Saturday, May 21, 2011

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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Our favorite pirate captain is back for his fourth go around. Johnny Depp headlines Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as Captain Jack Sparrow. He's back with Geoffrey Rush and Kevin McNally who reprise their roles as Captain Hector Barbossa and First Mate Gibbs. Those are the only returning characters from all three previous adventures. This movie should rule the weekend as no other movies are going up against it. And with releases in 2D, 3D and 3D Imax at my local theater it is taking up four theaters and 20 time slots therefore it should gobble up the movie money this weekend.

On Stranger Tides Movie Poster
At my theater, the first show of the day, I had a little issue happen. We started the previews. After the theater chain trailer finished a screen came up saying to put on the 3D glasses. I paid for 2D so it was a little shocking. Funny though, I did look around to see if anyone in the theater had 3D glasses they were putting on their head in case I might have gone in the wrong door. No yellow frames were to be found in the room. Luckily it was a digital projection theater and after notifying the theater management, it only took about 30 seconds to swap the 3D version back to 2D although we had to sit through the theater chain trailer again.

Film four harkens back to the original Pirates of the Caribbean film, Curse of the Black Pearl. Within moments we re-meet Captain Jack and very quickly we're off into the action. This time around the legendary Fountain of Youth is the desired treasure. Stopping Jack from getting there is a women from his past, the meanest of all pirates and Jack's arch frenemy. One of the fun aspects of the series is how the writers bring in parts of pirate and mythological lore that the average person probably knows or has heard of and twists them or brings in extra embellishments. Examples include how the fountain of youth operates and the backgrounds of mermaids. Ted Elliot and Terry Rosario were the writers taking elements from Tim Powers' novel On Stranger Tides and translating them for the big screen.

We're introduced to the love interest, Angelica (Penelope Cruz). After many years Jack and Angelica have a run in and end up aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge which is Blackbeard's ship. Blackbeard (Ian McShane) is heading to the Fountain of Youth. They're trying to beat Barbossa to the prize. But to capture the reward they also need a mermaid who turns out to be a different species from Madison in the 1984 Touchstone mermaid film Splash. So the take away is this: if you ever run into a mermaid, you need to ask them where they put themselves on the nice/nasty scale! That can make all the difference in the world!

On Stranger Tides Movie Poster
The adventure was filmed in London, Puerto Rico, and multiple locations in Hawaii including Oahu and Kauai. The Queen Anne's Revenge remained in Hawaii after the filming and is now "permanently" moored at the Ko Olina Marina. Not too long ago I had the chance to go out to the marina and see the ship in person and take some photos. If you would like to see them click here. It's amazing how seeing a prop like that changes your perspective when you see the movie and how it comes to life. And speaking of coming to life, just as they have done before there is a scene in the movie that pays tribute to the attraction at parks around the globe.

The two parts of the movie that disappointed me were two action set pieces. Theses were very similar to the staging in Curse of the Black Pearl, one towards the beginning of the movie and the other towards the end. The lighting, choreography and reasonings of the scenes were similar enough that when you see them you'll think that you've seen them before just as I did. There were other elements from Dead Man's Chest and At World's End that were included but they were more along the lines of traits and habits adding a consistency to what we expect from the franchise.

Hans Zimmer once again provided the soundtrack that adds the jauntiness, tension, heart pounding and fun that the film requires.

It was a good popcorn and soda movie. Just watch the size of the soda as the film ran for 137 minutes and you might need to dash out for a few minutes. It had a rating of PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images, sensuality and innuendo. Finally, as with all of the other Pirates of the Caribbean movies, stay put after the credits for an extra scene.

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