May 222011

I saw this POTC: On Stranger Tides on opening day because I was terrified of spoilers. I am also a big fan of pirates in general and I am pretty sure I would be there on opening day even if they remade Treasure Island starring Sarah Palin. I have a fondness and some may say weakness for pirates, so I understand that I am not an unbiased person.

So I watch this movie and I had a pretty fun time. More importantly, I think I felt a sense of relief that it did not suck. I liked POTC: at World’s End when it came out but within the week, my brain started poking holes in it and I found myself wondering why a pirate movie seemed to be 90% talking with little daring action. I think relief is the best way to describe how I feel about the current movie. It was good. It did not suck. It was fun.

A few days later though, I feel like the current movie is missing something. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Jack Sparrow is awesome in his not quite the best pirate/not quite the worse pirate ever. Penelope Cruz and her astounding beauty brings a mature sex appeal that Keira Knightley never had. Iam Mcshane is hilarious as Blackbeard, playing pretty much a supernatural Al Swearengen. Geoffrey Rush is back, and I really enjoy how he may sometimes be the villain, but he is arguably a better pirate than all of them. Everything about the movie was good.

But yet, it feels to me like it lacked something.

I think it lacks the sheer surprise of the first movie. The POTC movie was a shock. A movie about an amusement ride wasn’t supposed to be that much fun. Jack Sparrow was an enigma in that first movie. Now he is a favorite uncle. You are always glad to see him, but he is not the amazing pleasant surprise that he was in the first movie. You couldn’t imagine Jack Sparrow ahead of time, so when you saw him, he blew your mind. He is the same character now, but now you are just happy to see him. The joy that comes from the surprise can never be recaptured.

Which is what I think is what holds this movie back. It is a sequel and even if it is as good as the first movie, it is what we come to expect. It fails because it can not possibly surprise us unless it surpasses the original. That’s a tough fucking thing to do.

I’ve spent the past year working on a pirate anthology. I am pretty much hip deep in pirates all the time. I worried a little that I might be burnt out on pirates when I saw this movie. Instead,, I enjoyed this movie and it had quite a few bits that I wished I had written. It is a good movie. It is a fun movie. I don’t think there is a single thing I would change. The mermaids alone were worth waiting for.

It just can’t possibly be as good as we want it to be.

  4 Responses to “Spoiler Free Thoughts on POTC :On Stranger Tides”

  1. Not that it’s entirely relevant, but have you read the book that the new PotC movie is *loosely* based on? Tim Powers’ “On Stranger Tides” is quite fun, and has plenty of interesting ideas which I suspect the movie didn’t touch at all. Might be good for even more pirate inspiration, if you’re in need.

  2. I had heard about it but actually held off till I saw the movie. I have it coming by mail now. I am looking forward to it. I head it was also an inspiration for Monkey Island.

  3. Saw it last weekend after reading your review. I agree both that it didn’t suck and that it lacked the freshness of the first film.

    Leaving the theater, I wondered why some characters’ story lines have been continued while others were left out. Not to name any names (no spoilers) but it felt like they brought back the actors that were available just for the sake of having them back.

    All in all, it didn’t work for me.

  4. Funny, I was actually disappointed that more characters didn’t return. I have an infinite fondness for comic relief characters.

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