A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

POTC: On Stranger Tides

I had an opportunity to go to the movies last weekend. While most of humanity was tripping over each other by the millions to see Harry Potter, I and a few dozen other movie goers caught a blockbuster from earlier in the season: Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides (hitherto known as POTC – OST). There’s my new motto: if a movie title takes longer to say than actually sit through the actual movie, then we should be able to acronym the hell out of it!

Movie fans are no different than patrons of the other arts; they come from all walks of life with varying degrees of different attributes, including race, sex, intellect and wealth. I dare say that, for most film patrons, their observance of whatever celluloid drama is unfolding in front of their eyes is nothing more than a pleasing way to pass a hot, humid, summer afternoon. They may or may not take away any deep meaning from the film. I, on the other hand, will always attempt to gather some sort of lesson from the performance.

I don’t believe I do this because I consider myself that much more of an intellectual than the average movie fan. No, I believe I look for a deeper understanding in the film because I want to get more out of an experience for which I paid $5.00 20 years ago, but have to plunk down my hard earned plastic for amounts nearly twice that amount now. Another reason I only go to the movies twice a year, but I digress.

So, the lessons that made an impression on me from POTC – OST (again, I remind you, an acronym) could all qualify as SPOLIER ALERTS (not an acronym) on the International Movie Data Base website:

1. Jack Sparrow, oh sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) has commitment issues.

2. Barbossa, Sparrow’s adversary played to wonderful broadly comic effect by Geoffrey Rush, finds himself owning one show too many.

3. Mermaids are vicious, nasty bitches!

This latest entry in the POTC franchise (yes, I think we can officially label this a franchise now) has a potential romantic interest in Penelope Cruz, as opposed to being a losing corner in the romantic triangle that was Sparrow/Swann/Turner in the first three POTC. Now Sparrow has a chance to shine and show off for his lady love, whether he’s swashbuckling through the streets of London or screaming like a little girl when he jumps off a high cliff somewhere in the South Seas. Okay, so perhaps screaming like a little girl isn’t considered macho, but perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps we are ready to redefine the concept of “macho”. Or maybe not...

Sparrow’s and Barbossa’s relationship doesn’t break any new ground. They are the same old cranky enemies when each doesn’t have a ship under them, but the best of allies in special situations, like being tied to side-by-side coconut trees by a third party. At times like these, they trade quips like Hope and Crosby did 60 years ago. Scenes like this make one wonder if perhaps the whole enterprise could be entitled Pirates of the Caribbean: The Road to the Fountain of the Youth (AKA...oh, please do the acronym yourself, dear reader. It’s hot and I’m tired)!

Then there are the mermaids; those wonderful, beautiful creatures that can be an allegory for the relationships between the sexes through the ages. Yes, they are all smiles and come hither looks before they’ve got a man within their clutches, but once he’s there he’s as good as being dragged to the bottom of the sea. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times in real life. It’s happened to me a few times in my past, not that I want to admit to it now.

So much for deep meaning...

The action did bog down a few times, but the performances were wonderfully entertaining. Depp’s Sparrow can still show flashes of the earlier master Chaplin. Cruz was very enticing, even with her being photographed from the neck up so as to disguise the fact that she was pregnant throughout the shoot. A few scenes were enlivened with cameos by Dame Judi Dench (as a high society lady riding inside a coach invaded by Sparrow) and an elderly-looking Rolling Stone Keith Richards, who gets to deliver an instantly classic movie line that he was born to deliver.

In the end, we are all enriched by the spectacle of the conflict and the grand panorama of the chase. In the end, the Fountain of Youth is found and lost again, Barbossa gets a ship, and Sparrow abandons love for the life of a pirate. Naturally, fans of the franchise believe that the drama is not truly over until Sparrow utters the word Savvy at least once.

Yet the drama is not over, because this franchise has set a new standard for film endings tacked on after the closing credits have finished. This time — another patented IMDB SPOILER ALERT ahead — our spurned love interest finds a way to avenge her broken heart. Even though she is thousands of miles from civilization on a tiny island, she realizes that she holds Captain Sparrow’s wretched pirate life in the palm of her hands.

Oh yes, I see another grand sequel on the horizon...

(Thank you for reading! If nothing else, remember this: “Does this face look like it’s been to the Fountain of Youth?”)


Anonymous Janey said...

Where was I when you were being dragged to the bottom of the sea by a beautiful bitchy mermaid? :-)

July 22, 2011 at 4:24 PM  

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