By: Oberst von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
It be a cruel world for Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), after gaining back th’ Black Pearl at worlds end, he promptly lost it again to nemesis Hector Barbossa. And now he be in even more trouble, captured by Blackbeard and forced to guide a journey to the Fountain of Youth. Will Captain Jack’s ship be returned? Or will he be strapped to the yardarm of the Queen Anne’s Revenge forever? It is indeed an Adventure, Yaaarggh!
If you enjoyed the first movie, but didn’t like the bloated nature of the sequels it should please you to know that this is a far more concise story, and totally self contained. It has plenty of the humor and action that made the original so satisfying, and made the sequels at least watchable. Particularly amusing are the early scenes with Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa, where in an attempt to blend in with English authorities, he displays a thin veneer of propriety. Ian McShane is definitely menacing as Blackbeard, with a thousand yard stare and a knack for torching people. The most satisfying new character however is Angelica (Penelope Cruz), Blackbeard’s Daughter and Jack’s on again/off again love interest. Jack and Angelica both act as if they are 12 steps ahead of each other, always plotting, and yet sharing genuine chemistry. Not since Monkey Island has a romance been this… Piraty?
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Director Rob Marshall & company don’t seem to understand the importance of pacing in film, because even though this is the shortest film in the franchise, it often loses its momentum. This is particularly noticeable in the scenes on Blackbeard’s ship, in which Jack attempts a mutiny. Even the action sequences can sometimes be thrown off by weak editing and as a result don’t always generate the excitement that they should. Say what you will about Gore Verbinski’s tendency to bloat the prior films, but at least the fights were always fun and original. The scene where Jack sword fights Angelica in the bar is wasted by familiarity, as it is nearly identical to the fight between Jack and Orlando Bloom’s character in the sword-smith’s shop from the first film. This and several other sequences feel less like callbacks to the original film and more like… well piracy?
Yeah, I went there
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Ian McShane’s Blackbeard is a fascinating character; he is cruel, devious, calculating, and completely underutilized. I actually ended up wishing the film was longer just to see more of his scenery chewing. How could the filmmakers have missed the opportunity to let McShane do what he does best? (That is act like a cruel, heartless bastard). Instead his character is reined in anytime he gets a chance to do something really evil. I would *Spoiler alert* not be so dissatisfied with his underuse if they were setting up to make him a major villain for the inevitable sequel, but instead they kill his character off in the most definitive way. If you want to see McShane play a real pirate, watch HBO.
“Welcome to fucking Deadwood! (It) Can be… combative!”
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Sometimes the film feels like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade meets Splash.
Of course, in this version of Splash, Daryl Hannah would be trying to eat Tom Hanks for about half the movie… which would probably be an improvement. Alright, maybe throw some pirates in there too. But there is a side plot involving one missionary’s love for a mermaid which is thrown in for little purpose other than to pad out time, and probably set you up for a sequel, given the odd way in which the story simply ends *Spoilers again!* with her dragging him to the bottom of the ocean.
This movie is… Look behind you! A three-headed Monkey!
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: anytime the King of England is referenced
Take a Drink: anytime Jack Sparrow says something confusing
Down a Shot: whenever Blackbeard is called by his real name, Edward Teach