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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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Scott Roberts
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
on May 23, 2011 at 2:11:33 pm

After a day of letting Pirates 4 sit in my brain, there is no question in my mind that this movie should have never existed. It might have been a slight improvement over the two sequels before it (mostly due to the absence of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly; the two most pointless, annoying characters of the series), but to be better than Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End isn’t really too much of an accomplishment. Legally Blonde is more entertaining to me than those two sequels. On Stranger Tides is just an overlong side story featuring Jack Sparrow, a character who we once all loved. When he was used sparingly. Now he’s in every scene.

But also gone are the schlocky comic relief crew of the Black Pearl, except for mutton-chopped Gibbs (who’s actually kind of funny in this). Barbosa is back again. At this point I don’t even remember why he’s still alive. I’m sure it was explained at some point during the other two sequels, but I distinctly remember him dying at the end of the first movie… Now he’s basically a good guy in this new one, and eventually the film even devolves into a buddy film, with Jack and Barbosa teaming up for set piece related physical comedy.

The best part of the whole movie was the scene with the mermaids. I think it was the only scene where a threat of death was actually present. Most of the time spent with the "dangerous" Blackbeard is annoying. I think they tried to make him a complex villain, as some sort of ruthless superpower that is conflicted with the thought of dying. It makes him seem rather weak and non-threatening, actually. He’s not nearly as complex as they made the squid faced fellow from the last movie. I was surprised, though, at the restraint of Ian McShane from doing an over-the-top corny theater-esk performance. That's kind of what I was expecting from the trailers. But he mostly ended up phoning it in pretty mediocre until the end, when he did kind of have some moments of “actIIIIIINNGGG” going on. And Penelope Cruz does a good job of looking great, and not being annoying. I gotta say though, for some reason, she is one of the only actresses that I just will always have a sour taste in my mouth for what her character did in a movie; Blow (also with Johnny Depp!). I know she’s probably nothing like her character in Blow, but I don’t know, for some reason I think I will always generally dislike Penelope Cruz for that movie.

I saw On Stranger Tides in 3D. It wasn’t noticeably bad 3D or anything. It went for a mostly subtle depth enhancing approach, not too many things flying at the camera. I can’t complain about that aspect. The visual effects were also good, and there were a many a decent sword fight on some neat sets. I thought some of the sword fights in the last two sequels were Star Wars prequel type messes, filling every inch of the screen with as much crap as their render engines could output. At least On Stranger Tides had more interesting action scenes, more like the first Pirates than the other two.

The comedy aspect of it? It’s more amusing than outwardly funny. I think I only had an audible laugh once or twice in the 141 minute film. Not a great minute-to-laugh ratio. It feels like 8 years later, the Jack Sparrow schtick has lost much of its initial charm.

On Stranger Tides is a film with no beginning or end. It is just one giant middle. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. Maybe I didn’t even like it. But I don’t think it’s a movie worth badmouthing too much, as it’s essentially harmless. It most definitely could have lost 45 minutes out of its running time. I can see why people would like it, but to overlook its glaring flaws basically requires shutting your brain off. And I’m under the opinion you shouldn’t need to shut your brain off to have a good time. On Stranger Tides exists; it was made, released, watched by many. Congratulations to the cast & crew for making a buttload of money over the weekend ($90 mil). But… no more Pirates after this please… Instead lets work on somehow turning Space Mountain into a film series. That was always a better ride in my opinion anyway!


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Tim Wilson
Re: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
on May 23, 2011 at 3:17:31 pm

[Scott Roberts] "I saw On Stranger Tides in 3D. It wasn’t noticeably bad 3D or anything. It went for a mostly subtle depth enhancing approach, not too many things flying at the camera. I can’t complain about that aspect"

I can! And I will! This movie is based on AN AMUSEMENT PARK RIDE!!!! If ever there was a movie that should have had EVERYTHING flying out of the screen, this is it! What an incredibly blown opportunity. Truly inexcusable.

I think it's indicative of a conservatism and misplaced attempt at gravitas that sunk the movie like a stone. See, I hated the mermaid stuff...although I bet that there's a fifth movie, and I bet that it includes at least one mermaid couple.

But I could not possibly have cared less about real peril or threat of death in a movie like this. I thought there was too much death as it is, including some of unexpected cruelty. Sure, these are pirates, but even Blackbeard in this context is in a movie based on AN AMUSEMENT PARK RIDE!!!

It was also waaaaaay too long. I would have shortened every scene but one, and I would have shortened every action sequence but one by at least half. This should have been 100 minutes tops.

I liked Penelope and Ian quite a bit....although peep Catherine Zeta-Jones in Zorro to see how a strong a swordfighting woman can be. Keith Richards's punchline was the best in the movie, and got the loudest laugh from my skewing much older than me (and I'm in my 50s) audience. There were other laughs, but I agree, way too few. I swear that there would have been more laughs in a shorter version of this movie, with no other changes.

And while I wouldn't say that Orlando and Keira were ever my favorite parts of the Pirate movies, in retrospect, they were the center of the story. What made the first one work so well is that Jack was a wonderful character in the "Supporting Plus" sized category. Sword humor aside, call him a foil. I say this as a huge fan of Johnny Depp and Jack Sparrow, but the movies have gotten lamer as his time in the spotlight has grown, and I'm not sure that we can go back from here.

Again, I can't say strongly enough how much I enjoy Johnny as Jack, even in this movie. But it's a lot easier to eat a huge peanut butter sandwich than it is to eat even a moderate amount of peanut butter on its own. There needed to be at least one major parallel storyline (not Barbossa's minor, and quickly merged branch) or an additional small set of grouped charactters for balance. There's a brief bit with a newly-formed couple that was lovely, but too little too late.

I had high hopes for at least some great fight choreography from director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine), but other than half of the first fight, I just didn't see it.

I really hate saying anything negative about a movie like this, where so many talented teams and individuals did great jobs: great rigging on the Queen Anne, set design for the city square outside the court, a wonderful carriage chase near the opening, some impressive scenes in largest-scale location 3D shoot yet (and some great nature-oriented 3D in particular), great use of color in a necessarily limited palette, stuntpeople, makeup (always the longest suit of these movies for me, even more than stunts), and a killer performance by Sam Claflin as a young cleric to name but a few. There was a lot to admire about the craft...but as a whole, I was hoping for more.

And less.


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Smith Brown
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
on Nov 8, 2011 at 11:16:17 am

Awesome Series of POC

Captain Jack Sparrow Rocks !! :)

convert FLV to MP4 | convert FLV to MOV


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Mike Cohen
Re: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
on May 23, 2011 at 3:21:04 pm

Scott

Another useful review. I was thinking of seeing this in 2D over the weekend, but read a few reviews suggesting the same things you did.
Gore Verbinski is no doubt breathing a sigh of relief. I heard they greenlit this project before a script was even written. Transformers 2 started shooting before a script was written. Revenge of the Sith wrapped before a script was written (ouch).

I enjoyed Part 1 which we watched while on a cruise in the Caribbean. Part 2 was fun on DVD. Part III may have been ok but I literally slept through most of it at the theater.

There are few Disney attractions not based upon a movie, so Pirates was a natural choice. Although they have now ruined the 1950's nostalgia of this ride by adding animatronics of Johnny Depp and friends. The Haunted Mansion movie apparently didn't go so well - so lucky for us Eddie Murphy won't be added to the ride. It's scary enough!

There's always the Jungle Cruise, Hall of Presidents or my all time favorite - Carousel of Progress.

Supposedly John Favreau is making "Magic Kingdom" the movie.

Mike Cohen


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Tim Wilson
Re: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
on May 23, 2011 at 4:48:42 pm

[Mike Cohen] "Transformers 2 started shooting before a script was written."

Bay has recently been explaining that it started shooting as the writer's strike was getting underway He pointed out that he had to balance his commitment to jobs for 3000 people against his genuine support of 3 of them going on strike. I think he made the right call, and don't think that the movie was as bad as a lot of other people thought, including Bay. That said, I realllly want to see what he does when he feels in he has something to prove - not to critics, but to himself and his own fans.

Talking some more about Pirates with my wife just now, she said that she was blown away by the ship in this one. The ropes, the sails, the sense that this is a magical ship in a way that the Black Pearl never did - it really was a work of genuine art on its own, and the best of the movie in 3D. I completely agree. I shouldn't have brushed past it in a dependent clause in my previous post.


[Mike Cohen] "I heard they greenlit this project before a script was even written"

The script for the 5th movie has already been submitted, and the folks involved like the look of it so far. Johnny has said he's up for it, but wants to wait a bit. They really were pushing to do the last two only a year apart. As much as I'd have loved to see Harry Potter movies annually, and the Daniel Craig James Bond movies on about that pace, I think a breather from these will be helpful to all concerned.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
on May 23, 2011 at 5:07:31 pm

I heard Johnny Depp was recently seen house hunting near where I work. If I run into him at the local diner I'll be sure to ask him about these movies.

I am eagerly anticipating Transformers Darkside of the Moon. The Great Gig in the Sky is my favorite track.

Using Chicago instead of LA is a good move. Downtown LA where they shot the first one is far too generic looking. The preview showing Marina City and other Chicago landmarks getting ripped apart looks incredible. I have spent a lot of time in Chicago over the years.


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Scott Roberts
Re: Disney Theme Park Rides
on May 24, 2011 at 2:14:27 pm

[Mike Cohen] "There's always the Jungle Cruise, Hall of Presidents or my all time favorite - Carousel of Progress."

Sorry to take this off the topic of Pirates for a post, but stay on the topic of Disney theme park rides, but haha oh man, Mike, I completely forgot of the existence of the Carousel of Progress! Just hearing the name instantly brought back a childhood memory of it, and I had to look on YouTube to see if I could experience it again. Sure enough, it's there! I don't know if this is the exact same version I saw in the early 90s, but it's still good.

Check out around the 15:30 mark for a glimpse into the year 2000! It's actually surprisingly restrained!

<iframe width="480" height="390" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/KKz6qdexetY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe>



And since you brought up the Haunted Mansion, I actually saw this video a few weeks ago; but they have updated the technology on that ride too, with new animated ghosts, instead of the old robot ones. And it's actually pretty cool. They can apparently track the passengers head's with their new technology, and switch your head around with the person next to you and such. It's kind of brilliant.

<iframe width="560" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/DxmSGxZPAdk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe>


And just to bring it back to film history and appreciation, when is Disney going to release Song of the South for public consumption? We all know it's kind of racist, but I would like to check it out again. I remember some kid had a copy of it in college somehow and actually threw a kegger in honor of watching the movie, haha (that's Southern Illinois University film students for ya). So that's the only time I've ever seen it: intoxicated at a loud party.

Apparently (upon just looking it up) it still gets heavily talked about at Disney shareholder meetings and such. From Wikipedia:

In March 2010, Disney CEO Robert Iger reiterated that there are no current plans to release the movie on DVD, calling the film 'antiquated' and 'fairly offensive'. Most recently, however, on November 15, 2010, Disney creative director Dave Bossert stated in an interview, “I can say there’s been a lot of internal discussion about 'Song of the South'. And at some point we’re going to do something about it. I don’t know when, but we will. We know we want people to see 'Song of the South' because we realize it’s a big piece of company history, and we want to do it the right way.”

What does that have to do with Disney theme park rides? Well, it's the basis of one of my favorite rides from my trip to Disney world in the 2nd grade - Splash Mountain! Who knew such a controversial film could create such an awesome children's ride??

<iframe width="480" height="390" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/-reUCySma4Y" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe>



Well, OK, just to bring it back full circle to Pirates... Here's a humorous video of Johnny Depp getting face-to-face with his animatronic self on the updated Pirates of the Caribbean ride:

<iframe width="480" height="390" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/bTQ5eWBlApY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe>


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Mark Suszko
Re: Disney Theme Park Rides
on May 24, 2011 at 4:50:37 pm

Every year at the state fair there's a booth in the expo building where a guy sells DVD collections of old B&W TV shows and movies and he always has copies of SOTS. They must be boots, but everything looks very high-end in the packaging.


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Scott Roberts
Re: Disney Theme Park Rides
on May 26, 2011 at 2:28:10 pm

I try and avoid buying DVDs unless they are used and less than $5. I want Disney to release one of their usual "extremely limited time only" Deluxe 9-Disc Special Edition Blu-rays of Song of the South, that I can then wait 6 months and get for half the price when they realize they manufactured too many copies.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Disney Theme Park Rides
on May 26, 2011 at 4:37:18 pm

I recently read "The Kingdom" about Michael Eisner's rise and fall at Disney.
The Disney brass were reluctant to release any of the classics on VHS, thinking it would impact their "every 7 years return to theaters for limited engagement" revenue.

So they tried it with a 2nd tier classic (ie, not Snow White, Bambi, Dumbo or Pinocchio) and made about $100 million, having their most profitable year since the last Love Bug movie. The rest is history, and Michael Eisner's Lamborghini collection thanks him.

So home video sales basically funded Disney for the rest of the 80's, offsetting the huge losses they took on Paris Disneyland.

Has anyone been to the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco? I am hoping to visit there in October.

Mike Cohen


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Mike Cohen
Re: Disney Theme Park Rides
on May 31, 2011 at 2:20:26 pm

While I enjoy a long holiday weekend, I do get a bit bored sitting around the house. So I went to see Pirates in 2D at the theater just 2 miles from my house.

After the first hour I was not too pleased. The action was not very exciting (the pastry scene was silly, the carriage chase reminded me of 5 other chase scenes, and the initial sword fight in the bar was really not very interesting.) The rousing Pirates fanfare is introduced whenever some bit of action happens, perhaps to make it seem more exciting that it really is.

But then the mermaids appear and the movie kicked into gear. Sure there was not much in the way of good fighting, and not as much natural humor as the earlier films - it was more of a quest than anything, but it had a satisfying plot.

They had a mere $150 million budget, and the Caribbean is looking a lot like Hawaii these days. I was reluctant to acknowledge another Pirates movie's obvious attempt to make Disney some quick cash (and Johnny Depp who supposedly was paid $50 million (seems kind of high). But they have succeeded.

I do think Geoffrey Rush could have turned up the volume on his performance - he seemed subdued. And Blackbeard was not as over the top as he could have been. Although perhaps none of the characters should take Jack Sparrow's spotlight away. Penelope Cruz was fun but underused and could have been replaced by a lower paid actress with the same effect. Basically, aside from Jack, none of the other characters were as over the top as in previous episodes.

No doubt a 5th and final movie is now in the works. Perhaps it will involve Vikings or Eskimos.

Yo ho, yo ho.

Mike Cohen


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Scott Roberts
Re: Disney Theme Park Rides
on Jun 1, 2011 at 2:40:04 pm

[Mike Cohen] "No doubt a 5th and final movie is now in the works. Perhaps it will involve Vikings or Eskimos."

I'm banking on Jack sparrow fighting aliens. Pirates of the Caribbean: Search for the Crystal Skull. He can reunite with his long lost son, swing on vines with some monkeys, maybe even find the world's first refrigerator and survive an explosion in it.


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Mike Cohen
back to Pirates - now discussing Part V
on Jun 1, 2011 at 3:07:49 pm

[Scott Roberts] "I'm banking on Jack sparrow fighting aliens. Pirates of the Caribbean: Search for the Crystal Skull. He can reunite with his long lost son, swing on vines with some monkeys, maybe even find the world's first refrigerator and survive an explosion in it."

That sounds awesome. Perhaps the 17th century equivalent of Russians could be involved (or actually use Russians who did in fact exist in the Pirates era, though not the Communist variety).

Maybe it will turn out that Jack's long lost son is actually Penelope Cruz's son too - they do have a history together.

Open on the outskirts of London. A horse and carriage is racing towards the city. Outside of a large warehouse, Jack and Gibbs are pulled out of the carriage. The Russian Pirate Ivana Mockingbird appears, and forces Jack at gunpoint to enter the warehouse and retrieve a coffin containing some supernatural artifact last seen on the Black Pearl. Hijinks ensue, and it turns out Gibbs is a double agent working against Jack - no longer content to be the Sidekick.

Jack fights the Russians, escapes on an experimental horseless carriage, and finds himself on an artillery range. He of course survives and then meets his son who is attending Oxford where Jack goes to steal some other artifact.

Chaos ensues featuring a carriage vs horse chase around campus. Jack Jr reveals numerous highly unlikely facts and the pair hop aboard a privateer's ship en route to South America.

Oh heck, you know the story. With Jack Sparrow it may actually be more entertaining.

To be filmed in 4D just to give that extra dimension to the one-dimensional characters, bringing them up to regular 2D for 3D projection. I understand the 4D technique will soon be applied to Hayden Christensen, but that's another thread coming in 2012.

Mike Cohen


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Scott Roberts
Re: back to Pirates - now discussing Part V
on Jun 1, 2011 at 7:49:41 pm

It's actually pretty insane/scary that the plot you outlined there doesn't seem like that far off from the reality of a Pirates 5 plot outline, haha.

"Jack Sparrow is a swashbuckling pirate. Davey Sparrow is an Oxford brainiac. They were living separate lives, until one day it allllllll changed. Jack needs Oxford's hidden treasure. Davey wants the eye of a young lass with a taste for pirates. Davey has the skeleton key to access Oxford's secret throne room, but the only way Jack can get what he wants is to make Davey a savvy pirate bachelor. It's high seas meets high class! Join us summer 2012 for wacky hijinks with the man on campus who's got a magic compass, in Pirates of the Caribbean: Pirate Knows Best...!"

-Brought to you by Disney's NON-Pixar related creative team.


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Tim Wilson
Re: back to Pirates - now discussing Part V
on Jun 1, 2011 at 8:11:00 pm

I guarantee you, one million percent, that #5 will include the young cleric at the very least, an actor who has become HUGE in Europe on the heels of this...and Pirates is still the #1 movie in Europe. Trust me, the folks at Disney have noticed this.

I also wouldn't be surprised to see mermaids again, hence the young cleric. But mermaids or no, he's in I betcha.

It's definitely going to include Penelope. Pre-sales surveys at Fandango, where Pirates at one point was responsible for over 80% of online sales, showed that Penelope Cruz was the draw for 61% of buyers. I suspect that this result was skewed by the wording of the question...but hey, #4 ended with her marooned. #5 ain't gonna happen without her. There's no doubt whatsoever that she was a major draw, again, especially in Europe.

Latest tally, btw: $166m US, $472m foreign, a 26-74 split on a total of $639m so far. That's before we kick in DVD, cable, etc. down the road.

There WILL be a 5. I promise. Of course, it all depends on money and availability, and I'm guessing that plenty of money will be available.


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Mike Cohen
Re: back to Pirates - now discussing Part V
on Jun 1, 2011 at 8:57:25 pm

During filming in London, Johnny Depp visited a local grammar school in full Jack Sparrow regalia. I give this guy a lot of kudos for really becoming the characters. Sure, you can see Johnny Depp in the Mad Hatter, Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka and Edward Scissorhands - as it should be. But he really becomes those outlandish characters. It would be interesting to see him in rehearsal footage without all the makeup and costuming. That footage of him interacting with his animatronic self is cool because you see what a low-key guy he is in real life - it is almost a wonder he has so much energy on screen.

He has also had a few good roles playing a regular human being. I did not really care for the Tourist, but I'm sure he did not mind hanging with Angelina in Venice for 3 months. I liked Nick of Time. And his human but not so normal roles have all been memorable.

And according to our friends at IMDB, as expected, at least someone is thinking of part V.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1790809/

Mike Cohen


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Scott Roberts
Re: back to Pirates - now discussing Part V
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:47:54 pm

Yeah I don't mean to rag on Depp for being Jack Sparrow or anything. I loved that character in the first movie. I'm sure if I was a little kid when the Pirates movies came out, I'd likely have a Jack Sparrow action figure. I guess if he keeps the kids happy, he's serving his purpose. Though, I have to imagine more than a few kids were slightly bored with this last installment, no?

But he's had several great non-kids movies that he's done really good things in; like Blow, From Hell, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, etc. And I'm also a fan of his early work with Tim Burton (not his later stuff, ohhhhhhh man, not the later stuff...). Depp ain't my favorite actor, but I certainly don't think too negatively of him, and not many should. But even though (as has been agreed upon in this thread) there will be a Pirates 5, I'm personally not too excited about that. Unless JJ Abrams directed it or something.


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Mike Cohen
Re: back to Pirates - now discussing Part V
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:51:24 pm

[Scott Roberts] "But even though (as has been agreed upon in this thread) there will be a Pirates 5, I'm personally not too excited about that. Unless JJ Abrams directed it or something."

Pirates of Lens Flares!

Nice.


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Tim Wilson
Re: back to Pirates - now discussing Part V
on Jun 2, 2011 at 12:06:19 am

Best Depp-Burton collaboration: Sleepy Hollow.

I wonder if perhaps the studio wasn't sure what they had on their hands. The trailer is certainly a bit of a mess, and misses most of the best pictures from the picture, which they could have used without giving away the plot...which seems like less and less a concern these days...



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Stephen Smith
Re: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:06:27 pm

Just watch Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and what in the world was that? Why did Penelope Cruz want to save Blackbeard? Why did Jack Sparrow save hear life to only leave her stranded on a island? Why did the Mermaid help out Jack Sparrow and how did she even know that he was going to lose the cups in the water? What happened to the preacher? Can someone also explain the 2001: Space Odyssey?

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