pirates 4: on shaky ground?

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With the girls safely dispatched for the week, my mission is to get out for as many child-free activities as possible, this first of these being a visit to the BFI IMAX cinema at Waterloo to see Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides. I’m not ashamed to admit to being a staunch Pirates fan; I’ve seen every film so far, more than once, and pre-ordered the Lego Pirates of the Caribbean Wii game, which I’ve already completed up to the end of the third film (the only reason I haven’t started the fourth is in case of spoilers, obviously). Plus, Johnny Depp is HOT.

H.O.T.

It was my first visit to the IMAX, which I was very impressed with; there’s a very civilised café and bar downstairs, with another bar upstairs as well as the usual pix & mix, popcorn etc. The screen itself is HUGE, 20 feet high apparently, and bigger than I could have imagined. We were on the back row and still had a great view. Even the seats themselves are far superior to regular cinema seats, being both much bigger and with more space around them so you’re not bumping elbows with your neighbour (unless you want to, of course).

But back to the film; my view may have a slight bias I guess, but I’ll try to keep it as fair as possible. I already knew that the critics had panned it so was prepared for the worst; I may be a fan, but I’m also a realist.

The film more or less starts with Jack Sparrow doing what he does best; escaping from the authorities by swinging on various things while dropping one-liners with a poker-dumb face. For that alone, I love him. Ok, so the plot’s rather shaky not to mention hard to follow in places (the opening scene was two men in a boat but I honestly don’t know who they were, what they were doing or why they were there).

For me, the absence of Keira and Orlando didn’t make that much of an impact; I thought Penelope Cruz was well cast and there was definite chemistry between her and Jonny Depp, not necessarily of a sexual nature but then that’s not really what Pirates is all about. The love interest came in the form of a too-good(looking)-to-be-true clergy and a mermaid, although it was a bit weak and more of an aside to the plot rather than an integral part.

I also have to say that 3D did not add ANYTHING of value to the film. I’m not a big fan of 3D for non-animated films in any case, but half the time the film was so dark the effects were barely visible and the rest of the time the few effects there were seemed to be half-hearted afterthoughts. Plus I found myself looking for the effects, which distracted me from watching the film AND the glasses were uncomfortable. Ok, I’ll stop complaining now.

Overall, although I enjoyed the film, I can see that many won’t, and while the first three films were equally strong (in my view, at least), the curse of the blockbuster sequel seems to have touched this one. My heart almost sank at the end when I realised they were lining things up for a fifth film. I can only hope that number 4 was a blip and that Pirates doesn’t go the way of the Superman franchise.

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