"To feel engaged or interested at any point in this film, was like navigating the high seas, passing the time with gritted teeth until I could be rescued by the end credits..."
So yet another Pirates of The Caribbean instalment has washed up on our shores, waving it's flag desperately for our attention, and like the dying embers of a sinking ships flare gun, I feel we are being forced to notice something that we would rather pretend isn't happening. Yes that's right, Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 is here, yes 4, which means we have left the realms of trilogy and have moved swiftly into the dawn of a new pirates era, which means at least two new pirates films could be hijacking our summer screens over the next few years.
Now don't get me wrong, I am probably one of the biggest Johnny Depp fans out there, and I truly loved the first and second Pirates Of The Caribbean films, and I even got on board with the third, however unfortunately, bored is the only word I am left to describe this latest Disney production, which was directed this time by Rob Marshall of Chicago fame, instead of Gore Verbinksi, who directed the last three Pirates films.
The premise of this new film, On Stranger Tides, is the hunt for the Fountain Of Youth. At first glance at some of the promotional materials or even the trailer, we are promised a new and exciting cast of mermaids, Blackbeard the legendary pirate played by Ian McShane, a new love interest in the form of christian missionary and general wet blanket Philip played by Sam Claflin, and Penelope Cruz as Blackbeard's daughter and Captain Jack Sparrow's former sea wench Angelica. So far so good. However the ingredients put into this film don't seem to make the hearty soup that most Pirates fans were probably expecting. The plot, although good enough on paper just isn't original enough to keep up the excitement levels, and the resulting effect is one pointless pirate sword fight after another, with a half baked romance between Jack and Angelica, which never seems to get beyond a bit of damp sexy banter, alluding to the fact that surprise surprise these two were once an item.
The hunt for the fountain of youth kicks off when Blackbeard, who is basically Hitler with a pirates hat, is told he will be murdered by a one legged man. Racing against him for the source of eternal life is Captain Barbossa played once again by the brilliant Geoffrey Rush, who has transformed from a barnacle covered Pirate to what now appears to be some form of Pirate advisor to King George II, complete with a new fake posh accent. His mission under the orders of the King is to beat the Spanish to the Fountain Of Youth. It appears everyone has their own agenda, and we are the only one's who just don't care. This was the main failing of the film, there were absolutely no moments that I can remember being genuinely concerned for any of the characters or their plights. It's gotten to the point where any peril that Captain Jack or his miserable crew may face, is so effortlessly and quite often, comically avoided that it becomes a pointless exorcise. It felt like so little care or life was breathed into any of the characters this time around, that to feel engaged or interested at any point in this film, was like navigating the high seas, passing the time with gritted teeth until I could be rescued by the end credits. In fact watching Pirates Of The Caribbean On Stranger Tides felt like we were simply humouring the Pirates team, like watching a child's production because we know we should support them despite the acting being more wooden than Captain Barbosa's leg.
As much as I loved Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the first three films, I now fear he is becoming a slight parody of a parody, and the whole cheeky, eyelinered, swaggering performance is becoming a bit predictable. He is still, on the whole, fun to watch, but I fear any further Pirates films will be the final nail in Captain Jacks coffin. The 3D again, is as pointless as the flamethrowers attached to the front of Captain Blackbeard's ship, and it only served to make the film appear darker and seemed to serve no purpose at all other than the odd sword popping out of the screen, but blink and you would have missed it!
Apart from a brilliant cameo from Keith Richards, as Jacks Dad, and a pretty full on scene where the mermaids turn nasty, the film on the whole just made me pine for the first installment, and any film that makes you miss Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, is doing something wrong. However perhaps the fourth film is simply a plot to make us all go out and buy the original trilogy on DVD so we can remember the good old days, when Pirates was Pirates, Johnny Depp was genuinely hilarious, and when two and bit hours of Pirates didn't make me want to walk the plank.