Sunday, May 22, 2011
Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides
Today I saw Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides. Having just watched the prior three films again, my sons and I had reviewed the dynamics of who had betrayed who, and we were ready for whatever twists and turns the director might throw at us. At the end of film III, William Turner (Orlando Bloom) had just been made captain of the Flying Dutchman (having had his heart carved out of his chest and placed in a box), relieving Davy Jones of this duty. Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) was the pirate King, and was somewhat at a loss, what with her father the governor dead, and her newly wedded husband dispatched to ferry the souls of the dead. Not much of a prospect for a new bride. I was interested in seeing how their stories would continue. We were sorely disappointed. They do not even appear in film IV (Hollywood contracting difficulties?).
Instead we have Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush), Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Edward Teach – Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his "daughter" Angelica (Penelope Cruz), and the Spaniards, competing to get to the Fountain of Youth. The film has action but it lacks the emotion and conviction of the earlier entries in the series. Not even the Fountain of Youth provides much incentive as an adventure goal: to gain years, you have to sacrifice a victim, thereby gaining whatever remaining years that person would have had. Plus the spell requires a mermaid's tear to make it work. Harvesting mermaids' tears is easier said than done, let me tell you. But then maybe that is the point: To illustrate that the desire for eternal youth is illusory. The cost exacted in terms of struggle and sacrifice is not compensated by what finally amounts to very little gain. That's not bad as a message, but it is a bit disappointing as the pretext for an action flick. The Pirates franchise might be on its last (wooden) legs.