Friday, July 15, 2011

Fix It Fridays: Pirates of the Caribbean 4

It’s time for the second edition of Fix It Fridays! Today on the chopping blog: Pirates of the Caribbean 4!

Ready? Okay. Let’s commence. (Yar!)

**Disclaimer: I liked this movie, but in my subjective opinion, it could have been even more entertaining… and here’s how. Oh, and there are beaucoup spoilers. You’ve been warned. Or, in pirate lingo, ye've been waarrrrned.**

The beginning of the movie was riddled with Tell Don’t Show exposition – for shame, pirates! Once it got going, it really picked up steam, but the beginning was ponderous at best.

We open with a random dude being drawn up in a fishing net and taken to Spain. Spain plays a tiny role, the random dude plays no role, and all it does is establish that we’re talking about the fountain of youth. Blech.

In MY VERSION: We open with the Black Pearl sailing through the night, another ship firing on her – it’s Queen Anne’s Revenge! Blackbeard! (Though we don’t SEE the pirate himself at this point so he still gets his Big Entrance later.) We SEE the preacher do something stupid and heroic (to establish his character more effectively than just seeing him strapped to the mast.) We SEE Geoffrey Rush hoisted up by his foot as the Black Pearl comes to life and snares its own crew. We SEE the ship begin to sink, see Barbossa realize what is about to happen and pull his sword from his scabbard. He draws back the sword, lightning flashes, illuminating the blade as he swings toward his own leg, and… SMASH CUT TO THE TITLES!

Thus, when we see Rush enter later with his peg leg, we have an ooooh moment. Savvy?

We fade in to London. The fake court scene and chase through London is... silly. I don't really think we need it. I would actually like it better if Jack was being chased because of a crime committed by the Other Jack Sparrow - the lovely Penelope. He tracks her down, in the unusual position of trying to clear his name, and they fight...


How does Jack know her? He recognizes her from a sword move, but it is later revealed that he knew her as a sheltered virgin convent girl? Whaaa? Perhaps instead of fading in to London, we fade in to Spain, Fifteen years ago... and see the scene ourselves... but honestly, my main problem with Penelope is that her character is all over the place. Is she a virtuous maid or a sword-fighter? Blackbeard's mercenary daughter or his conscience? Her character is not in conflict, because her character is conflict. And we are never rooting for her.

That is the central problem of the film. When we get to the climactic scene at the fountain, we aren't rooting for any particular event. And this is not a problem with the climax, but rather with all the ground-work laid to get us there. When you watched the first pirates movie, you were rooting in that swordfight between Barbossa and Jack. Can you say the same of Pirates 4? The outcome was blurry because we had just been fed a string of silliness at the beginning when the filmmakers should have been making us care about the outcome.

I am, however, deeply in love with the Evil Mermaids and therefore will forgive much. But still, my fix? Show. Don't tell. You're a visual art, film. Act like it.


Carly M. said...

*spoilers spoilers*
So where do you think the mermaid took the priest? How did she keep her evil sisters from killing him?

I love your improvements -- twenty minutes in I wondered why I bothered, but by the end I was having fun. If it had been on tv, I would have turned it off long before the good stuff.

Vivi Andrews said...

Huh. I hadn't really thought about where she took him in the end. I guess I just figured they went off to the magical Happily Ever After Land where none of her bloodthirsty sisters will try to slaughter him. LOL.