Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides -- 79/100
The Curse of the Black Pearl was the first film that I can remember that I was anticipating heavily and became obsessed with while in the cinema. I made it my goal at the time to see the film, despite my moms disapproval. My mom still has the "hate letters" I wrote her because she wouldn't let me see the movie... but one day my dad took me to see Sinbad, an animated film at the time, but at the last minute, to my moms dismay, took me to see Pirates of the Caribbean. As you can imagine, 11 year old me loved it and to this day I think of The Curse of the Black Pearl as one of my favorite films. To make a long story short, these films are close to the chest.
I'll be the first to admit that I enjoyed the first two sequels, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, although I can see how someone without childhood emotional ties to the franchise would feel differently. That all being said, the first 40 minutes of On Stranger Tides were tough to watch. I quickly realized that due to this film having a different director and the lack of Swan and Turner that this film was going to be very different tonally... it wasn't as dark as the original film, or even the previous sequels for that matter, and without the characters of Elizabeth and Will, there was a hole that needed to be appropriately filled. On Stranger Tides unfortunately doesn't have visual continuity with the previous films, which I can only attribute to a new director and the use of the Red One MX as opposed to 35mm, like the previous films. Like him or not, Gore Verbinski was the Pirates franchise, and his presence was missed by me.
Anyway, the first 40 minutes of the film didn't play with the same sense of natural ease as the original, and even the bloated sequels... things felt forced, used, and boring. Luckily once we made it to Blackbeard's ship, things started to get better. The plot became more interesting, and the characters more entertaining. Soon enough, the hole left by Will and Elizabeth was filled by Philip and Syrena... but not because of the writing. Astrid Berges-Frisbey's beauty catches your eye, and soon her mannerisms do to. You can't help but root for her and those on her side, in this case Philip. Anyone would see her expressions of sadness, hurt, and innocence and be drawn to helping her immediately... I know I did. When she was on screen it was rather intoxicating... I couldn't peel away for a second.
But that of course only helps to hide the straight forward and predictable narrative that follows. Unfortunately the film didn't do anything we haven't seen from a Pirates film before. Jack's actions are getting old, and without the same tonal style as the first films I felt myself uninvested and care less during scenes that didn't include Astrid Berges-Frisbey.