Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Film Review – Pirates of the Caribbean : On Stranger Tides

Go read the reviews for this film elsewhere. All you will read is negativity. And I mean, HARSH negativity. One reviewer in particular equated the watching of this film to eating a biscuit filled with maggots. Last week Priest came out and there was nowhere near this level of vitriol. I really can’t understand it. I’m pretty serious when it comes to film analysis, I used to have aspirations of going through film school and all that jazz. But never in my life will you ever hear me devolve that far into hyperbole unless I am doing so ironically. I feel that when you get to that level of hatred over something so petty as a movie you lose all credibility as a reviewer. Especially considering that by the time you’ve written your little analogy the whole of your piece is more about your own prejudices and life experiences and any actual commentary about the merits of the movie are overshadowed by the reviewer’s baggage.

I’m not going to go so overboard in regards to reviewing this film. Because unlike what most reviewers have been claiming, this movie is really, really simple. What’s funny is that this time around they’ve returned to the quest-based narrative of the original film and people have supposedly been clamoring for that quite a lot during the last two movies where the story got so bloated and ridiculous. Streamlining the story and returning to the core elements that provided the structure for the success of the first film. Where the film falters however, is what the producers built on that foundation. There isn’t as much bombastic wonderment in On Stranger Tides as there was in Curse of the Black Pearl. I think the easiest way to compare and contrast is that in the original the fantasy elements were front and center in a way that drove the story forward whereas in this newest installment the narrative is played mostly straight with some fantasy elements thrown in that don’t ever seem to really matter all that much. Zombies, mermaids, possessed ship rigging, even the fountain of youth; all of them are woven into the plot fairly organically but they don’t have the sort of resonance that Barbossa’s curse did in the first film. They’re just there.

The other criticism I’ve heard thrown at the film is that everyone is just phoning in their performance. I don’t think that’s fair. By the time the fourth film rolls around everything that the main cast attempts is going to seem familiar. It’s just one of the pitfalls that happens when you have a successful franchise that hangs around this long. It’s not that anything is wrong with the performances it’s just that we’re trained to want something new but there’s not a whole lot that you can do with old characters at this point in the game. Even Blackbeard’s performance seems derivative of Ian McShane’s work on Deadwood. The thing that sinks this little ship is familiarity.

That isn’t to say the film isn’t good. It’s quite enjoyable. The 3D element doesn’t add much, admittedly, but it isn’t distracting like in lesser films like Clash of the Titans. I would say that overall the film doesn’t live up to the first film but it stand a little above the last two, just by virtue of the base elements working better than the bloated core of the past two sequels.

The main argument I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t really care what most of the reviewers are saying, it’s the sort of hyperbole that can be expected from those sort of people. I’m more honest. I think it was okay. There’s no crime in it being just okay. It’s a disappointment, sure, but not on the grand scale that the critical community is making it out to be. And that in itself is a bit a disappointment.

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