When Disney announced that they had plans for a fourth Pirates movie I must admit that I was somewhat excited. I always enjoyed the series and I was excited to see another. I thought the first film was quite fun and the second one, while not as good, still had its moments. The third film was probably the weakest of the bunch, but I still enjoyed it on some levels. I never considered the Pirates films great cinema, but I enjoyed spending a few hours watching Captain Jack Sparrow go on all sorts of fun adventures across the world. I always loved the settings and I enjoyed the top notch special effects, thanks to producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
When it was confirmed that Johnny Depp was coming back and Rob Marshall was directing I couldn’t help but to get prepared for another fun time on the high seas! They decided to get rid of Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom and instead focus more on the silly Johnny Depp. I never disliked Bloom or Knightley, but I imagined that a film that focused more on Capt. Jack Sparrow and less on the side characters would be much more fun! I was expecting a ton of action and all sorts of hilarious gags and in some ways I was given that, but it all sort of felt old and boring.
Watching Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides reminded me that sometimes big action sequences and the occasional funny gag can’t make a movie without a consistent plot, even if you try to focus on such a popular character like Jack Sparrow. There was little to no plot in this film and the little plot that did exist really didn’t make much sense at all. Characters sort of appeared and disappeared as they pleased and Jack Sparrow managed to go from fun and silly to just plain out dumb. It wasn’t until this fourth film that I realized how much I enjoyed Bloom and Knightley’s characters. Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann really did carry the story of the other three films and it was them that drew me into the Pirates movies. Jack Sparrow was a nice addition and he certainly made you feel at home once you climbed aboard for the ride, but when you have a film that mainly centers on Jack Sparrow you start to realize that the character is rather boring and dull.
Pirates 4 picks up after the last three films and it follows Jack Sparrow, Barbossa and new comers Blackbeard and Angelica as they search for the fountain of youth. It’s an all-out race between the Spanish, the British and Blackbeard’s crew which includes Angelica and Jack Sparrow. Sparrow manages to weasel his way onto Blackbeard’s ship after quite a few action scenes and he is forced to help them find the fountain, since he possesses the location.
The story really does seem like a fun Pirates film and it really shocked me with how bored I felt. Within the first 10 minutes of the film I already started checking my watch wondering when it would be over. Every scene that Jack is in manages to be a simple repeat of something from the past three films, but this time with less heart and more laziness. Instead of developing a new adventure for us to experience we are stuck witnessing Jack being silly Jack for two and a half hours with fights and battles that mean nothing. The story is a complete mess; it manages to jump around all over the place with no rhyme or reason. The Pirates films were never known for their brilliant stories, but they always managed to feel fun. For some reason they decided to just string little bits and pieces of a movie together. There is no real narrative or story to be followed and it makes for one weak entry in an otherwise decent series.
The 3D doesn’t add much effect at all and it felt like the usual cash grab that has been striking Hollywood as of late. Some of the scenes on the ocean did benefit from the 3D for depth, but those shots felt far and few between.
The acting is forgettable, even amongst the returning cast. Penelope Cruz seemed out of place and she really lacked any chemistry with Johnny Depp. Ian McShane didn’t bring much as Blackbeard. He felt very weak compared to Davy Jones from part 2 and 3. As I mentioned several times Jack Sparrow managed to become quite annoying and unfunny fairly fast. The only performance I didn’t mind was Gibbs, who was in it for all of 15 minutes.
Overall, what ended up being the shortest Pirates film has managed to feel like the longest. Pirates 4 was very slow and boring with very little plot development. They managed to take out all of the fun and fill it with boring bits of action and the usual Jack Sparrow silliness. I think fans of the series will be disappointed by the lack of enjoyment. This is a prime example of lazy filmmaking at its finest. Disney tried cashing in on a popular series by cutting corners and getting rid of several key characters and focusing more on the uninteresting Jack Sparrow. Oh and the 3D is a waste, don’t even bother.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – 5.5/10