30 April 2017

A Turd On The Waves

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Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, was released in 2003 and was a direct result of two great rides. The first was of course the Pirates Of The Caribbean ride at Disney of which the film is based, and the second was that special romance-ride that Mr and Mrs Depp once had with each other that led to the conception of little baby Johnny. What was originally going to be an average movie about the ongoing battle between some floating sea scum and a load of posh, land-based twats instantly became a million times more fun thanks to Depp's now-iconic performance as Captain Jack Sparrow. Things took a turn when it came to the sequels however, as it was decided to replace all the fun of the first movie with a convoluted plot, elongated running length, and a focus on some of the most boring characters of all time. Show me Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner's dull romance and I'll show you two rotting manakins that have more passion in their moth-infested heads. The second film was obviously crap, but it admittedly had just enough watchable moments to keep me mildly numb to the world. The third film however has to be one of the biggest pieces of shit I've ever seen in my life. By the time of the credits of that one, not only had I not had any fun but I was actively looking for a rusty fucking nail to plunge into my eye socket in order to help scrape out the memories.

As a result, it's taken me about six years to get around to watching this fourth instalment, with the trilogy's terrible conclusion lingering in the recess of my mind like a damp wad of pubes in a public urinal. Finally however, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take the plunge. I really did like the first film, and surely this fourth one couldn't be worse than the third... I mean, other than sitting down on your own testicles, few things can really be more unpleasant than part three really was. On top of that, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides had a new director, it ditched the dullards that the previous three had focused on, and it was now based on a book too. Perhaps being based on something with a proper narrative would help solve most problems, considering the previous films plots being a fuck load of waffle was previously one of the bigger issues. Possibly filled with a similar optimism, Depp even claimed to have signed onto the movie before having read a completed script. Having now seen the film, I can only assume that he finished making the movie without having read one either. Either the book that this film was based on was actually more of a pamphlet than a novel, or the writers must have been adapting from a secondhand copy that had lost several of its chapters. Specifically the chapters in which anything fucking interesting happened whatsoever.

Essentially the film revolves around the various characters all adventuring towards the fountain of youth. And that really is all that happens. For over two hours, some people head towards some shit, whilst occasionally stopping for reasons that add pretty much nothing to pretty much anything and then it ends. Throughout the entire running time, almost everything on screen would prompt one of two questions in my head, “But what's the point?” and “Who the fuck even cares?”. A good example of this appears at the end of the film in which two people with a grudge decide to have a fight whilst screaming that their two armies should attack at the same time. Sparrow interjects by asking the reason for having everyone fight when it's just those two men with the problem. Everybody ponders this for a second before ignoring it and all charging in to fight anyway... but.. what's the point... And who the fuck even cares? You could argue that this is a satirical jibe at the pointlessness of war in which politicians solve their issues by throwing innocent lives at innocent lives. But considering the rest of the film has shown no more intelligence than that of a syphilitic mule with shit for brains, I can only assume that it was intended as nothing more than a throw-away joke.

But why does everything seem so pointless? And why don't I care? Well, sadly, it seems that the problem comes back down to the characters. The first trilogy fucked up because it decided to follow in the footsteps of Star Wars when it should have taken more of a leaf out of Indiana Jones's book. Star Wars has multiple characters on multiple missions in an on-going story. Indiana Jones has one character on a single mission in several completely independent stories. As mentioned, I couldn't give a monkey's cock about Knightly or Bloom's characters and so to go the Star Wars route seemed to make about as much sense as listening to a Scottish tramp babbling on about his smack addiction. Three fucking movies later and finally the filmmakers seem to have seen the error of their ways and decided to put Jack at the centre of his franchise. However at this point we're all four films in and his drunken shtick is not only getting a little tiring but has subsequently been ruined by Russell Brand. When Curse Of The Black Pearl came out, I'm not even sure that Brand was that famous, however now he's gone mad, stopped being funny, and decided he's the new Jesus of politics. When I hear Depp spouting out his sub-Dickensian cockney drivel, I can't help but also hear Brand's voice spouting out his pretentious and uninformed shite. It's hard to enjoy a film whose main characters mannerisms have been adopted by a man who is currently so annoying that his voice alone can give me a fucking nose bleed.

Not only that, but although Sparrow may be at the centre of the film, the adventure has almost nothing to do with him anyway. He's only going along for the ride because of some shit that happens at the beginning and then never really gets mentioned again throughout. So the main character has no huge interest in the mission and I have no huge interest in any of the characters that do. Sure they've gotten rid of Bloom and Knightly but their replacements are hardly much better. Ian McShane plays the lead villain and despite being one of the worlds greatest character actors, he appears to have shown up with the strict intention of slumming it. When asked if he'd seen Jaws: The Revenge, Michael Caine famously responded, “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific”. With that in mind, I can't help but wonder how lovely Ian McShane's new house must be. They say that if you can get paid for something you love then you'll never work a day in your life.. when it comes to On Stranger Tides, I can't help but think McShane might have only caught the second half of that advice. However at least I have a previously acquired love of him, and so even when it's obvious that he doesn't give a shit, it's nice to see that he's still alive. This is sadly not the case with another shite couple that the film forces us to spend time with.

A boring vicar falls in love with a boring mermaid, and despite both characters only having the depth of a small puddle of piss we're meant to care. She gets injured and captured and it's a race against time to save her. But the prick barely knows anything about her beyond her species, and so it's hard for me to start caring about either of them. I mean, how far past a woman's stomach do the scales have to go before we can acknowledge that fucking a mermaid is very definitely bestiality? Plus, if all he looks for in a woman is a distinct whiff of fish from below the waist then all he has to do is wander down to Liverpool on a Saturday night. It's also worth noting that Geoffrey Rush is back as Barbossa with his company (and what little patience I have left for Sparrow) being one of the few things to help me get through the film. The problem with him is that his character appears with a mystery... what happened to his ship? Why is he now missing a leg? And why does his face have an odd rash on it that's similar to what you might see on a fat man's arse at the gym? The whole film teases you with the epic story behind these questions before finally just having the character explain it. I mean, I know the film had its budget cut from previous instalments, but having someone explain away what would have been its most impressive set piece seems a bit fucking cheap. Kind of like watching a porno in which some greased up hottie sits calmly on a sofa and just tells you, “I was exploited for money” and then it ends.

This downsizing and budget-cutting ironically also emphasises how boring this film is. I agree that the smaller Indiana Jones formula is more appropriate for this kind of movie, but although the story in the previous movies was overly long and completely shit, at least there was a sense of real threat and doom. For all its faults, it felt like the consequence of failure in The Worlds' End would be devastating, however failure in On Stranger Tides would simply mean that some people that I'm not arsed about wouldn't get that thing that I have no interest in. Again, “what's the point and who the fuck even cares?” However the influence of Indiana Jones can be felt throughout the story as if to highlight how much they messed up by previously following the wrong franchise. Here there's a concluding melty-death that's similar to the Raiders Of The Lost Ark; there's a voodoo doll reminiscent of Temple Of Doom; the third act involves drinking from a life-giving cup like in The Last Crusade; and as with the aliens in Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, watching this boring film caused my consciousness to slip into the space between fucking spaces.

At the end of the day however, I suppose a boring and insignificant film is an improvement on the soul-raping awfulness of At Worlds' End. I can't be too mad at On Stranger Tides because its biggest crime is its dullness and I just don't have the energy for such mediocrity. In fact, the entire franchise is kind of like the various stages of a relationship. You meet each other and have a great time with part one; cracks appear with part two but you try to remain optimistic, but by the time of the third instalment you're throwing plates at each other and smearing the word “twat” on the wall in mud. That's relatable to everyone beyond me right? Continuing this, and bearing in mind that it's taken me six years to watch this instalment, I'd say that On Stranger Tides is like when you decide to get back with that partner despite all your mates trying to remind you how shit everything was by the end. You go in optimistically but quickly realise that going back was a mistake. It's not yet as bad as it was but nor is it even remotely as good as it was at its best. There's no high emotion like there was the first time, with the whole experience simply being consumed by the thought: “I really feel that there should be more to life than fucking this”. Thanks for reading, and see you next time, motherfuckers.

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