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.


New York Girl said...

I liked the emotional "truth" that came out between Blackbeard and his daughter. Her father was ruthless and selfish but she still loved him. I know what you mean about the mermaids. The story between the preacher and the mermaid was interesting and it will be nice to see what they will do with the story if they revive it. The third pirates movie was good but the whole part with Chow Yun Phat and his crew should have been on the editors floor. It was an unnecessary storyline that was more for the actor than the franchise. Editing was better this time around. Pirates 4 was entertaining and Johnny Depp was in it. What more can I say...

Leslie Carmichael said...

Johnny Depp delivered and was as charmingly swishy as ever, but he didn't seem to have as much to work with in this movie.
The emotional truth, hmmmm…. Maybe I'm just getting old and cynical here, but I am not convinced that Angelica really is Blackbeard's daughter, or what her motives might be.
I liked the fact that the fate of the minister is deliberately left unresolved. My boys figured he was fish food. I can't claim to have much knowledge of the ways of mermaids, but it did not appear that their nature would be inclined to soften. Not that the nature of mankind is much better. Of course, both Philip and Syrena tell each other, "You are not like the others," so maybe there is hope. They might have to live on land. I can't a man being happy in a relationship with a female whose idea of a hot time consists of laying her eggs on the ocean floor, and then having him spread his seed over them. Interesting how we are introduced to the notion that her fins will become legs when she is on land, a la Little Mermaid, who also sets a precedent for not being ruthless.
Apropos of nothing, I loved the cameo by Judi Dench.