Pirates–Yeah, I’m Actually Doing a Movie Review

Got back from seeing the long-awaited Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides tonight, and I feel inspired to write a review. I’m usually all about books, but a story is a story anyway, whatever the medium. And…well, pirates.

Don’t read this if you don’t want minor spoilers. Captain Jack retained most of his humor and charm, but much of the series’ wacky humor so prevalent in the previous movies seemed to be lacking. It also tragically lacked a certain amount of Will Turner. Okay okay, I know why he wasn’t in the story, and that Orlando and Keira had decided the time was ripe to bow out of the franchise. I’d accepted that; it was Johnny Depp who brought the movies to life anyway.

The story was relatively straightforward, without the complicated side plots so many critics and fans hated in Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. I personally didn’t mind the extra twists in those movies, although a couple of plot threads sailed over my head in AWE, and I had to get on the internet later in order to read the summaries. I was still okay with that, having been totally caught up in the action, humor, and kissing with lots of explosions and swordfighting in the background.

There were still plenty of action scenes in OST, fun enough to watch. The mermaids proved to be dangerous and creepy adversaries. Gibbs and Barbossa: likeable as ever. I missed Pintel and Ragetti, but Scrum was a decent substitute.

I read in a writing book that if you’re going to take a main character out of a story, you’d better replace him or her with someone just as important. I thought Angelica’s character was okay; they fleshed out enough backstory and tension with Jack to make her interesting. In a standalone movie Blackbeard would have been a great villain, but I thought Barbossa in the first movie was a much more detestable character (although Blackbeard is quite evil enough, you don’t feel any pity for him when he gets his just desserts); and even with a few token supernatural powers, he can’t hold a candle to the masterpiece that was Davy Jones.

I loved the mermaid Syrena and wished she’d had a bigger role, but I simply did not like her love interest Philip. Oh, he was sweet and good and pure-hearted, and I knew he’d be a love interest for someone the instant his character first showed up. Maybe I’m still hooked on Will and Elizabeth’s tempestuous romance, but I just couldn’t get into Philip and Syrena. Character replacement fail there. Or it could just be that most of the character replacements seemed very flat compared to the original characters.
Awesome movie moments: Any shot of the beautiful ship Queen Anne’s Revenge; Jack and Angelica’s “kiss” scene near the end; the short extra scene after the closing credits. Make sure you don’t miss that one.

Here’s what I rated the entire series:

Curse of the Black Pearl: 5/5
Dead Man’s Chest: 4/5
At World’s End: 4.5/5
On Stranger Tides: 3/5

I’m downright maniacal about Pirates of the Caribbean, to the point of incorporating pirate stuff into aspects of my daily life. But I think the time has come to bring the series to a respectful close, and I’ll just watch any of the first three movies over again whenever I need a pirate fix. An exception would be if, and only if, they come up with a truly spectacular plot that mirrors the genius of the first movie. I wouldn’t mind something involving Will and Elizabeth (and Jack too, of course). They could have a story revolving around Will’s current situation as the captain of the Flying Dutchman. But I won’t hold my breath.


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