Monthly Archives: May 2011

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

on stranger tides one sheetIt’s a cinematic rule of thumb: the further into a series, the worse the film. There are a lot of reasons for this but the primary is that the first film in a series always introduces the characters, the world they inhabit, and the basic tension between them. In the Pirates of the Caribbean series, we first met Johnny Depp’s memorable Captain Jack Sparrow in The Curse of the Black Pearl, and it was a delightful film, a fun amusement park ride even more entertaining than the eponymous Disneyland ride upon which it was based.

Then came Dead Man’s Chest which was mediocre but still enjoyable in that it let us revisit with Captain Sparrow, Orlando Bloom as the rough and ready blacksmith Will Turner and Kiera Knightly as the lovely Elizabeth Swann. With more than a bit of hubris, director Gore Verbinski filmed Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, the third installment, simultaneously, and it showed. The third installment was a chaotic, incomprehensible mess and even the addition of popular action star Yun-Fat Chow as Captain Sao Feng failed to redeem this dismal, poorly performing sequel.
Indeed, Verbinski quit after the first three Pirates films and part four, On Stranger Tides, is directed by Rob Marshall. There are also significant casting changes: Depp is back as Sparrow, but Bloom and Knightly are both notably absent, the latter replaced by the less talented actor Penelope Cruz, who plays Angelica, daughter of dread pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane).
The good news? I enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides much more than I expected. There’s a welcome acknowledgement of the importance of storyline, an almost complete lack of the incomprehensible supernatural scenes in At World’s End, and a narrative that actually made sense as the film progressed. 
The story is a race to the fabled Fountain of Youth, as originally sought by Spaniard Ponce De Leon two hundred years prior to the narrative time of the film. Sparrow (Depp) ends up shanghaid as part of Blackbeard’s crew, while recurring foil Captain Barbarossa (Geoffrey Rush) heads up the English privateer’s vessel, guided by Gibbs (Kevin McNally). The Spanish, meanwhile, have also discovered critical clues to the whereabouts of the Fountain and have sent three ships to the New World, seeking to arrive first.
On Stranger Tides is a long film, over two hours, and it drags in spots as the early scenes seem unrelated to the main story but instead an excuse to slip in a few more entertaining action sequences, but it’s definitely better then the second and third films and if you’re a fan of the original you’ll enjoy this fourth installment. 

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Join DaveOnFilm for an epic ‘Lord of the Rings’ event!

This is pretty awesomely cool, film fans! NCM Fathom is going to be showing The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Trilogy at a bunch of theaters throughout the US for one night only on the big screen, one movie per week for three weeks, late in June.

lotr extended edition

They’re going to be shown at a bunch of places, but in the interest of us all having a midpoint where we can meet and watch this together, I’m picking the AMC Flatiron Crossing 14 in Broomfield, CO for the showings.

The schedule?

* The Fellowship of the Ring (w/ 49 minutes of additional footage!) at 7pm on June 14th
* The Two Towers (w/ 56 additional minutes) at 7pm on June 21
* The Return of the King (w/ 62 minutes of additional footage) at 7pm on the 28th of June.

Frustratingly, I can’t actually make the first night, but I’m definitely scoring tickets for parts II and III and would love to have a bunch of people join me!

In addition to the significant amount of extra footage, Jackson has also recorded new introductions to the films. As Fathom’s team explains: “fans will be treated to personal introductions to each film from Jackson, which were captured on the set of his current film The Hobbit, all making this an historic series that can only be experienced on the big screen.”

So what say you, DaveOnFilm reader? Want to join us for a LotR extravaganza in Broomfield, Colorado for a few evenings in June, 2011? If so, buy your tickets, then email me and let’s coordinate!

By the way, if you’re really, really, really into it, the Extended Edition on Blu-ray will be released on June 28th too. On (ready for this?) 15 discs. Yes. 15 discs. Yikes.

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