Watched May 21, 2011
Mackenzie Snow’s review:
...otherwise known as "The Pirate Movie with the Mermaids".
Because the highlight of the movie is pretty much the mermaids. I mean, this is a movie that inspired the entire Kurtofsky pirate ship to write fics about Kurt and/or Dave as a merman (merboy?) and a pirate in love. That kind of influence means that everybody loved the mermaids although they've made me swear off eating fish in general. (What is it about Pirates movies that always turn me off from eating seafood after watching them?)
Seriously speaking, though, I am highly ecstatic to be watching this movie. I'm the biggest Pirates fan out there. Even when everybody hated Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, I still loved them (the movies did have problems, but they're still so freaking awesome that I just didn't care). I'm also an avid enthusiast of anything produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, so I admit I'm a little biased but... damn, I do love the Pirates movies. I didn't think I'd ever see Pirates 4 get made and I was really worried the movie would lose its charm after Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom no longer became part of it. But as it turned out, I had nothing to really worry about because the movie was just as fun and cool as the first three were.
I wasn't sure how I felt when I discovered Gore Verbinski wasn't going to direct it anymore. And instead, the guy who previously did movie musicals (Rob Marshall) was taking over. It was like Narnia all over again - I doubted anyone could match Verbinski's vision for the franchise but, again, I had nothing to worry about. I guess, as long as Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio are still writing the story, I'd still like it in a way.
That is not to say that there weren't a few disappointments. The biggest one would be the lack of the Black Pearl in the storyline. The ship was missing for the entire film and I just felt weird not seeing it. I'm sure there's a production backstory involved with its absence but as a hardcore fan of the movie, I still missed it. Along with the Black Pearl, Pintel and Raggetti - that ragtag duo that never failed to make me laugh - were also missing. Jack the monkey was also notably missing... *sigh*
On top of it all, the biggest thing that was missing was Jack Sparrow's lack of wiliness. He seems to have undergone a massive moral revolution within himself. Sure he was still funny and occasionally snarky. He's also still a lot crazy but it's quite clear that he's become more caring and less egotistical. Perhaps this is good for some people, but I'm on Team Manipulative!Sparrow so I was missing that side of him for the entire movie. Very much. I kept feeling like I wanted to scream, "Give me back my old Jack Sparrow!"
Luckily, there was Hector Barbossa to save the day. This movie, for me, was essentially Barbossa's story. It's the story of triumphant return, from having lost the Pearl to Blackbeard, to finally getting his own brand new crew of miscreants. I loved the Evil Barbossa from the first movie - although I never thought he was truly evil - and I was glad to see him in that light again in this movie. And Geoffrey Rush... is just... so... FLAWLESS. He's a fine, fine actor. I mean, what can he not do? I'm sure if he were to play a geisha girl for real - kimono and all - he would've charmed me entirely. He's, like, one of the best actors still working in Hollywood today. I'm just so in awe of his talent and skill every time he comes on screen. There really is no one else like him.
(Doesn't hurt that Sparrow and Barbossa have a few bromantic moments as well... that really, really helped in making me like Jack Sparrow despite his lack of manipulativeness.)
Also, you might never hear me say this again, but I surprisingly tolerated Penelope Cruz in this movie. She made a fine foil to Johnny Depp's Sparrow as Blackbeard's daughter Angelica. I don't know if her character was meant to be funny but I thought she provided some nice comedic moments that churned my stomach with laughter. I guess she wasn't meant to be a comic relief (which could mean her acting bad if she made me laugh inappropriately) but I just liked her in this silly Lady Pirate character. She's badass in the way Keira Knightley in the first two movies never was. Elizabeth Swann always had that kind of 'dainty English rose' quality to her and a kind of vulnerability that always showed until the very end, even when she was fighting Davy Jones' army with a sword. But Angelica... now she's kick-ass from the beginning and maintained her she-devil aura until the end. I'm not gonna lie: I LIKE THIS.
It is quite obvious, though, that the writers and filmmakers didn't want to pin their hopes for the creation of epic romance a la Will-Elizabeth on just Jack Sparrow and Angelica, so this is where the handsome but somewhat unnecessary character of Phillip Swift comes in. Played by the young and soon-to-be-rising-star Sam Claflin (seriously, he's probably going to be the Hot New Young Brit of 2012; will be starring alongside Chris Hemsworth in Snow White and the Huntsman), Phillip is that earnest, do-gooder, heroic young male that is highly reminiscent of Will Turner, albeit in a smaller role than his predecessor. I like the idea that he's a missionary priest (I think) and yet cannot help but loving the mermaid that got captured by Blackbeard & Co. I have no idea what happened to him in the end but I think he got his happy ending with the mermaid Syrena.
The combination of that bittersweet love story between Phillip and Syrena and their extreme good looks is the blatant replacement for the Will-Lizzie romance that's missing from the fourth movie. And to be honest, I kind of like theirs better... Will and Elizabeth could be a lot melodramatic, but Phillip and Syrena's story are much more brief, to the point and yet it was also more poignant. Theirs was like a punch in the gut: over in a flash but you feel it a lot more in the coming days. That's why I think Pirates 4 still managed to do well in the end despite whatever shortcomings it may have. As long as there are eye candies who are in love/lust with each other, it'll still sell. That is definitely the case with Pirates 4.
Of course this latest Pirates installment has a lot more going than that. I find that the action is just as fun, if not as spectacular, as the previous 2 movies. The banters are just as entertaining (again, I must stress here that Sparrow and Barbossa have some very awesome bromantic conversations together) and you even get the bonus of Jack Sparrow making more sense than he did in the third movie. You have the exciting cameos of Richard Griffiths and Keith Richards, as well as Ian McShane in his villainy epicness. You also get plenty of cool CG stuff that resulted in believable mermaids... and you get eye candies like Claflin and Damian O'Hare.
(In case you don't know, Damian O'Hare plays Gillette, Jack Davenport's Commodor Norrington's lieutenant from the first Pirates movie. You know - he was that chap who was always standing next to Jack Davenport and wearing a wig. For some mysterious reasons, his character wasn't written in the second and third movies, but he has somehow made a comeback in this fourth one playing... Barbossa's lieutenant. How bizarre. But very welcome as he is rather dashing in his British naval officer uniform. We even got to see him without a wig in the end!)
I wouldn't say Pirates 4 is the best movie in the franchise but I think it'll appease the fans' longing to see Jack Sparrow & Co. in action again. The hardcore fans will definitely appreciate seeing their favorite characters again and the casual fans will benefit from not having a headache while trying to follow the story. Either way, the movie's a great source of entertainment this summer and if you like swashbuckling action adventure type movies at all, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will entertain you.