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>> Monday, May 23, 2011

A fountain of maggots? Hardly...

The day before Pirates 4 was released, I stumbled upon a review via a recommendation from Roger Ebert. The link on Ebert's Facebook page directed me to what Ebert calls "The most negative review of any movie [he has] ever read". It was a review by Ali Arikan titled 'A Fountain of Maggots: Rob Marshall's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'. Although I had yet to see the movie at that point - I couldn't help but take a gander. That's not something I normally do by the way, for fear of an influence over my own opinion. Well, not that it spoils anything (as there are literally no details present in his review), but Arikan rips Jack Sparrow a new one. He goes on to say he walked out of the theatre because Pirates 4 was that bad. If anything, this only fueled my want to see the movie more. Was it going to be 'walk out' bad? Or was it going to be - as I would guess - disappointing? As it turns out, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and when it came to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, I actually liked it.

One argument Arikan brings up in his review is one I will definitely validate, much like Thor, Pirates 4 only exists to make money. Unlike Harry Potter, however, Pirates didn't necessarily need to have the sequel, either. So, why then did I like it? Because it was fun, less disappointing than something like Thor and I actually like the characters and the storyline based around the Fountain of Youth and eternal life - despite it being a tad tired by now.

The two most recognizable characters in Pirates 4 are (of course) Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Both do fine, as I would hope they've broken in these characters by now. In this chapter, they're joined by Angelica Malon (Penelope Cruz) and Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and as with Depp and Rush, both do just fine. The reason I bring the characters up here is because while watching this latest installment I finally realized why I hated the last two films - Dead Man's Chest and At World's End so much. There are a couple of reasons actually...

The first is because I realized I didn't really give two shits about the characters that the last two films seemed to center around - Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). Both kind of annoyed me and Sparrow may have been the mascot of those movies but always played second fiddle to Liz and Will's romance. The second thing I realized is that the last two flicks seemed to lack that sense of wonder and romantic endeavor the first had. In the first, Curse of the Black Pearl, Barbossa and his thugs were seeking a new form of life - and their journey had a desperate magic about it that complimented the tale of Jack Sparrow. Aside from all the fun everybody seems to have on screen here we get the magic back, we get the banter between Barbossa and Sparrow and best of all - we get the adventure.

I am giving Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides an open door. It reminded me of the first film, which was a huge surprise to us all when it was released in 2003 (especially when Depp gained an Oscar nod for his performance). In fact, I am going to say the only good thing to happen between The Black Pearl and this film was the eradication of the Swann/Turner storyline and the introduction of the plot for Stranger Tides. While it seems most people may disagree with me on this review (namely Arikan), I'll end by saying I had a lot of fun with this one and was pleasantly surprised and I may have to Arikan for that, actually.

*Stills courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures


Wendy June 2, 2011 at 12:29 AM  

Thanks for reviewing this one! I'm actually quite excited to see it. I've liked all of the Pirates movies so far, and I'm happy to hear that the Swann/Turner aspect is gone, as it annoyed me a bit too.

Plus... I mean c'mon... it's Johnny Depp!

Angry Charlie June 3, 2011 at 7:53 PM  

Well, I will admit Johnny Depp is a sexy fella! But over all, you're very welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :-D

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