Until recently with big-budget super-hero films opening in late March and April, Memorial Day weekend has long been the unofficial beginning of the summer movie season. When you take a look at the top ten box office movies over Memorial Day weekend what you find is a collection of sadly mediocre, and downright awful, films. Seven of the top ten are sequels. Of the six I’ve written full reviews for only two have received a passing rating. Memorial Day may begin the summer movie season, but, as these ten movies show, it’s far from the best summer blockbusters have to offer.
Honestly, I don’t know if Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is any better than the last two disappointing entries of the franchise or I simply don’t have it in me to care about what happens to these characters anymore. Even though the film did its best to remove the only thing I really liked from Dead Man’s Chest and World’s End (namely Keira Knightley), this one is certainly no worse the wear.
The story opens with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), once again without a boat or crew, on the search for the Fountain of Youth. And he’s not the only one. Others looking for the prize include the Spanish Armada, the British Navy under the command of Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and the nefarious Blackbeard (Ian McShane).
What follows is a mismatched tale which is part treasure hunt and part wacky reunion as Jack is forced to confront his feelings for an old flame (Penélope Cruz) who just happens to be Blackbeard’s daughter.
“There was a time when a pirate was free to make his own way in the world, but our time is coming to an end. Our enemies are united; they vow to destroy us. The Pirate Lords from the four corners of the Earth must stand together.”
The film begins, after a bizarre introduction about singing coins and eight pieces of nine (don’t ask) which is never satisfactorily explained, with Will (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) in Singapore.
Their visit has two purposes. The first is to gain the maps and ship necessary to travel to Davy Jone’s Locker and rescue Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). The second involves a poorly thought out, and even worse explained, plotline about a meeting of pirate lords, mysterious artifacts, and a goddess which Barbossa wants to use to fight back against Norrington’s (Jack Davenport) control of the seas.
After making a deal with Captain Sao Fang (Chow Yun-Fat) the group sails to rescue Jack (who doesn’t make his first appearance until more than 20 minutes into the film) who is lost in a bizarre land where he is haunted by mirror images of himself and stones which turn into crabs.
I stand by my assessment that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was better than The Curse of the Black Pearl, and now I can say it was the best of the three Pirates films. At World’s End is so clumsily and half-assedly assembled that it loses all of the fun its predecessors had, and fails to come up with a single justifiable excuse for wasting two hours and forty minutes.
Things pick up in this film pretty quickly after the end of Dead Man’s Chest, with the whole gang suddenly in Singapore asking a piratificated Chow Yun-Fat for a ship and a crew so that they might sail to Davy Jones’ Locker to retrieve Johnny Depp‘s Jack Sparrow. Which got me thinking – how did they get to Singapore without a ship and crew? That place is pretty far from the Caribbean from what I understand, and starting the movie with a plot hole that big is a pretty awful way to begin a film.