Sebastian Dziallas

wrangler of learning tools

He Is Back. Wait, He Is Still a Pirate?

Hold your breath, y’all – there might be spoilers waiting for you here. Yar!

Yes, indeed. He is back. Captain Jack Sparrow returns in On Stranger Tides, where everybody seems to engage in a franctic search for the mysterious fountain of youth. That is to say, everybody except Jack Sparrow who finds himself not too soon under arrest by the authories. He escapes and almost literally runs into his former lover Angelica. Swordfights ensue and after a while, our hero ends up on a ship. At this point, the story really kicks off and a hunt for this highly desirable fountain of youth emerges.

picture by Sandeep Pawar taken from Flickr used under a CC-BY license

At a first glance, nothing has changed since the glorious old days. Did I just say glorious? Let’s be honest: the first part of the series (and I was totally about to type triology) The Curse of the Black Pearl was a masterpiece. Granted, the second part came with a spactacularly obvious cliff hanger, but the third one made more than up for it. Does anybody still remember the witty world bullets Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley were shooting back and forth? That was classy.

So how did Rob Marshall, the new director who took the lead from Gore Verbinski, do here? He obviously brought the Pirates of the Caribbean into the third dimension, a trend in modern cinema (whether or not that makes a good trend is an entirely different question). Congratulations. But this would be more an achievement if there was actually something that resembled a 3D experience present. The swordfights – and there are quite some of them – do gain undeniably intensity, for sure. But was that it? Some swordfights and a number of leaves and plants that stick into the spectators eye, rather than remain on the screen? Seriously?

But meanwhile, Jack has discovered that a lot of people are more or less after this fountain of youth for various reasons. And so he figures he’d better be too, leaving the audience wondering after the first ten minutes whether they ended up in an Indiana Jones movie. The plot takes incredibly predictable turns that even the noticably forced, witty conversations between Jack and Angelica are unable to make up.

Don’t get me wrong, On Stranger Tides is by no means a bad movie. But it had the potential to be a great one – its makers missed that opportunity: it’s Just Another Movie.

Pirates of the Caribbean used to be not just another movie; every part of the triology was unique. On Stranger Tides, however, just feels like it was intentionally designed to continue the franchise. And that wouldn’t be a problem, if it wasn’t the overarching feeling. Unfortunately, it is. It simply made me want to go and finally get the triology on DVD. Good ol’ time.

But wait, doesn’t that mean it succeeded?