T'eyla Minh (teylaminh) wrote,
T'eyla Minh

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Pirates 4!

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed that, thank you. To quote my Facebook update: two hours of swashbuckling awesomesauce. :)

Before I post proper thoughts, though (perhaps 'review' is too strong a word), something else.

Indications the Fandom is Getting to You, number 42 (I haven't been counting, I just think it's appropriate...): your MP3-player mocks you first thing in the morning.

I turned it on as I was walking down the road to find it halfway through the last song I'd been playing (I listen to my entire tracklist in alphabetical order as it's more random than the bloody randomiser), which happened to be Brandon Flowers's "Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts" (OHAI song title!), and which also happened to contain this line: "you're flying away // while I'm stuck here on the ground". I didn't know whether to giggle or cry. ;)

This was swiftly followed by Catatonia's "Johnny Come Lately" (I wish I was joking, really), which commences thus: "I'm sorry you couldn't make it // You could have seen him, so weathered and dated" - GAH. That's like... the end of the Doomfic, if Joey's plan didn't work. (The rest of the song not so much, though. :P)

Thankfully I managed to get a Metro this morning and my music was merely background noise, so I didn't have time to think about the rest of it. :P

Aaaanyway, Pirates 4 thoughts under the cut. I seem to recall I reviewed Pirates 2 under headings, and that seems to be a sensible way forward, so:-


Overall, I really enjoyed it. It's been a while since I sat through a film with a huge smile on my face (maybe I need to see more cheerful films? :P) and in terms of it being a feel-good piratical romp, it was great fun. There were even occasional out-loud snorts and sniggers (if not belly laughs) and seeing it at IMAX definitely made a difference - we even plumped an extra two quid for the comfy seats in the back row, right in the middle, so the 3D effects really popped out of the screen.

As for the 3D, it wasn't overdone. I am starting to prefer it when films use the 3D effects to add much-needed depth, rather than predictably throwing things at you, and OST really created a sense of scale (I think the IMAX's mahoosive screen helped with that, too), both with the ocean scenes and those on the island. Yes, there were a couple of moments where stuff came out of the screen (they seemed to like pointing swords at the audience, which was ironic given a line later on...), but for the most part it was just completely immersive and brilliant.

Jack Sparrow

I read (in Metro's review, I believe) that in this film Jack comes across less Keith Richards and more Russell Brand. In fairness, I can kind of see where they're coming from. For the first bit of the film I wasn't entirely convinced the writers had remembered who he was, though the London setting didn't really help in situating Jack as the captain he's always loudly proclaimed to be. He is not a creature of the land. Something about his mannerisms and speech was off, but I can't quite place it - perhaps he's usually imbibed more rum. ;)

I think the fact that he was the actual centre of the film - as opposed to one of the three main characters as was the case before - made his presence so much more pronounced. He has always worked as part of a double- or triple-act, and I much preferred his scenes with Barbossa, Blackbeard, Angelica, even Scrum. Maybe it's because the strengths of his character are in verbal sparring, confusing people with words - when he's left to his own devices he seems a bit lost.

That being said, and putting aside the obvious bonus of the pretty!factor, he had some great moments. I enjoyed his little asides to himself, my favourite of which was after jumping off the cliff into the river: "Wet. Again, wet." just because it was random and silly. Unfortunately my memory for quotes from this film has failed me, as it always does with Jack especially, but suffice it to say most of my favourites were from him.

My other favourite was after he blows up the lighthouse during the mermaid scene and dives into the sea. "I hope you all saw that, because I will not be doing it again."

And also this:

King George: Do you know who I am?!
Jack: Your face is not familiar. Have I threatened you before?

Seeing as he is the focus of the story, I'm going to be talking about the rest of the characters not just individually, but in relation to him. Also, it's easier that way. :P

Joshamee Gibbs

Again, here, something seemed off. Gibbs has never been the focus of the films and he's never had this much to do or say, and that also came off a bit forced. I suppose it's just strange to see the incidental characters having more action. Especially when they started out as cliched pirates in the first place. (It would be like having an entire film about Pintel and Ragetti.)

I'm also not entirely sure why he would be mistaken for Jack at the start of the film, given Jack's reputation at that point and the fact that he's apparently in London looking for a crew (even though he's actually not). He's supposed to be a notorious pirate, and the entire point is that he looks distinctive and instantly recognisable, so why on earth would they mistake Gibbs for him?? Even if the official types have never seen Jack Sparrow, surely they would have garnered a description from someone who had. There's no way you're going to mistake a tall, flamboyant, effeminate captain (in That Hat) for a scruffy, burley, much-older first mate. Especially when you've had most of the King's Navy chasing him around Port Royal for three years. :P

To be honest there were a few WTF moments like that (and a bit of logic failure here and there), but they are mostly quite minor points which lead into chase / fight / escape sequences, and by that point you're too distracted to care. ;)

Captain Teague

At least he had a bit more to do in this one. Keith Richards's appearance in At World's End was too brief to comment on, other than the fact that he appeared a film later than he should have done. He and Jack actually got to have a conversation this time.

To be honest, I'm still really happy they got him involved. After Johnny Depp's famous explanation of who he based Jack's mannerisms on, it was only inevitable that the influence in question would eventually make an appearance (and who better to play the ageless father of an equally ageless pirate than a perpetually ageless Stone?)

So his scene was short but sweet, a necessary setting-up of the plot, and very much appreciated.

Blackbeard / Edward Teach

Ian MacShane was kind of awesome in this. Unrelentingly evil but brilliantly funny, as anticipated.

His eventual death was more graphic than I would have expected from Disney also! Though I do find it very strange indeed that they're willing to show a man's flesh being ripped from his bones, relentlessly and at great length, but when it comes to two consenting adults kissing they have to hide it with clever camera angles. Oh, Disney, you and your morals...

I don't have much to say about Blackbeard, it seems. He was exactly as I'd hoped.


I went in expecting to hate her because she wasn't Elizabeth. It transpired she was an okayish character, and not interesting enough to really bother me on that front. It only occurred to me afterwards that she was basically a Mary Sue - billowing black hair, tanned skin, Spanish eyes and all. (I understand the fandom is dreading a doubled influx of horrible author-insert fics as a result...) For God's sake, she's even Blackbeard's daughter, as if things weren't bad enough...

As for Jack/Angelica as a pairing, I am happy to report that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, essentially because it's old. It's history. They use that history against each other throughout, and yes, it would appear that Jack still cares about her on some degree (hee, the conversation with Gibbs about "stirrings" vs. "feelings" was brilliant. "And still you left her, Jack? That's low..." :D), but equally he's willing to leave her on the rum runners' island with one bullet - which she uses to try and shoot him with, and misses. Heh. Their chemistry was okay, but about on a par with Will/Elizabeth - namely, predictable. I missed the underlying danger of Jack/Lizzie more than I thought I would, the sense of "forbidden fruit" that came with it. It seems Jack/Angelica went down that route a long time ago, however, so clearly he has a weakness for corrupting innocent damsels. ;)

My two favourite Jack/Angelica moments were these (may not be verbatim):-

Angelica: How come whenever we meet, you're pointing something at me? [Yes, the innuendo is intended. :P]


Jack: [during a childish argument] You run like a girl.
Angelica: So do you.

Note: I'll check and amend these later on IMDb when I get chance...

Actually, the bit where she was trying to convince him not to leave her on the island was interesting. After all manner of lies have failed ("I'm with child! ... You were drunk." / "...I wasn't that drunk"), she resorts to saying she loves him, to which is response is "Me too". I took that to mean, "Yes, I love me too", not reciprocating her feelings at all - especially considering she tries to kiss him and he runs off. Because really, so-called "feelings" aside, Jack doesn't love anyone except Elizabeth, and Angelica should have realised that by now. And it's not because he's a pirate, it's not because he's self-centred (well, not that much), it's just because it's too bloody complicated and there's no room for emotional attachment on the high seas.

And because, of course, his only real love is the Black Pearl. Actually, I was quite disappointed we didn't get the 'money shot' of Jack at the helm, as we did in CotBP and AWE. Or even shooting the undead monkey. Considering one of the themes, or at least one that I picked up on, was that he was a captain without a ship, essentially without a purpose of his own, it seemed a little odd that even after Gibbs had retrieved the Pearl, we still didn't see them on board.

Hector Barbossa

I've saved him for last because he was my second favourite character in this film. I have consistently sung the praises of Geoffrey Rush in these films right from the start, and I'm so glad they finally gave him something to get his teeth into, as well as giving the character some more depth.

The oddest part for me was that when he first appeared in Hampton Court at the start, resplendent in wig and Navy uniform, he looked very much like the Marquis de Sade, as he played in Quills.

Anyway. I enjoyed that we got to see him being a captain. In CotBP he was too stereotypically "pirate" (accent and everything) to notice. When he was in charge of the Navy ship, giving the crew a pep talk, the leadership was brilliant to watch. It's easy to see how he could have organised the mutiny against Jack. What I thought was brilliant was that even when he was supposedly the leader of the "good guys" (the English Navy), his approach was brutal, honest and scathing. His crew get eaten by mermaids and he responds that all he can hear are "seagulls nesting". Chilling.

(Oh, the mermaids were appropriately creepy, but somewhat overblown. I think it would have been more effective if they hadn't done a Buffy-esque 'gameface' transformation, but instead had their pointy little teeth concealed behind their innocent smiles. I would also have liked Syrena to have scales when she developed her land-legs, or webbed toes or gills or the like, just to make her slightly less obviously human-looking.)

I liked Barbossa's back-story about how he'd lost his leg; it gave him a proper motive for going after Blackbeard that had literally nothing to do with the Fountain of Youth. And also the wooden-leg-cum-rum-container and Jack's miserable, "I want one of those..." when he saw it. :) It was nice to see him and Jack getting along despite their sniping in the previous films, and as a double-act they've always had great comic potential. Barbossa's silent "Don't. Touch. The map." was hilarious.

I also loved the weather-beaten make-up effects on Geoffrey Rush. In all of his scenes, there was always this look in his eye of weary determination. Quite why it's taken them this long to realise how severely under-rated an actor he is, I don't know, but at least he got to shine properly this time.

The fight between Barbossa and Blackbeard was also great - you kind of got a sense that they were both thinking, "God, I'm too old for this..." ;)

Other Stuff

The Spanish captain was too camp for words. Also the religious undertones (that the Catholic Spanish were only going to destroy it, whereas the English [would they be Protestant or CofE at this point?] just wanted to get there first) were subtle but interesting.

I liked Scrum, though it took me FAR TOO LONG to figure out where I knew his face from (it was Stephen Graham from This is England, amongst others) - clearly Johnny Depp picked him up from Public Enemies. He was funny, and an adequate replacement for Pintel, Ragetti and the others. There were some other familiar faces amongst the pirates and Navy sailors, which was nice.

I wasn't intending to make a point of this, because... well, mostly because I think it makes me sound crazy, but frell it. The Fountain of Youth looked like Elizabeth. I cannot explain this rationally, but something about the shape of it just... reminded me of her general appearance. (I think possibly I may have been looking at too much fanart. *cough*) Once I'd seen that it would not be unseen. Yeah. That was a bit distracting.


Oh, and also - and I mention this as a straight woman, with nothing but respect - Dame Judi Dench has a quite remarkable bosom for a woman of her age and stature. I'm just saying. (She was a surprise bit of casting, also, even if only for half a minute.)

I do believe that's everything. If you are planning on going, don't expect it to make any sense in relation to the previous films. It's almost entirely a standalone story, though a lot of that is due to the absence of Will and Elizabeth. If you prefer those two to Jack, then don't bother. If you want a jolly bit of oceanic adventure with some occasional slapstick, silly pirate voices and one-liners, and you go in expecting exactly that, you will not be disappointed. Don't try and over-analyse it in terms of your preferred mythology, 'ship, character or plot point; just enjoy the ride.

I think that's quite long enough. Now that I've got that out of my system (though I shall probably do a PotC marathon at some point and re-read redux_08), we return to your regularly scheduled Jonathan Creek madness. Over and out.
Tags: fandom: jonathan creek, fandom: pirates, reviews: films, soundtrack for life
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