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Thursday, 19 May 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides review.

Usually, when a film has gained both commercial and critical success, production companies take the same, basic formula for said successful movie, and re-arrange slightly it to create a sequel. Sequels are dangerous territory. Audiences love them, but they also love to hate them. Sequels can either feel like a money making ploy or a way of progressing the narrative of an already great storyline. It's usually the first one.


As the number of sequels increase, the quality decreases, which I like to to call "Quality deprivation syndrome". Symptoms include:

  • Over-complex story-lines.
  • An expectation that you have watched the previous films in the series, meaning if you haven't watched the last few films, you are going to be sitting in that cinema, bored and confused, for an hour and half.
  • Terrible characterization.
  • Introducing new characters which add nothing to the plot.
  • Never matching up to the greatness of the original film.
  • Vomitting.
  • Nose bleeds.
Okay... the last two only count because you may hate the cheesy love story so much, you feel the need to vomit, and you might hate the film so much, and be angry over the £8.30 you paid to watch this inexcusably terrible piece of cinema, that you punch the guy sitting next to you.

Luckily for you (and the guy sitting next to you), "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" does not suffer from "Quality Deprivation syndrome".

Captain Jack Sparrow is back for this action packed film, following the race between three crews of sea-men (not to be confused with semen) to reach the fountain of youth before the other two crews can access the key to prolonged life. That is basically the plot, summed up in three lines. But what's a Hollywood blockbuster without a love interest? The love interest in this particular film comes in the form of the beautiful Penélope Cruz, who plays Angelica, Jack's estranged lover. The basic plot does not subtract at all from the films entertainment value, but instead gets the audience to relax to an escapist film whilst enjoying the company of the exuberant characters on screen.

The most notable thing about "POTC: On Stranger Tides" is Johnny Depp's reprising role as everyone's favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow. Effortlessly smooth and nimble, considering he's never truly sober, he manages to ooze a certain type of charm that no audience can deny. Every second of screentime is squeezed for the greatest comedic effect, but it somehow manages to not feel forced at all. Ian McShane gave a flawless performance as the ferocious pirate Blackbeard, giving the series a villain that is not only brutal, intriguing and fearsome, but also one that is fun to hate, something that was missing from the previous films. 

Depp and Cruz's on screen relationship was smoldering to say the least, with uncomfortable close encounters and playful banter galore. To say the two had amazing chemistry would be somewhat of an understatement. Marshall's directing only reinforces the believable relationship that Depp and Cruz's characters have in the film.

The special effects in this movie are brilliant, although I wouldn't say they benefited from the 3D conversion. Once again, a production company has opted for a cheaper, 3D conversion instead of shooting with 3D equipment, which makes the film darker as a result (although, it's hard to tell what's intentional darkness in this film and what is a result of the conversion process). Why do they do this? Money. But we aren't here to rant about 3D movies...
The special effects themselves are fantastic. The scene that sticks in my mind is the scene in which Angelica shows Jack a number of ships in a bottles... real ships in bottles. Including tiny crewmen, waves and miniature monkeys (see it to believe it everyone).

In short: This is an incredibly entertaining film, you are in store for a barrel of laughs and swashbuckling action sequences if you decide on watching it, and I thoroughly recommend that you do.

Lauren xxx

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