(Also posted on tumblr, guys. Experiment.)
Yo ho me hearties! Today I went to see the new Pirates movie. I certainly had mixed feelings on going in, because of the largely negative reviews it’s been getting from the critics. There was much in the film to justify their negativity, but it was nonetheless enjoyable to me.
I thought the acting was much better all round than in the previous episodes. Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow continues to be one of my favourite cinematic characters, and the performances of Ian McShane and Geoffrey Rush were nicely piratical. With the other characters I was less enamoured, although overall it was well enough done.
Rob Marshall’s direction sparkles with wit and there are many great visual moments. However, it can’t really hold together the muddled script which seems to move pointlessly from one action scene to another without great reason. Some seems shamelessly cribbed out of other films, including unexpectedly The Italian Job. There seems to be very little real tension within the first and second acts, so the film largely mopes along until it draws towards the climax. The five principals seem to drift in and out of the story on occasions, and there is very little sense of narrative cohesion until the later part of the film. I thought while watching the previous films that the writers had a talent for creating great individual moments but were less proficient at shaping an entire narrative - On Stranger Tides reinforced this message.
The special effects and cinematography are spectacular, as befits a Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer movie. However, the proliferation of very dark scenes, made worse by watching in 3D, started to irritate me as I simply could not see what was going on. Overall, the film cannot hold a tallow candle to The Curse of the Black Pearl, but in a climate of so many magical realist/fantastical movies, it stood out because of its strong central character, its direction and its wit.