But why is the fun gone?

Posted on June 6, 2011. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , |

This return from a long absence is brought to you by the end of first year medical exams. Free time rules.

While my exam induced hermitdom has prevented me from seeing any of this month’s new releases thus far, I have had the chance to catch some reviews, and the one that is bringing me the most pain and anguish is the absolute trashing of Pirates 4 all over the internet.

I get it. You’re all upset because it didn’t live up to the original. But seriously, did anyone think it was going to?  Pirates is suffering from the same problem that nearly killed Star Wars, The Matrix and countless others: it did too well. Of course when a movie makes several billion dollars worldwide the execs are going to want to make more of them. Lots more. Even when they run out of plot and have got rid of most of the main characters. They’ll bring them back from the dead if they have to. You can never expect the later films to live up to the glorious original because it is exactly that originality that has been lost.

The reason that everyone fell out of their sticky cinema seats when Black Pearl first hit our screens was because nobody was expecting it to work. It was a pirate film, the first to be made in decades. It was based on a theme park ride. People died and there was an army of the undead, but it was aimed at kids. And it starred Johnny Depp, who until that point was definitely not someone you associated with Disney or any kind of children’s film. It shouldn’t have worked, and yet it was a complete knock out.

How do you recreate that magic? Simple. You can’t. It’s like when you have those amazingly spontaneous nights out with friends, and end up having a much better time than you could have imagined. When you try to do the same thing again  it just isn’t the same.

And yet the films keep coming. And people jump up and down and wring their hands about how it’s all gone wrong. Mark Kermode got particularly animated on 5 Live, but as far as I’m concerned he completely missed the point because he was too busy congratulating himself for being right. For starters, the point of Jack Sparrow has never been that he’s a rubbish pirate, it’s that everyone thinks he’s rubbish, and he acts like he would be, but in fact he’s a genius. Anyone who doesn’t get that is not allowed to talk about Pirates as far as I’m concerned. (5.35 in the video if you want to hear him harping on. Idiot.)

So, Kermode and Co.: Calm Down. You’re going to give yourself a hernia. Pirates of the Caribbean is not trying to win Oscars. It’s not trying to break new ground in cinema. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be for kids (not self-righteous middle-aged radio critics who love the sound of their own voice). Yes, the first one was brilliant, and the ones that have followed are nowhere near as good. But who cares? Stop comparing them to each other and take them on face value.  OK, I haven’t seen 4 yet, but I have seen 2 and 3 and while they can’t live up to the impossible expectations of the original, they are still fun movies. If we’d never seen 1 we’d all probably love them.

If you can’t separate your expectations from reality then don’t go see it. I very much doubt it will be as good as I want it to be, but I also doubt that it really is as bad as a lot of reviewers would have you believe. They’re bitter because the glaze has come off, a bit of a crack has appeared and they can no longer ignore the man behind the curtain. But ask the kids, the people this movie was made for (even if it was for the wrong reasons) and you’ll find that they will happily watch Jack stumbling across the ocean searching for lost treasure for as long as the studios will let him.

And I probably will too.

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6 Responses to “But why is the fun gone?”

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I would argue that part of the reason 2 & 3 are not as good is because the writers themselves forgot that Jack isn’t a rubbish pirate.

Black Pearl worked because they wrote a straight character and then Johnny Depp transformed him into the Sparrow we now know, as you say someone acting rubbish. But come 2 and 3 and Depp’s portrayal is in their head and they’re writing that character, he’s no longer the straight character being played as a fool.

I haven’t seen 4 yet. I’m not sure I want to, I saw an extended clip online with horribly shot action that really put me off. Plus there’s an X-men film to watch 50 times….

I’d agree that they seem to have forgotten how to write Jack, but like I’ve said, a lot of what worked with Jack in 1 worked because we weren’t expecting it, it’s impossible to get that back without it looking a bit contrived.
It has slipped down in my list of films I need to see. X Men is topping that list at the moment. I may end up only catching Pirates 4 on DVD.

Now this post I love. I am so glad that there is someone else that feels the same way about the bashing that Pirates got.

I am fully aware that this film has a lot to live up to, the first film cast a big shadow, but like you I actually enjoyed the sequels. I am very up for a bit of fun cinema sometimes. We can’t watch mind bending film ALL the time right?

I get so drawn in by the blogging world and its reviewing of new films that I have been put off so much this year from going to the cinema at all!! PoC4 will deffo be a blu ray, but I am quite looking forward to it when I do see it (for the laughs!)


Aw thanks Custard it’s nice to have you on board.
As a friend of mine said to me this morning, it’s entertainment. It’s not suppsed to be taken seriously all the time.

Speaking as someone who’s not a big fan of this series, I think all 4 are mediocre. They aren’t for me. But the point is correct. Pirates 4 is an average summer movie. Whatever. The reviews have been way too harsh. There are far far far worse films to complain about…like Battle: Los Angeles.

Thanks Dan…I think. 😛

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