Jack Sparrow is finally back on the big screen. After the first film we had two sequels back to back, one was an action/adventure film classic, the other was a total mess. Still “At Worlds End” even with major plot holes and let downs still had an energy to it. Sadly the second Stranger Tides begins we can tell the film series has lost the magic. There are SPOILERS ahead so be aware as you read on…
Johnny Depp returns as Sparrow who we find in London trying to free an old friend from prison and a date with the gallows. From there he runs into Angelica, played by Penelope Cruz who easily traps him into becoming a crew member for her father Blackbeard. They along with Barbossa and the Spaniards are all looking for the Fountain of Youth which has a lot of weird guide lines to follow to gain its power. I’m not going to go further into the plot because frankly it’s pointless. The thing that kept the other films afloat was even when the plots became convoluted they were fun. This film forgot that and there are I’d say half a dozen times that things just fall flat and are dull. The film forgot to have fun as they scrambled to make an adventure film.
The list of problems is really long here so I’d rather focus on some of the positives. First off the original three movies never looked real, loads of CGI and style made the films look like dreams but never grounded in reality. Director Rob Marshal pulled away from CGI over use and it gives the film a gritty and real feeling. Frankly the pirates feel like pirates. Also several of the actors really try and pump life into a script that gave this film no chance at succeeding. Ian McShane plays Blackbeard and has fun with it, Cruz and Depp have a fluid chemistry that for some reason to film barely wanted to have on screen. The film does though have some shining action scenes. Rob Marshall avoided using shaky cam or up close shots during sword fights, I liked that a lot. There is also a scene involving mermaids that is fantastic and most likely will be the only part of the film anyone cares to remember.
The movie frankly has no point and makes no sense. I won’t spoil the ending but it is dumb… I mean really dumb. People take actions that go against everything they were doing before hand. We also have to deal with a young missionary who is obviously an Orlando Bloom replacement. This character has no depth at all, he has one purpose and it never changes. Yet he falls in love with a mermaid and somehow we’re suppose to care, well no one does. This is the problem with Stranger Tides, it never lets go, everything is by the numbers and utterly predictable to the point the great cast can not save it. With it’s ultra real feeling as well it limits the amount of action scenes we get. The other films used environments and clever new ideas to get the audience to really pay attention. Here we get a half dozen sword fights and that’s about it. Most of the film is focused on walking around a jungle and talking. As the film goes on you come to realize that director Rob Marshall either had no idea how to make this film, or lost his heart in the first act. Everything becomes dull and lifeless and it’s a shame. The script is literally horrible, somehow making the quest for the fountain of youth into the most boring chase ever to be shown on film.
I say all this with hope that the franchise continues, they need to drop the writers and Marshall. Return to having some fun and think up action scenes that work. I’m not sure how this movie will fair, hopefully none of the negativity lands on the cast. They are all really good here, it’s just everyone else let them down. On Stranger Tides hits rough seas and never recovers, hopefully the franchise can, I’d hate for this to be the last voyage for Captain Jack Sparrow.