Terrible. Terrible, terrible, terrible. This once mighty Disney juggernaut has exhausted the previously charming world of pirates, curses, treasure, and swashbuckling adventures it used to be heralded for. I had held out some hopes for the 4th installment of the “Pirates” series. I mean, they ditched the increasingly bizarre Will/Elizabeth romantic subplot, had a real chance to learn from their mistakes in “World’s End,” start fresh, and return this movie to the humble beginnings that made it such a fun, invigorating experience in the first place. I mean, I remember when the first “Pirates” movie was announced, and I was like, “WTF? You mean that slow-ass boat ride at Disneyland? They’re gonna make an entire MOVIE based on that?? What’s next? Movies based on board games like Battleship and Monopoly?” (ps fuck you Hollywood) But then, against all odds, “Pirates of the Caribbean” not only totally ROCKED, but gave birth to one of the most iconic characters created in the last decade of cinema: Jack Sparrow.
The characters were awesome. The story was compelling. The special effects were top-notch. It was rollicking good mix of action, adventure, and comedy, AND they managed to set a national trend that made it slightly more acceptable for dudes to wear mascara. Riding high on the success of “Curse of the Black Pearl,” Gore Verbinski still helming the Bruckheimer machine set out to top his previous blockbuster with “Dead Man’s Chest.” Now, the movie may not have been quite as good. After all, the tinsel town sequel formula is to take what the first one great, and then multiply that by cocaine. Grander in scope with even more emphasis on special effects, “Pirates 2” wasn’t quite as dynamic, but did give us Bill Nighy as the totally awesome Davey Jones. I thought his addition alone was enough to overlook some of the more outrageous fight scenes and increasingly convoluted plot.
An unstoppable money making machine at this point, not to mention the fact that they left the audience with a huge, Sylvester Stone sized cliffhanger, it was obvious that the third installment would be forthcoming. So the movie makers just went ahead, cranked everything up to 11 for the second time, and tried to give audiences that sweet fix of “Pirates” they could mainline straight into their eyeballs. Oh, you guys like the zany Captain Jack idiosyncrasies? Well we’re gonna make him bat-shit INSANE this time! All those original moments of comedy that we already milked dry in the second movie? Well we’re gonna beat them to DEATH like a red headed step child this time! The seamlessly integrated special effects that we used to use sparingly to drive forward a compelling story? Well fuck that, because we’re gonna green screen the entire thing so that we can give you wildly unrealistic action sequences that would make Michael Bay blush this time!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that the latest installment of Pirates is sucking fumes off an empty gas tank from the franchise. I’m trying to recall anything fun, fresh, or new from the 136 minute run time, but nothing springs to mind. Oh, and they also basically neutered Barbossa, who I thought made a fantastic bad guy the first time around. I have no idea what his deal is in “Tides.” Hero? Villain? Tired, used up, husk of a character who’s been shoehorned into another adventure? Yeah, that’s the one. And I love Ian McShane, but his Blackbeard character was pretty worthless. He’s the main, I don’t know, antagonist? Kind of bland for a such a fearsome pirate. Also, he’s an idiot strategist.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Pirates movie without a romantic subplot to help give the characters more depth and the ladies something to swoon about. Enter the missionary and the mermaid, which had all the amorous appeal of rotting whale carcass. I could not have cared less about these two. They had the sexual chemistry of Tom and Jerry. And their whirlwind love affair could not have been more trite if it had been written by a cancer ridden Nicholas Sparks with dementia about to get shipped off to Afghanistan.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!