Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Reviewed

Why are Pirates of the Caribbean sequels always such a big load of shit? I don’t know, they just arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!
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Ok, well first of all, it seems that when you’re writing about a Pirates of the Caribbean film it’s basically obligatory to crowbar as many seafaring puns into your review as humanely possible. I’m going to get mine out the way early, if that’s all right?

* I wouldn’t bother going to SEA the film if I were you…

* It’s time for this franchise to walk the plank!

* Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of dumb(ed down entertainment)!

* I harbour doubts about the quality of the script!!

* Such-and-such’s acting is as wooden as his leg!!

* Skull and Crossbones? Dull and Dross Groans more like!!

Um, something about scurvy!!!

And in more land-based terminology: well, it’s just a bit rubbish really. Which is a shame as I loved the first film and was really hoping this one would recapture the excitement of the original. Sadly that wasn’t to be. The main problem with it, I think, is that it’s much much too long.

* At nearly two and a half hours, it puts the long in Long John Silver!

Stop that. STOP THAT!

On paper at least, the plot is pretty simple. Johnny Depp’s legendary prancing pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, goes off on an epic voyage across the high seas in search of some manner of magic thing (hang on, I’ve got this written down somewhere.. oh yeah it’s The Fountain of Eternal Youth). Hot on his trail is the infamous buccaneer Blackbeard and his beautiful but treacherous daughter Angelica. Hot on their trail are the entire British and Spanish navies, who each want the Fountain for themselves. Fine.

Sadly, he doesn’t say the phrase “tell them whores to get to fucking” anywhere near as much as I’d hoped he would though.

The problem is that there are so many twists and turns in the plot - so many double crosses, triple crosses, unlikely alliances which are then broken again - that you basically have no idea who’s on who’s side and what anyone is trying to achieve. And you don’t really care. The whole thing becomes like a massive chaotic game of playground football, where nobody knows what the teams are and instead are just kicking each other in the shins.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments. Depp is as brilliant as ever and there are some spectacularly bombastic action sequences, now in 3D. The best bit is the scene involving an army of ferocious killer mermaids (a combination of the two most terrifying creatures in existence: women! And fish!!) Unlike previous Hollywood depictions, which tend to show mermaids as meek and kindly figures who like kissing Tom Hanks, the ones in this film are fucking mentalists! They draw any nearby sailors under their spell with their immense unworldly beauty and then rip their flesh clean off the bone with vicious razor-sharp teeth. Basically, imagine an advert for Chanel No.5 that ends with the model biting your face off.

There have been quite a few cast changes since the last film. Knightley’s out, as is Orlando Bloom. Replacing him in the good-looking-bad-at-acting-and-essentially-a-bit-boring role is Sam Clafin as a buff missionary priest. His main contribution seems to be taking his shirt off a lot and whining on about how immoral everything is. He also gives Depp the opportunity to make the joke; “I support the missionary’s position” which surprisingly managed to get past the Disney censors. Later in the film Clafin becomes embroiled in an unlikely love affair with one of the mermaids, played by the elaborately named Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey (lol). I think this is an attempt to create a kind of inverse Twilight scenario where she must overcome her natural impulse to kill him so she can follow her heart. Also, as in Twilight, the star-crossed lovers are tragically unable to physically consummate their relationship – he; wedded to the church and so sworn to celibacy and she; not really having a vagina..

Also in the new line-up is Penelope Cruz as Blackbeard’s daughter. I’m not the biggest fan of Cruz at the best of times but I think she’s particularly awful here. She monotonously drones out all her lines giving no discernable indication that she knows what any of the words she’s saying actually mean. The resulting performance is about as convincing as a ropey late-70’s Bond girl. Much more promising is Blackbeard himself played by Ian McShane with echoes of his breakout role of Al Swearengen, the foul-mouthed brothel owner in Deadwood. Sadly, he doesn’t say the phrase “tell them whores to get to fucking” anywhere near as much as I’d hoped he would though.

Oh yeah, also...

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