Every so often a movie series comes along that at first had a witting charm of the dear old drunk uncle who everyone finds funny and amusing the first time he gets really drunk. Of course just like the uncle, the series gets old and boring after a period of time, aka multiple sequels. This is exactly what happened to the Pirates franchise. While the first film The Curse of the Black Pearl was one of the better movies that year the follow up Dead Man’s Chest left a large amount of eye brows being lifted. Of course none so as much as the nightmarish finale to the trilogy At World’s End. It seems though that all this may or may not be behind the Disney helmed franchise as we brave new waters sans Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom’s sappy forced love story. Granted that may or may not mean less chemistry for Johnny Depp and every other actor on screen to gallivant with. But nay fear not skeptics, Pirates 4 does everything you thought it would and then some!
The film essentially borrows it’s plot for the novel On Stranger Tides, actually they bought the rights to the story of the book and adapted it to fit the Pirates franchise. We got the Spanish who hunt down the Fountain of Youth, so the king of England wants in. He has a privateer who looks awfully familiar, the one legged (this is new) Hector Barbosa (Geoffry Rush) now of course Jack Sparrow (Depp) is somehow involved in this in the beginning, it doesn’t matter how but he bumps into an old flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz) who has conned the dreaded Blackbeard (Ian McShane) into believing that she’s his daughter.
All the while these many groups hunt down the Fountain of Youth. There is no development on the Spanish but some on Barbosa. We get most of the film told from Jack’s perspective which may or may not be a dazzling thing. We get the budding romance between Cruz and Depp’s characters and while it isn’t as annoying as what we had in the trilogy it’s still slightly annoying. This isn’t a movie series that should have that underlying romance to it, it just ruins the whole experience if you ask me. Of course there is a “cleric” and a mermaid love story going on and that really made me choke on aspestos.
We can talk about how the plot actually doesn’t have like fifty different minor plots and how it seems sound compared to the previous ones where Davy Jones is a squid faced monster because he loved someone and his whole crew are sea creature people (I’m sure the furry community LOVED that). But the fact remains this is a series that doesn’t follow normal plot rules. They take one main plot device and turn it into another and throw it all away. Needless to say, one main plot with little to no deviation is a huge plus for the franchise. This is all about the quest for the fountain. Boom. It’s like watching an actual movie.
Now when we talk about scripting it falls flat. Some of McShane’s lines feel very scripted and forced. Granted he’s not the best actor but at the same time he is not the worst actor. Some of his (who am I kidding all of) the lines where he sounds like he’s in a Shakespearan play feel that way. I have to fight myself from gagging on how flat he fails at delivering them. Cruz isn’t any better or is but not by much. Rush and Depp deliver all the proper acting chops and prove to have great chemistry once again. I found myself just asking, Does Johnny Depp have good chemistyr with everyone? See I divulged into the acting segment of the film which I’m okay with.
Rob Marshall doesn’t have action chops down (Nine, Chicago, Memoirs of a Gesha) really show his true form. Some of the action sequences were very choreographed to a point that it felt like dancing. The effects were choppy at times, as I was easily able to discern a stunt from CGI animation. When you can do this very easily something is wrong with the film itself.
My final thoughts are this is not the best Pirates, but it’s not the worst. The pros of this film are that it seems to be fairly Depp driven but then again even he can’t save this sinking ship. The lack of the Bloom-Knightley love seems to be missing as the replacement just makes you gag. Depp has told the makers to hold off on the fifth one until he sees how this one does, and I’m not sure if that’s financially or in the reviews like this but I’d shoot a cannonball at this one as it scores below a 5/10 to only earn a meager 4.4 just did that .4 for for one person.