“Pirates” gets a little stranger
In order to understand my thoughts on the new Pirates of the Caribbean flick, here is a quick rundown on what I think of the “trilogy” overall. The first one was flawless in my opinion. The plot felt like a throwback to the ride, the characters themeselves were memorable, and it made a big impact on the pirate genre. But then things began to get a little wierd with the second one and much darker than the last with Davy Jones making a really good villian, but building to a sequel as opposed to a satisfying conculsion. “At World’s End” failed to resolve what happened to the Pirates film with a dragging pace and confusion among the plot. I felt with the sequels they tried to topple the epic and adventure of “Curse of the Black Pearl” and didn’t achive matching the power it had. While they weren’t too bad, they managed to be quite creative with what they had, yet lagging in making something simple and being too complex.
“Stranger Tides” takes a different turn and manages to bring a fresh start to the Pirates franchise. This time, Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack is made the leading character and feels more bolder than ever. This time, he has to reach a mystical element called the Foutain of Youth, before others manage to discover is. In the chase is Barbossa who is not only missing a leg, but is less of the villian he was. The spotlight this time is on Blackbeard (Ian McShane) who hopes to find it as well as remain forever youthfull. Ian’s Blackbeard doesn’t seem to leave much of an impact and plays as more of a laidback pirate rather then menacing and blood thirsty. He comes more off as a gentleman and not convincly frighting as most of Disney’s past villians.
At his side is Penelope Cruz playing Blackbeard’s daughter who has an ongoing love/hate relationship with Jack that is harder to make out than a Rubix cube. At times, the two seem to go against each other, but the chemistry between them works well with the never-ending theme of betrayle in the franchise. While the payoff to her character in the end appears harsh, Cruz comes off as likeable and probably a good addition to the tale of Captain Jack.
Aside from new faces, things start to tred water with the complexity of the plot comes into play as they have to locate two cups from a treasure room to use for the foutain. However, there is more to it as Blackbeard and the gang go “literally” fishing for mermaids, for their tears are the secret ingreident to make the process work. If that wasn’t enough, they capture one of the sirens that proves to be hard to deal with and begins to have a blossoming love story with the ship’s missionary, which feels like something for another movie. Again, simplify the complex. It’s not a hard thing to do in writing or editing.
But going back a bit, the mermaids are not what you think. This is far different from seeing a cute Ariel on the big screen. Here, these beautiful fish are a milestone as they break the mold from the cutsey stereotype who know today and sticks to its brutal origins. I can’t spoil much about these fiery flounders expect that, in my opinion, they are the most intense and frightening thing to ever come in the Pirates films, but I like it.
However, aside from the goods, there are a few other flaws that surface such as the addition of a group of Spanish explorers that also get caught in the mix. Time is spent between Jack treking with Blackbeard and Barbossa racing to the finish line, the viewer looses track or remembers them until the final act of the picture. They didn’t leave that much of an impact and once they make their purpose known, they literally leave the movie. If they were that important, why not make their presence key as opposed to dumbing them down.
Aside from all that, “Stranger Tides” feels like a new chapter into the Pirates franchise that almost makes the second and third appear like it never happened. Aside from one or two problems, it plays itself safe and keeps the viewer entranced with its siren song and captures the spirit of the first rather than dominating it. For those who have wished for a new start to the franchise, this is that film. But for those who feel they should sink this series, I’d play it safe and wait to rent it if you are that squeemish.