Monday, November 7, 2011

PotC: On Lackluster Tides

First, let me address the tooth issue. (This will allow for those who haven't seen the film to read a bit, then walk away so as not to endure the spoilers that are sure to come.)

My days started with a web search for the nearest dentist. It turns out that he's a block and a half away from where I live, and it would have been perfect to set an appointment with him. But according to the woman who answered, they don't do extractions. She did, however, recommend someone...who didn't have an opening until the 18th. It was then that I called my PCP in the hopes that they could recommend someone to help me swiftly. Lo and behold, I was given the number of a clinic that was able to set me up with an appointment for Wednesday at noon. This works out well for me, as Becky will be unable to drive me over there today or tomorrow. (He school and work schedule sometimes make scheduling appointments difficult.) Meanwhile, I asked that my PCP call in a prescription for an oral rinse that would help numb my mouth for extended periods, unlike over the counter stuff.

Now, there's a bit of a money issue, in that even pulling a tooth isn't covered by any of my insurance. It would have been nice to know this before we purchased both Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Cars 2. The cost of both of those movies would have covered about a third of the cost of a tooth pull. Thankfully, the initial assessment appointment is free.

And so, having mentioned the movie, let me get into it. This is the part where, if you haven't seen it and don't want anything ruined, you scurry off to another part of the internet. Especially since I'm going to say something about the Easter egg.

First, let me say that I think PotC 1 was the best of the films. PotC 2 was good, and had what I considered an excellent cliffhanger at the end; it left us wanting more. PotC 3 was also good, as it wrapped up the ongoing tale rather nicely. Call me a sucker, but having Will and Elizabeth have a unique "happily ever after" kind of ending was pleasing. PotC 4...? Well, Becky liked it, and I think it was okay. But I don't want my movies to be okay; I want them "good" at the very least, and this wasn't so good.

The movie opens with the usual PotC madness. Jack Sparrow is up to something, and we get to know what most of that is immediately. After that, it loses its direction and wanders aimlessly toward an ending of sorts.

In all of the first three films, we were treated to a triangular struggle. It was Jack Sparrow and company vs. some force that was "official," (the Royal Navy), vs. some insidious villain, (usually another pirate). In the second and third films, the "official force" was in the form of a maliciously apathetic character, Lord Cutler Beckett, who didn't care who lived or died, as long as he got what he wanted.

The fourth film forces four sides at us. We have Jack, who seems to be lacking in the way of "and company." Then there's Blackbeard. Then there's Barbossa, again. Finally, there's "the Spanish," who receive so little character development as to leave the audience wondering why they're there in the first place. By the end of the film, they are revealed to have only one purpose, and it's just a plot device. And everyone is racing toward the Fountain of Youth.

Now that we've revealed the players, let's see what they do in the movie.

Jack, as usual, is interested in what Jack wants, and that's about it. His loyalty is never in doubt, being that he's mostly loyal unto himself. His ability to care about others usually goes only as far as to what he can get from them. He almost has a love interest here, that being the lovely Penelope Cruz as Angelica, but Jack loves himself more.

And this time around, Jack's lines weren't as entertaining as they'd been in the movies before. It's hard for me to describe, as whatever the word is I want as a descriptor is lacking in my vocabulary. His lines had a way of meandering while still managing to make a point. In this movie, it was almost as though he'd run out of wit, and was straining with all his might to muster that old Sparrow charisma.

Skipping the villainous villain a moment, we have Barbossa, who apparently lost his right leg at some point between movies, and is now working for the Crown. I just couldn't buy into this drastic change, that he'd align himself with the Royal Navy, even if it was to reach a personal goal. In my eyes, he was a pirate and should have remained a pirate. What's more, after all of his evil deeds before this movie, would the Royal Navy REALLY take him in and allow him to captain a ship? In the first movie, anywhere the Black Pearl had been left few if any survivors. Now he's their pal? Nope...The makers of this movie were instantly straining my suspension of disbelief.

The Spanish...We open with a scene involving them. There is a brief bit of dialogue involving them. And then we are treated to absolutely nothing about them until Jack and Barbossa visit their camp to steal stuff. Even then, there's no development of the characters. They're just there. Then, toward the end of the film, they show up to break things, which was really their only purpose.

Finally, we come to Blackbeard, who wasn't nearly as bad as any of the previous villains. At one point, he's referred to as "the pirate all pirates come to dread." Yes, his magic ship and zombie officers make for interesting aspects to his character, but they aren't used to any great extent. There's a mutiny at one point, and he's SO evil that he kills...one man. After that, he might kill this one; he might kill that one; and when others get killed during his part of the story, he's apathetic at best. He just doesn't revel in his evil the way Barbossa did in the first film or the way Davy Jones did in the next two.

The whole race to the Fountain of Youth...? Not much of a race, really. It was merely confusing as to who was in the lead. I mean, the Spanish always appear to be ahead of anyone who started out from England, but they arrive last? It left me with a sense that they were in a rush to get nowhere.

But now we come to that which actually bothered me most.

There is a voodoo doll of Jack that is used to first inflict pain on Jack, then to help him make an impossible dive. (You really have to see it to understand it.) For the latter, the doll is tossed over the side of a cliff, into a river that's leading out to sea.

Cut to the Easter egg, as it's often called, which comes at the end of the credits. Ms. Cruz has been abandoned on a small island and is waiting for...rescue, I guess. As she sits there, the doll washes up on shore.

Ummm...So the people who made this film want me to believe that a doll thrown over a cliff, landing in a river leading out to sea, just happens to make its way through the depths to the one small island where a character from the movie just happen to be stranded? Really? It wasn't swallowed by a big fish or snagged on some coral? Even if it floated, wouldn't it have simply washed back up on the shore near the river's mouth? It went all the way out to sea to end up right there, at just the right time...? And this is what we're left with, with the implied concept that this will carry us into the fifth movie, or somehow connect it to the sixth? (Yes, Disney hopes PotC 4 is the start of another trilogy.) Nope...They took my suspension of disbelief and cemented it to the ground on that one.

It wasn't ALL bad. But there was a quote used to describe this movie that stated, "The best of the Pirates franchise," to which I now read with wild-eyed confusion to ask, "It was?!?" No...the best was the original, which was a fairly original tale itself. There was a bit of dialogue in the first, in which Elizabeth asks, "Whose side is Jack on?" Will replies, "At the moment...?" That was the embodiment of the film, as every twist came with Jack's next series of antics. But now...? Jack is firmly set on Jack's side of things, and it would seem that everyone else is a bit player. My opinion is that they stop before they further ruin a good thing. Besides...if they keep rehashing the soundtrack alone, they'll wear out the original recordings.

And for the record, Becky liked the movie. Then again, she just wants to be entertained, and doesn't watch movies with the hypercritical eye that I do. It's the side effect of having taught myself to write screenplays. I can't "just watch a movie" anymore. =(

Be well, all, and DFTBA.

1 comment:

"Blue" said...

just a quick comment.

You totally forgot the priest!