be just about as good as the second film (perhaps slightly worse). As it stands it is still much better than At World's End but substantially worse than Thor. It might be the worst of the 6 or 7 movies I see in the next 3 months but there's no way it's worse than Transformers is going to be.

Final Score: 7/10

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