Several years ago we all embarked on the fun journey of Captain Jack Sparrow as he negotiated his way around the trickery and naval warfare and we loved it. At least we should’ve done; if you don’t like Curse of the Black Pearl, you’re wrong. I haven’t seen the second two films, though I’ve not heard particularly good things about them. Going into see the fourth, I had a deep sense of trepidation. The use of 3D is usually a sign of cheap promotion and not to mention the fact that few franchises can survive to their fourth instalment (Hi Crystal Skull!). And you know what? I was right.
There’s the notion that the only thing worse than a terrible film is a boring one and this is precisely the problem with Pirates 4. The film goes through all the motions, but has absolutely no heart in it. Characters are criminally under-used, such as the ‘villain’ Blackbeard and the Spanish lead, whilst others are over-used, such as Captain Jack. Jack’s character is not strong enough to build an entire film around, but this is essentially what happens here. I can’t even say the film starts with promise. There are a few smirk-inducing lines and a bit of, essentially, slap-stick before a done-before action sequence, the first of many. And before you have time to rest, there’s a sword fight that seems to mimic the fight between Jack and William in P1 before GOSH, MORE SWASH BUCKLING! It doesn’t let up, until it does, before picking right back up again. There is such a thing as action fatigue and this film gets it before the end of its first hour, out of a total unnecessary run time of two hours fifteen.
The quest for the McGuffin, which the plot follows linearly, is reminiscent of P1 or any Indiana Jones film, but the world isn’t utilised. You have this rich environment of finely crafted boats, hints of mysticism and so on. The result is absolutely no naval warfare which is criminal, and a character with magic powers who uses them once, before later used by someone else, occupying the ENTIRE use of 3D effects, which is the same thing used twice anyhow (crap, there’s a sword barely poking me!). So that’s another thing; don’t even think about simply wasting your money to see the 3D version, because it’s not a 3D version. It’s a 2D version with one special effect, used twice. This is compounded when having to wear the screen-darkening glasses and thanks to some truly magnificent directing decisions, half the time the screen is bathed in darkness. I couldn’t see a damn thing for a lot of the time. It wasn’t even for tension or excitement building, it was just pointless and frustrating. I reckon for a good thirty minutes of the film, I wasn’t wearing my glasses and the screen was acceptably not-too-blurry and I could actually see what was going on.
Of all the few set-pieces, one stands out, but again isn’t particularly exciting. I could probably tell you what happened in each act, near enough, but I couldn’t go into any major detail. I saw the film on Sunday night. The whole thing is just very tame. Dialogue that barely scratches the comedy itch, built around a barely explored plot, with some very bizarre holes and questioning coupled with a sub-plot that adds precisely nothing. No doubt about it, this is a money maker in name alone. You’d be far better off grabbing a copy of the first film and watching it again. And what made that first film so relentlessly enjoyable? It was fun. Not that it matters because there’s an obvious sequel hook at the end of this one (which comes off the back of a poorly and quite frankly stupid reason) so they can release Pirates of the Caribbean 5 – The Quest For More Merchandise.