Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides - TheAnimationEmpire Movie Review

Unfortunately, I think Pirates4 was the worst of the series (I'll get right to it).

I suspect American agrees with me. Here's how the Pirates films faired stateside:

5/20/11 - Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - BV
$201,057,000 (US)

5/25/07 - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - BV
$309,420,425 (US)

7/7/06 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - BV
$423,315,812 (US)

7/9/03 - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - BV
$305,413,918 (US)

As you can see from above, Americans didn't like Pirates 4, they liked 1 and 3 about the same, and they liked Dead Man's Chest the best. I agree that Pirates 2 was good (although Black Pearl is my favorite). Pirates 2 introduced us to Davey Jones, it gave us a sword fight on a giant wheel, it furthered the sweeping romantic story, and it gave us a giant Kraken. It did its job well. (Whereas the third one was weird because it involved Hell being a desert, and it involved Jack Sparrow seeing several versions of himself, a weirdness that he seemed to have shaken off before the fourth movie.)

What was good about Pirates 4:

- Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow was as great as always.
- Geoffrey Rush's Captain Barbossa was a welcome returning character.
- The Mermaid stuff was excellent.

What was lacking:

1. The sweeping love story is gone. As much as I was excited to see Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley exit the series, I now see how they were necessary. They were not replaced well (a half-hearted attempt was made at making Penelope Cruz into a Jack Sparrow love interest and another attempt was made to build a romance between a priest and a mermaid that eerily ended in death). Without the epic romance, the story, energy, sense of purpose, and overall pacing of the movie was lacking.

2. The humor was gone. Jack was about as funny as usual, maybe a little less so. Mostly because he didn't really have any new material (he's done it all in the last three films). Also, in the first three films he wasn't relied on as the humor (he just complemented other key elements of humor). For example, the two bumbling pirates who were good for a laugh were gone. For some reason they were replaced with the annoying character from Snatch and someone said "we're good on the humor department" and gave up. Or something like that. =^)

Similarly, the cleverness was absent. I saw the skeleton in bed reference to the ride, but other than that, I don't really remember being impressed by clever writing as I did in the other three films. I'm counting this toward the humor aspect. The lack of humor also made the film start out slow (it took a long time before it became interesting).

3. The villains were weak. I love the blackbeard historical figure (I always wanted them to use him), and Ian McShane did a good job with it, but other than a briefly smoking beard (which is historically accurate and not taken in a cool and fantastical direction), which they seemed to forget about and stop doing, and other than him being able to control the ropes on ships and then bottle them up (a nice magical power that they never really explain or tie into anything useful), he just doesn't stack up. He's not the conniving evil British leaders we've grown to love, he's not an immortal who turns into a skeleton in the moon's light (Black Pearl), and he's not an immortal who controls the sea, controls the Kraken, and has a squid for a face (Davey Jones; hard to beat that).

And Penelope Cruz is barely better than Keira Knightley (and she comes without the romantic epic story to tie it all together). Plus the mysterious Spanish army is cool and seems to have their act together better than all the captains we actually see in the film. So their mystery is interesting, but their characters aren't all that cool or interesting, except for the fact that they keep coming back and having success and we're not quite sure why they're so good at it. The lack of interesting and cool villains also made the beginning move too slowly (it was awhile before we met Blackbeard, and he wasn't enough to spice it up very quickly).

4. The action and effects weren't quite there either. Sure, the mermaids were interesting (and a few minor water tricks), but there were no sword battles on giant wheels, no giant squids, no giant anything, no battles in storms (only one brief pirate ship battle in a mutiny), and no characters with special effects dripping off their faces.

In an age now where the blockbuster movies have to have effects that blow you away, this film was lacking. (Although people outside the US didn't seem to mind too much.) That might sound shallow, but simply said, we want to watch movies that are cool, and this one was missing that element. So the lack of action also made this movie move a little slower than the others.


Despite its shortcomings, the movie accomplished what it set out to do (thanks to folks outside the US)... make money.

Here are the movies with the World Wide stats included:

5/20/11 - Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - BV
$201,057,000 (US) - $831,744,000 (WW)

5/25/07 - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - BV
$309,420,425 (US) - $960,996,492 (WW)

7/7/06 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - BV
$423,315,812 (US) - $1,060,615,812 (WW)

7/9/03 - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - BV
$305,413,918 (US) - $658,311,224 (WW)

Looking at those stats above, non-Americans came to see it just as much as Pirates 2 and 3. It did much better than Pirates 1 overseas (which is normal that it takes the first film before the overseas market warms up to it more).

So will they make another Pirates movie? I think they should. They pretty much tied down the story of Pirates 4 without much room to continue it (my guess is because Johnny Depp wants out), but that can be a great reason to continue it. Without being tied to lackluster story of Pirates 4, they can try again and try to build out those elements that were lacking from this film: a sweeping romance, humor and cleverness, amazing villains, and better action sequences and effects.


- The Emperor

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