Unlike everyone else, I didn't absolutely loathe the second and third Pirates movies. Sure, they weren't as good as the first one, and all the Davey Jones stuff was just a wee bit too much, but they had their moments. I particularly liked the crazy, over-the-top sword-fighting sequences--mainly for their fun choreography. But with a new director coming in, would this fourth installment be even remotely the same?

This installment gives us almost sole focus on Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Because of his past with Angelica (Penelope Cruz), he ends up on the Queen Anne's Revenge, the pirate ship helmed by Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Blackbeard then forces Jack to help him find the fountain of youth. But he's not after it alone. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is back and working for the British king, leading his men to the fountain, as well, bringing along Jack's first mate Gibbs (Kevin McNally), too. Along the way they meet some people, fight some mermaids, and have generally wacky adventures.

The first thing I noticed was that it was horribly clear this was a different director. Not only does the movie feel different, but Jack as a character feels off slightly. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's not necessarily a good thing, either. The film pulls back and tries to capture the charm of the first film, though it doesn't quite get there. And in the process, it loses even some of the better things from the two sequels. For instance, there are maybe 3 good sword fights, but only one is really all that memorable, and it's pretty early on in the film. The action in the movie is scaled back, which is unfortunate, as that was always my favorite part.

Also sorely missed are some of the more secondary characters from the first three films. And no, I don't mean Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. No, I mean the comedic duos (and often Greek Chorus) Pintel and Ragetti, as well as even the two British guards whose names I can't remember at the moment (that both become pirates by the end of the third movie, if I remember correctly). In fact, the whole of the Black Pearl crew is gone because, well, the Black Pearl is gone. It's a plot device--a really weak and overall unexplored one, but one that's there.

But the movie isn't all that bad. It's not all that great, but it's not all that bad. There's just nothing incredibly memorable about it. It's a fun time while watching, but afterwards it's just pretty decent thinking back. The mermaids are a lot of fun, though, to be honest. The whole mermaid sequence was pretty scary, actually, and unnerving. And then the use of the mermaids from that point on is interesting, even though the movie doesn't really go too deep into their mythology after the surface level.

Is Captain Jack back? Not completely, but he's getting there. My feelings on this film were almost equal to my thoughts on Fast & Furious (the fourth installment in that series, as well). It's fun while you're there, but there was a lot that could have been better about it. And hopefully, like that same series, a fifth will come about that will prove to be just as good as if not better than the original. If you're a fan of the series, this one won't hurt you. It's good--it just could have been better.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. It's a weak McLovin, but between the few fight scenes we got, some good Jack humor, and the mermaid stuff, I think it was good enough to bump up from an OK to that score.)

1 comment:

  1. Best review yet that sums up my thoughts perfectly. Also glad you commented on the immediate obviousness of a different director at the helm. I, too, missed Ragetti and Pintel - and hell, those two Royal guards from the trilogy. Love to see them add in their own flavor of comic relief without relying solely on Jackie Boy.

    The first lines of the final paragraph sums up the movie nicely: "Is Captain Jack back? Not completely, but he's getting there."


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