Friday, 10 June 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

On slowing tides...

On the way to hopefully finding the fountain of youth, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) finds himself in a dire predicament when he is captured by his ex-lover Angelica (Penélope Cruz )and the nefarious Blackbeard (Ian McShane). They require Jack's help in finding the fountain in order to save Blackbeard while trying to avoid the clutches of Barbossa (Gerofery Rush).

As a sequel to the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, On Stranger Tides attempts to refresh the series by concentrating on an uncomplicated narrative. Instead, the film takes a page out of the original film in the series but not quite as successfully. There are a few plots being weaved together but they all come up short in execution which ultimately threatens the potential of various associated characters. The core reason is due to the lack of detailed exposition. The most problematic of these is the love story between Philip (Sam Claflin) and the mermaid Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) which is evidently undeveloped and unimportant to the overall narrative. Their growing love lacks tangibility and it becomes frustrating when their conclusion becomes a guessing game for the audience. There are various plots developed but they are underwhelming and this hurts the film as the action sequences alone cannot stop the odd scene from dragging along. For the most part the film is a fun watch but just not a particularly great one.

The acting is passable enough as Depp and Rush convey their characters in a similar fashion to older films. Cruz and McShane add positively to the cast with the former bringing some zest to the film while the latter does bring the expected arrogance to Blackbeard. Claflin and Berges-Frisbey are not able to be quite as convincing. However, this is mostly due to their limited capacity in the film, which comes from the limited nature of their respective plot on the overall narrative of the film. On Stranger Tides also sports a far less noticeable and capable supporting cast when compared to the original trilogy which is disappointing, so the chance to offset the major situations in the film to the lesser cast is next to impossible.

There is an extensive use of CG throughout the film and predominately with good results. What is a strange decision is to have a large portion of the film shrouded in darkness. A lot of the film deals with enlightenment, either by faith or common humanity, but the filmmakers attempt to ensure you do not feel the same way as the lack of visibility can, at times, hinder the viewing experience.

The film contains no sex though the mermaids are clearly naked even though nothing explicit is shown. Language is mild at best as it is more in the name-calling variant. Violence comes in a variety of forms but deaths are mostly tame.

On Stranger Tides appears as a semi-reboot of the series, being more in liking with the original film and therefore losing the unnecessary scale At Worlds End attempted to provide. But the simplification has gone perhaps a little too far with a thin narrative and a thin cast of characters that ultimately fail to ignite. At its best, On Stranger Tides has everything that made the franchise good, but these moments are never frequent enough or long lasting making the film like spotting a mermaid: if you blink it will most likely be gone; and that just may well be a good thing.


Screen date: 20 May 2011
Release date: 20 May 2011

1 comment:

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