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The Pirates of the Caribbean: on stranger tides

Paul Clarke tests out a pet theory at the National Media Museum’s IMAX screen

Written by . Published on May 25th 2011.

The Pirates of the Caribbean: on stranger tides

When I noticed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was on at the IMAX it was time to test one of my pet movie theories. 

Can a big screen save a bad film? 

The two unknown actors involved in this fishy romance make the reliably wooden Bloom/Knightly look like Burton and Taylor.

So let’s look at part one of my hypothesis. The good news is that - for my purposes - the fourth of this increasing desperate franchise is an utterly awful film on every level.  This is a movie in search of a roller coaster at Disneyland, but without the thrills of hurtling round a fairground. 

It is ironic that a gifted actor like Johnny Depp once played Ed Wood – one of the most inept Hollywood directors – yet has the cheek to mincewalk his way through this directed by numbers bilge. 

Depp famously modelled his Captain Jack on rock bore Keef Richards, but now he just seems to be channelling the ghost of Larry Grayson.  The once razor sharp gags are absent in a script by committee devoid of any sign of intelligence. 

pirates-of-the-caribbean-on-stranger-tides-poster-philip-syrena-thumb.jpgThe story – such as it – revolves around Captain Grayson, his arch-enemy Captain Barbossa and some Spanish nobles in a ‘race’ to find the fountain of youth that guarantees eternal life.  The reasons for this race are never properly explained and - worse still - there is absolutely no dramatic tension as the usual double crosses take place. 

Another massive problem is the cheap CGI where we only get eight of the evil mermaids in close up, with the rest off in the distance to save money.   

Equally boring is the obligatory romantic sub-plot where a priest falls in love with a mermaid….I know, but it’s that sort of film. The two unknown actors involved in this fishy romance make the reliably wooden Bloom/Knightly look like Burton and Taylor. 

images.jpgI can quite understand why Oscar winners Geoffrey Rush and Penelope Cruz (gratuitous sexy picture here) took the money, but do they have to be quite so hammy?  It’s like they are auditioning to play Captain Hook in an amateur panto at Leeds Grand. 

So to the second part of my theory…does size matter? 

Well, as always, it does.  Somehow the vast expanse of screen in the IMAX makes watching this tripe somehow bearable.  I think part of it is the screen is so huge that your senses are struggling to find a spot to watch that you forget how awful the film you are watching actually is. 

It also helps Pirates 4 is in 3D as IMAX is the perfect medium to make the most of this new technology.  It is fun to watch a massive sword coming out of the screen towards your heart or feel like some beer barrels are actually rushing towards you.   

Another massive bonus is the wonderful surround sound which really enhances the subtle work of the gifted sound engineers on this film, who are so often the unsung heroes of the movie industry. 

My theory is now proven beyond any doubt, as there is now irrefutable evidence presented at the National Media Museum that a massive IMAX screen can rescue even the most badly made film.  I suspect this epic screen could even make Fast and Furious 5 seem like Bullitt.

Pirates of the Caribbean is on release everywhere in all sorts of unimagined places.

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Jonathan SchofieldMay 25th 2011.

Bit harsh this Paul. I thought it was a ripping yarn of fantastically silly proportions and much better than all the other dross films with poor Orlando Bloom (a cut-price David Beckham). One line - the don't you know who I am line - made me laugh out loud. That the plot didn't make sense didn't matter, I like cold tripe with lashings of vinegar and that doesn't make sense either.

Tristan WelchMay 26th 2011.

Not sure I'd say Depp's a "gifted actor" after seeing the tourist, he's a good blank slate and shifts and shapes to the script, but he can't carry something if it's poorly written, he just doesn't bring enough brilliance.

I'll still watch this, it's a film based on a ride at Disney, hardly the best basis for a gripping script.

VampcullenMay 26th 2011.

Bit of a disappointment this, more of a wait for it to come on Sunday telly on a rainy afternoon with pizza & beer. My expectations weren't that high to begin with, but even they weren't met, more of a paint by numbers let's get the last $$$ out of it and in 3D why!!! It's ok....

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