Movies releasing today: Pirate vs. Knight

Only 2 films of notability open in South Africa today. The reason for this lack of cinema releases is that one of these debuts is likely to be a box office behemoth that few other films can stand to compete against.

The blockbuster in question is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth film in Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer's hit fantasy adventure series. Johnny Depp is front and centre this time around as quirky pirate Jack Sparrow - who is racing against the fearsome Blackbeard (Ian McShane) to find the Fountain of Youth. Geoffrey Rush is back as Barbossa while Penélope Cruz joins the cast as Sparrow's fiery on-off-on again love interest.

Filmed for 3D (i.e. it's not a conversion!) and still screening widely in 2D, Pirates 4 is unfortunately at the moment just 37% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Critics are complaining that the 2 hour 20 minute film is noisy, boring and disjointed, with everyone involved - including Depp - just going through the motions. This said, there is still a minority calling On Stranger Tides an entertaining return to form for the franchise after the messy and much maligned Pirates 3.

I'm reserving my opinion until I've watched the film though. I've never been a Pirates fan - I found the first movies tedious and overlong, with repetitive running back and forth over the same territory. On Stranger Tides, however, is the first of the films to sound and look interesting (read and watch the Trailer Tuesday profile here) so I maintain a tiny grain of hope that I'll enjoy myself properly this time around.

If you can't get a ticket this weekend for Pirates 4 (which could easily happen), there's still fellow fantasy action-adventure Season of the Witch. Set in the Middle Ages, Season of the Witch stars Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman as Teutonic knights, and conscientious objectors, returning home from the horrors of the Crusades. In the process of crossing plague-afflicted Eastern Europe, they're tasked with escorting a suspected witch (Claire Foy) to a remote monastery for "testing." Only things aren't exactly as they first appear.

Released in the United States back in early January - Hollywood's typical dumping period for cinematic turkeys - Season of the Witch is a wretched 6% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have almost universally dismissed the film as an over-serious bore that is chiefly dampened, surprisingly, by the dour performance of its leading man. Season of the Witch completely misses the opportunity to play up its Hammer-style B-grade schlock elements (Christopher Lee even cameos), and, alas, apparently isn't even so bad that it's funny.

What a waste of a good concept and historical setting. Bah humbug.


Cleric said…
I'm a fan of the Pirates, but I think after this one they should call it quits, otherwise they'll just drag it out (if they aren't doing so with this 4th one).
Can't wait to see it.

On the other hand, it's sad to hear that Cage gave a "dour performance". The trailer looks cool, and I'd watch it, but hearing this news makes me think twice :(

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