Wednesday, 18 May 2011



Arrrrr! Drink up, ye scurvy knaves! Here be.... Sorry, but just because the new Pirates movie boasts dialogue with a heroic disregard for the basics of English as bellowed by spectacularly bearded eccentrics, doesn't mean I'm going to continue in some kind of piratical parley. Especially when bringing the news that the new Pirates movie is, for all its faults, mercifully better than the second and third ones, harking back more to the original as a spectacular adventure romp and refreshingly free of insipid romantic sludge from Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. If there's one thing to place Part 4 above the last two films, it's that they're not in it. They're not even mentioned. Maybe the makers are trying to convince the world, Stalin-like, that it never actually happened.

In fact, only three characters from the original trilogy make it to Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - four if you count a one-scene cameo from Keith Richards. Gibbs (Kevin McNally), Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and of course Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), all get involved in a race across the Atlantic, not just against each other but the fiendish Spaniards as well, to locate the Fountain Of Youth before the legendary Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his frankly untrustworthy daughter, the non-angelic Angelica (Penelope Cruz) can take it for themselves. Much double-crossing and triple-crossing ensue (whose side are any of these people on?) on the quest to find the two chalices of Ponce De Leon and the tears of a mermaid which are needed to perform the Profane Ritual and grant more life - though (moral lesson alert!) at someone else's expense.

Shorn of the tedious Bloom-Knightley love story, and putting the more interesting Jack Sparrow towards the centre of things, it's much more fun (Depp gets most of the funny lines) and overall it is a distinct improvement on Part 2 (which had all the boring Flying Dutchman stuff in it) and Part 3 (which was better but went on for an insanely long time). Though it takes a while to get going with some London-set stuff that could be trimmed substantially, much of the movie rattles along fairly speedily against an enjoyable Hans Zimmer score (which does admittedly sound very similar to the earlier scores from him and Klaus Badelt), and the cast are obviously having fun. The effects are generally up to par, but so they damn should be for the kind of money Disney spend on these things (reportedly $200,000,000 - think about that kind of money next time you're walking past Barnardos or the Heart Foundation shops).

If you found Depp's characterisation annoying in the first three, you'll probably find him even more annoying this time round because he's in it more and has more to do (he doesn't show up in POTC3 for about half an hour). POTC4:OST is certainly too long, and there's the inevitable post-credits bonus bit which is clearly setting up Part 5 (apparently there'll also be a Part 6, according to the IMDb). It's being shown in 2D and a 3D conversion: frankly the 2D print is more than adequate as there appear to be only a few moments where there's obviously something pointing or leaping out of the screen. Save your doubloons and see the flat version which is how it was shot in the first place. And make sure kids understand that the appalling standards of grammar are not acceptable in the real world.


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