Posts Tagged 'pirates of the caribbean: on stranger tides'


I stab you with this 3D sword!!!

An exercise in creative futility, this Pirates movie, though slightly more cohesive than the bloated At World’s End (which, along with Avatar and Spider-Man 3, is right up there with the most expensive movies ever made), it isn’t any better, which is what everybody was expecting demanding if they insisted on moving forward with this franchise. Almost everyone involved with this series admitted that At World’s End went a bit off the deep end (literally and figuratively, as it turns out!), but they don’t seem to realize that all we wanted was a stronger, more focused story, as existed in the original movie. We didn’t get that, yet the studio wants people to pay even more money than they did for tickets in 2007 to see this one in 3D. That said, I’d rather watch the 2 hour, 50 minute At World’s End than see this again any day, because though it’s long and completely over the top, it isn’t boring. We often say that most sequels don’t need to be made, but this should be held up as the very definition of that thesis.

If it’s possible to mail in a $200 million summer megablockbuster, they’ve managed it here. And by the way, am I the only one who finds it hilarious that they consider $200 million “scaled down”? For almost everyone involved (the studio, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the writers, Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally (who plays Gibbs) and even composer Hans Zimmer and other key crew members carrying over from the first 3 movies), there appears to be no real reason this got made other than to stuff bank accounts. There sure as hell wasn’t a great story waiting to be told. They simply did it under the bullshit guise of “Well, the audience wants more, so we’re just giving them what they want.” Even after just seeing part 4, I can barely recall what it was about, and that doesn’t really bother me. We’re never given any logical reason why ANYONE involved actually wants to find the Fountain of Youth, and the payoff once they do make use of it is completely unsatisfying, despite the fact that every main character (and an army of Spanish dudes) is hunting for it. There is nothing remarkable about this movie at all, yet I will now attempt to make several pertinent remarks about it.

“Which way to the bank?”


-I liked the really quick Judi Dench cameo. But pay attention. Read these three sentences and that’s how fast it is.

-Though Hans Zimmer mostly used cues from the first 3 movies, one of the cool new things he did do was bring Rodrigo y Gabriela in to do some acoustic work with the new themes and for reprisals of some of the old motifs. Though I got the soundtrack, and they did a lot more work on the soundtrack album than what actually appears in the film. Or I just didn’t notice them as much in the film, because NOTHING really stood out. I’m trying to get into more Spanish guitar/acoustic acts and love when they’re used in movies. I also have a couple Rodrigo y Gabriela albums, so it was cool to see them involved here. Despite using a lot of the same old themes, as always Zimmer does manage to bring something new and unique to the table. In general though, I don’t see why Zimmer felt the need to come back and do this. That will be the running theme of this review: Why did you participate in this?

For today’s Recommended Listening, here’s a sample from the soundtrack that features Rodrigo y Gabriela. The track is called “South of Heaven’s Chanting Mermaids”:  

Penelope Cruz was better than I thought she’d be. I didn’t know if she had the charisma required to play opposite Johnny Depp in a big summer movie, but those doubts were quickly alleviated. I thought she was pretty good, but even though we’re told she and Depp had a romance that ended poorly, we’re never given any of the specific details of where or when that fling took place, or precisely why it ended poorly. Or maybe we did get that information and I’ve already forgotten it because it didn’t make any sense. That’s entirely possible.

O, HAI Penelope.
U iz lookin’ good!


-I love Ian McShane, and I love the idea of him playing Blackbeard, “the pirate all other pirates fear.” It’s a great setup for a proper villain. Unfortunately, there’s no such payoff in this movie. Here, Blackbeard is all talk and no real villainy. He’s not intimidating, and unless I’m mistaken, he never kills anyone by his own hand. The only time he does anything that’s supposed to be truly terrifying, it ends up being truly stupid. He sets this guy out on a small boat in front of his big ship, then uses the ship’s two massive flamethrowers (obviously) and lights the smaller ship ablaze. And this is supposed to be scary and prove how evil he is. Meanwhile, all I could think of was the fact that all the guy on the smaller boat had to do was JUMP INTO THE WATER to survive, but hey, let’s not nitpick! So yeah, Ian McShane is utterly wasted here, and it’s a damn shame. I’m actually offended, now that I think about it. Does Disney have a viewer complaint line?

-They excluded Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, which is good (and probably saved the production $30 million), but the problem is they replaced them with another young couple, except this time the girl is a mermaid. She’s cute and all, but for the dude, it seems like they purposefully tried to cast someone who looks a bit too much like Bloom. And the carbon copy Sam Claflin is the result of this casting search. Well, bravo Pirates casting directors, you found an Orlando Bloom clone. Unfortunately, you still don’t have a script that allows him to do anything worth a damn. I’m not blaming the actors for being boring. I have no idea from watching this if either of these two are good actors, but the exposure will surely get them other chances to prove their worth, and that’s fine with me.

This is about as interesting as this love subplot gets.
He whispers sweet nothings whilst she’s stuck in a puddle.

-If you were excited about the prospect of zombies in the Pirates franchise, get rid of those expectations. These are the most pointless zombies (there are really only 2 of them) in movie history. Seriously. In fact, almost all of the supernatural and fantasy elements of this movie are handled poorly. The mermaids are okay, but I definitely feel they could’ve been handled better. The big scene where they’re introduced is really goofy. Also, the visual effects shots of the mermaids underwater aren’t that impressive. I did like when the first one (played by a model of course) appears. A group of guys is put into a raft as bait, and they sing songs to try and attract the mermaids, and with one cut, all of a sudden one of them is just THERE, leaning on the back of the boat, innocently staring at them. That was cool. Everything else the mermaids do? Ne jabba no badda.

-The stunts and effects sequences are far below what we’ve seen in the previous movies. Gore Verbinski is a much more capable director than Rob Marshall in this regard. The action set pieces in the first 3 movies are clever, visually interesting and exciting. That is rarely the case here. In fact, it’s never the case. And the producers and writers need realize that these bloodless sword fights are incredibly tedious. There are 2 or 3 sword fight scenes here, and I just wanted a remote so I could fast forward through them. If you’re not gonna be lobbing off limbs or impaling people with swords, the fight choreography better be spectacular. That’s pretty obvious to me, but apparently not to the writers, producers, director and stunt guys on these movies. But what do I know? These guys seem to believe that even though the audience knows nobody’s going to get killed in a sword fight in these movies, we should still be invested in these scenes. That’s fucking ignorant. At least in Dead Man’s Chest, the big swordfight took place on the roof of a house and then on a giant spinning wheel, so it was at least cool to look at.

Of course, Disney (and the now completely creatively bankrupt Jerry Bruckheimer) has said they want more Pirates movies, but hopefully the critical reaction and mediocre fan reaction will dissuade that from happening anytime soon. Even Johnny Depp came out and said that while he still loves playing the character, he wants them to “hold off for a bit” before trying to make a fifth one. Hopefully, by “hold off for a bit” he means about 50 years. Funnily enough, if reports are accurate, a script for a fifth movie has already been turned in. Just file that on the shelf for a few decades, mmkay?

On Stranger Tides is not good enough to recommend, and not bad enough to scream, “Stay away!!!” I am not surprised by this (based on the trailers), and thankfully, I don’t really care, either. You can make up your own mind on seeing it in theaters. As always, all I ask is that you not see it in 3D.

To finish, here’s a recent quote from Mr. Depp:

“Really, ultimately and truly, these films are made for the people that go in and pay their hard-earned money to see these things,” Depp said. “And if the people get tired or something, that’s when it stops.”

Consider me exhausted. Can it stop now?

Check out some other like-minded reviews:

A.O. Scott is more critical, but also more concise. [NY TIMES]

Quint over at Aint It Cool feels pretty much exactly the way I do. [AICN]

Eric D. Snider sums it up nicely and amusingly. []


Basically, this movie isn’t worth 100% of my effort to do an in-depth review, but I simply had to share the following with you, because it doesn’t make sense unless I describe it within the context of seeing this movie.

-I didn’t like 5-10 people in the packed audience I saw it with. To my right was a group of 6 or so 18-22 year olds who had to verbally describe everything we were seeing during the trailers. Hey douchebags, there isn’t a prize for the person who can identify which movie is being advertised first. This ain’t Family Feud. Second, if you’re gonna scream the title out, scream out the right fucking title. It’s not called Cowboys VS. Aliens, dumbass, it’s Cowboys & Aliens. And thank you so much for pointing out for your stupidass friend which one was “the guy from James Bond” and which one was Harrison Ford. And thank you for pointing out that that’s Hugh Jackman in the Real Steel trailer. DER YA THINK SO!!??!! And no, jackass, it does NOT look “good.”

Also, though this theater is usually pretty good about this stuff, there was a projection issue for the second straight time I’ve been there (when I saw Bridesmaids last weekend, I could swear there was no surround sound the whole time). So, thanks to the theater staff for not noticing the two medium-sized blotches on the screen that were constantly out of focus, something that could only have been caused by a smudge or fingerprint on the glass in front of the projector. Projection issues drive me INSANE, but as the trailers progressed, for some dumb reason I hoped once the movie started they’d go away. They didn’t. Unfortunately, the only thing I hate more than projection issues is getting up and leaving the theater during a movie that I’m seeing for the first time. I was able to sit through all 2:17 of Stranger Tides and tolerate it, but I wanted to murder someone on the way out. Maybe I could’ve killed one or both of those two twats who sat in the row in front of me texting without remorse for the first 20 minutes of the movie. By the way, the sheer arrogance of that in today’s day and age is beyond my comprehension. I think we’re getting to the point now where almost everyone understands that you shouldn’t be texting during a movie. I rarely see it happen anymore, and we’re the better for it. That just makes it all the worse when someone does do it. Fuckin twats (I should use the c-word, but I’ll refrain). If it’s so goddamn important and the movie isn’t worthy of your attention, GO THE FUCK INTO THE LOBBY AND TEXT WHAT’S LEFT OF YOUR TINY FUCKING BRAINS OUT! And when you’re done, before you come back into the theater, go into the restroom and FUCK YOURSELF!!!

I’m also appalled that I was apparently the only one in the audience who noticed the focus problems, or cared enough to even consider telling someone.

Before we go, there were a couple of other recent thingamajigs that grabbed my attention. And I need to react to the end of The Event.

-Sony and Marvel just released the first poster and new text logo for 2012’s Spidey reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man. I like the font from the other movies better, but this’ll do just fine. I’m liking what I’ve heard about what they’re doing with this new incarnation of Spider-Man. They’ve scaled it down a bit (which is easy when your last movie cost $275 million BEFORE marketing costs were factored in), and from the set photos and descriptions, it sounds like they’re trying to do a lot more of the action this time around without relying on CGI the way Sam Raimi‘s films often did. They’re even doing some of the webslinging stuff for real, which will be really cool to see. I’m not passionate about it, but among all the comic book stories we’ve seen brought to the big screen in the past decade or so, Peter Parker is definitely one of the best characters of the bunch.

But wait! There’s more!

Oh, NOW it’s gonna be rated R? Like it should have been in the first fucking place? And what’s in that extra 18 minutes? More absurd, meaningless, illogical, inconsequential bloodless video game action? Did the writing get any better? No thanks, Zack Snyder.

RAAR! Standard serious-face cast photo.

-More frustration on the TV front. The Event finally wrapped up its first season, and was of course promptly cancelled by NBC after a MASSIVE cliffhanger ending. FUCK. YOU. VERY MUCH. This is now two alien invasion series I’ve followed in one year that have ended with a cliffhanger and been cancelled, the first being ABC’s V. ABC’s V? Giggity. Anyway, The Event was better than V in almost every regard, mostly because it was structured like a season of 24 (one of that show’s longtime writers and producers, Evan Katz, was a big creative force on The Event). What they failed to realize was that one of the best things about 24 was that you knew the main plot of each season would be resolved in the 24th episode. There were characters and through lines that carried over to subsequent seasons, but we knew where we stood after each season. I believe that should have been the case here as well, but as it drew closer to its end, I began to realize there was no way they’d wrap up this increasingly large mythology in one season. And now I’m fucked. Again. This time, there was some encouraging news, as I’ve read that the series may be picked up by a cable network for a second season. I guess NBC would rather create the 258th incarnation of Law & Order instead.

Worse yet, despite there being several big “events” during the course of the season, we’re led to believe in the final episode that the actual capital-E Event is yet to come. In case I’ve lost you, this means The Event was cancelled before we find out what the fucking Event actually is. See why I’m so frustrated? There was nothing great about the show per se, but it was definitely solid all around. A solid B+. It was shot beautifully, the effects were very good by TV standards, and the writing was decent (even if most of the ideas for twists and turns were ripped straight from things we’d seen a dozen times on 24), but it was the cast that really did it for me. I absolutely loved Blair Underwood in particular as President Martinez. It’s time for this guy to get some bigger roles and fast. The show featured a couple of my favorite character actors in prominent roles in Bill Smitrovich (playing Vice President Jarvis) and the always great Zeljko Ivanek as Blake Sterling, the DNI (that’s Director of National Intelligence, noob). I also liked Laura Innes as the alien leader Sofia, even if she was basically a Xerox of almost every 24 villain we’ve seen. Also solid was Ian Anthony Dale as Agent Lee, the superhot Taylor Cole as Vicky Roberts, Lisa Vidal as the First Lady. I was most surprised by Jason Ritter, who was much better than I expected him to be as the series’ protagonist, Sean Walker.

The show featured a lot of the things that made 24 suspenseful, with a lot of X-Files sensibilities mixed in, to make it a cool, genre-bending sci-fi action drama. I would very much like to see it continue, if for no other reason than the fans of the show deserve some fucking closure. I thought this was just gonna be a one-season show originally, but that tells you what I know.

I liked this show a lot, but I don’t know if I can recommend it to people who didn’t give it a chance, because until we find out what its fate is going to end up being, you’re going to wind up disappointed and wanting more at the end. I don’t want anyone else to experience what I did when I watched that finale on Monday. Sigh, at least I know Game of Thrones has already been picked up for a second season and Entourage is definitely entering its final season. Thank you, HBO, for having your shit together.

I leave you with this…

I’m wondering, why do women hate socks and shoes? I’m being serious. I know this is stupid, but when I notice trends (fashion trends especially), I can’t help but openly muse about them. My theory: as soon as winter is over, and for as long as they can tolerate the open air, females prefer exposing their feet whenever they leave the house. Women of all sizes, colors and ages. Ladies, I want to know why you despise socks and shoes so much. By my unscientific measurements, I’d say between the months of April and October, 8 in 10 women (that’s 80% for you math noobs) wear some form of flip flops or sandals when out in public. It seems to me the only time women wear anything else during moderate-to-warm weather is when they’re going to work, going to the gym, or going out at night, but even then, most women wear open-toed shoes or other, fancier forms of flip flops and sandals. Just from random daily observation, I’d say the rate of men who follow the same pattern is probably half that. Guys seem to prefer socks and sneakers, even in warm weather. This has to be a psychological thing. Can SOMEONE, male or female (preferably female), explain this to me? Check this out in your own travels. Women hate socks. I’m telling you. And again, I realize it’s stupid, but one doesn’t control the things that preoccupy the mind.

Today Be Tuesday

Yankees. LOSE.

How’s this for a starting rotation, in the National League no less; Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels. They could put a feces-throwing monkey out there on day 5 and not miss a beat.  Is it too early to say I’m looking forward to the Red Sox-Phillies World Series? Cliff Lee left $30 million and 2 years on the table from the Yankees’ offer, and went to where he thought he would be happier (and perhaps where he knew there’d be easier opponents). 5 years, $120 million certainly isn’t a bargain (his $24 million average annual salary actually surpasses the AAV of the Rangers and Yankees’ deals), but I still give Lee a bravo for showing the Yankees they can’t get whoever they want just by spending. The Yankees are left with just an okay starting rotation, and they remain very old on the whole. On top of that, the Rays’ lineup has been decimated, having lost Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena. If the Red Sox don’t win the AL East (and lead it throughout the year), they should be ashamed. Here are a few good reaction pieces to the Lee decision; [Yahoo] [ESPN NY] [Jayson Stark] [NY Post]

Also, I’d like to give Theo Epstein and the Sox brass kudos for putting in fake bids on both Lee and Mariano Rivera to help force the price up for the Yankees.

Pretty much a perfect opening titles sequence.

Now that season 1 is over, I just wanted to profess my love for AMC’s The Walking Dead. Aside from The West Wing24, and more recently Boardwalk Empire, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more consistently cinematic TV show. Under Frank Darabont‘s stewardship, the show is beautifully shot, expertly acted, and maturely written. I’m also thrilled that the show is carried by actors who haven’t previously headlined a TV show. Andrew Lincoln is a great discovery (he’s also British, if you didn’t know), and the rest of the cast is a breath of fresh air (though Laurie Holden worked with Darabont on his films The Mist and The Majestic, and the always wonderful Jeffrey DeMunn has been in all 4 of Darabont’s features, going all the way back to Shawshank). The season finale last week drew 6 million viewers, which is gargantuan for cable (and not bad even for an average network show these days). I’m happy that AMC took a chance on a show like this, and even moreso that they were justly rewarded in the ratings when it turned out to be so good.  The upside is that the second season will be 13 episodes (as opposed to the debut season’s mere 6), but the downside is we have to wait until next October for it to return. HBO will also make an attempt at a genre series with next year’s debut of Game of Thrones, and I’m very much interested to see how that turns out. Either way, it’s a good trend. The fewer legal dramas, medical dramas, and police procedurals that get made going forward, the better. I’m thrilled that the cable networks now produce the best television, since they don’t have to make their shows PG-rated. The more R-rated, realistic, gritty TV we get, the happier I am.

-Next up on the docket, there were quite a few new trailers released this past week for some of 2011’s biggest movies.  Here are the first clips for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Thor, The Beaver, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, with some reaction after each.

My first impression after watching this trailer was precisely my reaction to the announcement they were making a 4th Pirates movie…what’s the point? Other than the ability to print money of course, why is this necessary? Nevermind, there is no other reason. It looks entertaining, but it certainly doesn’t look like this was a story that was just BEGGING to be told. I was glad that Gore Verbinski, who directed the first 3, wisely stepped aside, and they’ve also dumped the Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley characters. The salaries for those 3, and the fact that they seem to have cut way back on the supernatural elements of the story, should have brought the budget down significantly for this 4th installment. That’s a good thing for Disney, as each of the previous sequels cost $250 million or more (the messy At World’s End was supposedly north of $275 million). Replacing Verbinski is Rob Marshall, best known for Chicago. I’m curious to see how he’ll handle a big adventure picture with lots of effects. All the reports I’ve read say Johnny Depp came back because he truly loves playing this character (he certainly made enough money on the others so that cash wasn’t his main concern), and I think that still comes across in his performance. I’m a big fan of Ian McShane playing the main villain, Blackbeard (though no one will top Bill Nighy‘s brilliant work as Davy Jones), but I’m not crazy about Penelope Cruz as the new female lead. Though she’s talented, I’m not crazy about her in general, and I could see her becoming very annoying in this movie. The two best aspects of this movie for me may end up being Hans Zimmer‘s score and the cinematography of Dariusz Wolski, who is nothing short of a genius.

I’ll admit I know next to nothing about the Thor comic book mythology. I know he carries an awesome hammer, and that’s about it. I loved the little snippet they gave us at the end of Iron Man 2, and I love how the Marvel movies are all tying together in anticipation of The Avengers in 2012. I like the scale they seem to be going for here, but at the same time if they don’t do this just right, the character could come across as silly existing in the same world as Robert Downey Jr.‘s Tony Stark. That’s the only thing that really concerns me. The most interesting thing about this project is the choice of Kenneth Branagh as director. What I’m hoping is that a guy known mostly for his performances of Shakespeare can bring a bit of that prestige to this fantasy world. At least that’s what I think they were going for when they hired him. I haven’t seen anything he’s previously directed, so I’m curious about his style, too. It should be fun seeing Anthony Hopkins ham it up, and I’ll never complain about seeing Natalie Portman on screen. Though isn’t it also interesting looking at Portman’s career choices (the Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta, Thor, and she’s rumored to be up for a part in The Dark Knight Rises). Am I crazy, or is she a closeted geek? As if I couldn’t love her any more.

This film is controversial only in that it features Mel Gibson as its star. It was originally slated for release this year, but because of the controversy surrounding Gibson this summer (“You should just SMIIIIILE…AND BLOOOOOOOOOOOOWWW ME!”), it was put into exile. A lot of people (including me), were very much looking forward to seeing it, because a couple of years ago, Kyle Killen‘s original script was at the top of the annual list of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. It’s certainly an original concept, and the pedigree of Jodi Foster directing Gibson has a lot of people excited. I think this trailer is a good payoff for the hype. I’m glad Summit put it out, because it indicates they do intend to release the film sooner than later. The realist in me doubts it’ll make much money, but I’m hoping it represents a comeback for Gibson with regards to his performance. Despite his antics, he remains one of our greatest actors, and he deserves a chance at redemption and forgiveness as much as anyone else. Mel Gibson is certainly not the first celebrity for whom we have to separate the performance from the man.

This is a great teaser, but then again, Michael Bay‘s movies always have solid first trailers. And then the films themselves end up being 150-minute teases. Bay claims to have learned his lessons from the second film, claiming there’ll be much less slapstick comedy. He’s saying this one will have a more serious, darker tone (where’d he get that idea from, *cough*Dark Knight *cough*, ahem). I love what they did with the Neil Armstrong lunar landing (just a really cool idea), and I love that Shockwave is the main villain this time, but I don’t know if that’s him you see at the end of the trailer. There’s a debate raging online as to whether or not it’s Unicron, apparently based only on the fact that he’s yellow-ish. However, Unicron is supposed to be planet-sized, so he better not have fit inside a ship that crashed on the moon. Just sayin. Then again, after how badly they fucked up Devastator in the last one, I wouldn’t be surprised if Unicron ended up being a school bus.

How could I not…

“You shall witness…it’s dismumbumunt!!!”

Also released just today (on Vin Diesel‘s Facebook page for some reason), is the teaser for Fast Five, aka the 5th (and supposedly final) Fast and the Furious movie. Also known as 5 Fast 5 Furious, The Fivest Fastest Mostest Furiousest, 5ast cars, Bald HeadsThe Fastest Way Paul Walker Can Earn a Paycheck, and of course, the more direct…Give Us More of Your 5ucking Money! The trailer is not yet on Apple, Yahoo or the Tube, so there’ll be no linkage, but for now you can go to if you really wanna see it. And you needn’t worry, there are several obligatory shots of a pair of girls wearing tiny skirts walking by random import cars. Cuz that apparently never gets old. It actually doesn’t look all that bad (even though it brings Tyrese and Ludacris back from the second movie, which was the worst of the bunch), but it’s just too easy to mock. Dwayne Johnson is in it, so we can look forward to the inevitable scene in the film where he and Diesel have a hardcore steel cage ladder match to find out who takes home Dominic Toretto‘s 6-pack of Corona.

Xander Cage vs. The Tooth Fairy. Live, only on Pay-per-view!!!

(Is it strange that Johnson will followup up Faster with Fast Five?)

-Finally, switching gears (see what I did there?), I was glad to read today that the House is going to bring up a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a stand-alone piece of legislation. I fully support getting rid of this stupid rule in the military. If a gay person wants to serve their country, they have the same right to as anyone else. It really ought to be that simple. I’ve heard of no studies that show gay soldiers can’t integrate themselves into their units the same as anyone else, and I think it’s kind of ignorant to suggest they’d be some kind of sexual predators or that they’d spend an inordinate amount of time hitting on other soldiers of the same sex. It’s equally absurd to suggest that our hetero soldiers aren’t trained and disciplined enough to be mature about serving with gays. Any who aren’t should be relieved of their duties. A previous attempt to repeal the policy was voted down in the Senate recently, but mostly because it was earmarked to another massive spending bill. This time, lawmakers will have to be heard on where they stand on this one issue, which is exactly the way it should be.  Lawmaking doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Bills don’t have to be thousands of pages long to have a positive, lasting impact. Credit here appears to go to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA). Don’t say I never gave the Democrats credit when they did something good, and I’ll be taking note of any major Republicans who openly oppose this. Congress will get a rare thumbs up from me if they get this done before they go home for the year. [Politico]


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