Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides

 Well I guess by the looks of it that little ol' New Zealand is one the first in the big wide world to see the new instalment of the Pirates franchise! I must admit to being sceptical of another outing. Sure the first three have been extremely popular, not to mention lucre..oops...lucrative, but somehow a fourth instalment felt like nothing more than lucre...oops, a money grab whilst the chips were hot.

 I must admit to liking the first three movies, and admit again to their entertainment value. But today it seems an obligation to keep a franchise going for all its lucre...oops, worth. I'm not dumb and realise studios need lucre...oops, money to keep in the square, but getting to point of flogging, in this case a dying horse, isn't the answer. I feel On Stranger Tides is one 'tide' too far and if anymore are 'floated' onto us they are going to get gradually worse as Disney tries to squeeze as much lucre...oops, money out of us. Studios aren't stupid and realise humans have a sheep like tendency to follow. They know that once a franchise is popular patrons will keep going in the hope the next one will be better than the last...and parting with their lucre...oops, cash in the process.

 So in effect On Stranger Tides is like the recently screened Scream 4 ( Shrek 4 was the same. A good idea taken up to its limit, and fortunately now let go ). Fun, and entertaining, but somehow the feeling of the toast being too thinly spread with butter prevailed. I enjoyed myself and had some good laughs, but ulimately it felt like it had all been done before. I do think, no, I fervently hope Disney wake and leave the franchise alone now. Like the creaking of the Pirate ships themselves after this outing the franchise sounds the same way. All I can say is I hope Disney let it go now and let the franchise go in good memory instead of becoming a lucre...oops, laughing stock. Deep down I know it isn't going to happen and we all know where it is going to lead don't we?

 Johnny Depp has himself said he wants to make more Pirates movies. He would wouldn't he after all the lucre...oops, 'salary' he would recieve out of it. I know I'm sounding repetitive but this is a really bug bear of mine as I've seen too many franchises go on too long. What happens is any of the movies that were any good are judged against all those that are bad. Lucre...and no oops needed now, is the all important factor and not quality.

 I think most pre-release talk has been how the story could be furthered without becoming daft. I feel it has gone as far as it can go. As stated I feel this felt 'thin', and done before. And in all reality I'll keep coming back to this point. Visually there was nothing new and in fact this outing wasn't as spectacular as the first three. The makers running out of ideas prehaps? There are the obligatory sword fights, but again they could have been lifted from any of the three preceeding movies. They felt cliqued as the theme music blared in my ears and I felt some what bored.

 If you read my Burke and Hare review, and then my Doctor Zhivago one, you'll have seen how I contrasted the use of CGI with real props. In Stranger Tides I couldn't help but make the contrast again. As I watch more and more CGI the less I like it. Some is magnificent. But after seeing Doctor Zhivago and the sets of Moscow streets, etc, the CGI of London in Stranger Tides looked lame. I honestly believe hand made props look far better. It really has been instructive to me to see two of the greatest films ever made and contrast them against todays movies. I'm afarid there is no competition!! David Lean eat your heart out as you make the Pirates franchise look bloody silly!!!

 The only real highlight for me were the mermaids. They were original and I sat up straight in my seat saying ' This is new'. The scene with them is the best part of the movie as everthing else is just all too familiar. Even having new faces can't rescue the feeling either. Keith Richards is as appalling as ever, but Depp and Rush are their usual professional selves. But no matter how good they are a thin script can't be glossed over with good acting. Ian Mcshane plays Blackbeard, the pirate feared by all pirates. Now I'm a real McShane fan ever since his Lovejoy days. But as a mean bad assed pirate he didn't convince me. He just wasn't bad or evil enough. Again the feeling of the script writers running out of ideas was prevelant. They just couldn't squeeze enough out of Blackbeard as a character.

 I can't stand Penlope Cruz. Big tits don't make an actress I'm afraid! The problem here is they have tried to make her appear like Keira Kneightly. I think this was a mistake. They should have given Cruz a break and have her appear as a more stand alone character. She puts in a reasonable performance but Kneightly's character was on her like a shadow which was unfair to Cruz.

 This is also the first Pirates movie to be offered in 3-D. I can't help but feel this is a gimmick to divert critism from a fourth outing. For me it was like reading between the lines as the makers search for some way to justify a fourth outing. It is almost like they know it shouldn't have been made but we'll deflect critisim by offering something new ( 3-D ) when in reality the movie itself offers nothing new at all. I really didn't see anything that 3-D would enhance to make me want to fork out extra to wear a set of un-comfortable glasses for two hours. I'm not a fan at all of 3-D and refuse to pay extra to see any movie in that format. Interestingly my local cinema has just got a new 3-D camera and this is the very first movie to be played here in 3-D.

 Overall On Stranger Tides falls victim to its critisim. One too far. It is entertaining but it just felt like just another Pirates movie. Besides the mermaids there is nothing new or spectacular here. 3-D isn't going to save it, as it is a red herring from Disney in trying to offer up the familiar with a new gimmick to it. I'm sure this will race to number one in the box offices around the world, but that won't make it any better. All it does is show how we are all sheep and keep following the same old worn paths.

 Nothing new, nothing original, all been done before. Lucre...lucre is its only aim I'm afraid. As I watched the cracks were almost visble as the makers stretched it all too thinly. But at the end of the day it is far from bad. Go and enjoy yourselfs! I did for all my critisims. But I hope I have critiqued it fairly and honestly.  It is definitely worth a trip to the theatre to see and is far superior to some of the garbage I've endured recently. Enjoyable, but looking a bit tired on it. Let it go now Disney before you completely ruin a previously good thing.

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  1. Sounds pretty close to what I was expecting, so not a huge shock. I'll be giving it a whirl this weekend expectations are fairly neutral, so we'll see if I find anything outside of the expected to enjoy.

  2. By the way I'm in total agreement about CGI, while there are some films that just aren't possible without it nowaday. Practical sets are so much better but since CGI is so much cheaper it's just not going to go away, a real shame.

  3. I am going to see this at midnight today (not by choice) and so I am not expecting it to be too great. Hopefully I can find it enjoyable. Great review!

  4. Absolutely Daniel. CGI took over because of its realitive cheapness. But it can appear god awful on the big screen and some of what I have seem recently has made me cringe at how fake it looks.

    Matt. It is enjoyable to be sure. Entertaining no brainer.

  5. Great detail here. I couldn't make it through the last Pirates film after leaving the second scratching my head. I will be surprised to see this one ever...

  6. be honest if you never see it then you haven't really missed much.

  7. I agree with everything you have said (which is becoming the norm!) to the extent I am glad I wrote mine before I read yours or else I would have copied and pasted ;-)

    We refused to see this in 3D as I went in with a negative attitude and the 3D would only have enhanced my willingness to hate this film.

    The mermaids were fantastic which is a shame they had the least amount of screen time of them all.

    Entertaining but completely unremarkable.

  8. Absolutely!! The mermaids were the highlight!! I've read elsewhere that others like them too. The rest has been done before. It really is time to put the franchise to bed I'm afraid.