Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: May 20, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets shanghaied by a group of drunken, smelly people he met in a pub. If only, if only these were really pirates taking him aboard a haunted ship. Alas, they weren’t. Let’s just say that there might be a few trips to the pharmacy in store for him.

After surviving his if-only-it-were-real-pirates experience, Kevin took a shot at seeing Jodie Foster’s Beaver. Unfortunately, no one told him this was a title to an actual film, so he spent another few days in jail, missing any opportunity to see that new Mel Gibson film at all.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as Kevin is joined in the Magical Studio in the Sky by Freddy Morris from The Night of the Living Podcast at NOTLP.com.

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Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images, sensuality and innuendo

Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Kevin R. McNally and Astrid Berges-Frisbey

Directed by: Rob Marshall

What it’s about: Jack Sparrow returns to the big screen in the fourth installment of the popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Jack has returned from the Fountain of Youth, and now the King of England wants him to find it before the Spanish do. But Jack’s in this game for himself, so he gets aboard a pirate vessel captained by the legendary Blackbeard while his best mate Gibbs is forced to help the newly rehabilitated Captain Barbossa find the legendary fountain for the crown.

What I liked: While I enjoyed all three of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I can’t say I was a die-hard fan. In fact, I thought that they deteriorated as the series went on. Where the first film was fresh and fun with plenty of cool action, the sequels got bogged down with too many plot twists, clinging to characters they should have dropped. Also, as the series went on, the color palate of the film grew as dreary and as gray as the characters.

These elements have changed, for the most part, in this new installment. The cinematography is brighter, the story is less gloomy and the locations feel so much more fresh. I really appreciated it because it felt like director Rob Marshall was really trying to breathe some new life into the tired franchise.

There’s plenty of action, most of it family-friendly. Sure, it all takes place in scenes that seem to be forcibly paced, but for the summer popcorn flick this movie is, it worked.

Johnny Depp feels a bit tired in the role of Jack, but it was still fun. Though the greatest delight I got (as I did with the other films) was the acting of Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane as battling pirate villains. Oh, and Penelope Cruz is easy on the eyes, and she looks sexy as hell as a pirate. There’s a Halloween costume many a college student have to thank Disney for this coming drunken October.

In some ways, this installment of Pirates of the Caribbean feels like an Indiana Jones film. It’s a quest. It takes place partly in the jungle. And it uses an established character to find a mythical MacGuffin. This might be a turn-off to some people, but I’m pretty forgiving of jungle adventures, serials and even the fourth Indiana Jones movie. So sue me.

What I didn’t: This installment of the franchise is based on an existing book, so it had to be retrofitted to fit Jack Sparrow and his crew. There are some odd remnants in the script that made it to the final print that really don’t seem to fit. I’m cool with the presence of mermaids in this movie, but as a character, one of the mermaids tends to clutter the story a bit. I’m sure it worked great in the original book, but it just seems awkward in the final product.

Finally, a word about the 3D elements, which as many films do nowadays, it has a combination of true 3D elements and post-converted material. The film was shot for 3D, the effects were post-converted. While post-conversion technology has gotten much better over the past year or so, it’s still not as good as being fully rendered in 3D. I, personally, love 3D. But I can’t say it’s worth blowing an extra $5 (or more) for this flick. Part of that may have been because of Marshall’s composition, I’ll admit. Were it all the same price, I’d say to totally go for it. But the movie doesn’t really take full advantage of the 3D medium, even with quality post-conversion work.

Who is gonna like this movie: Families who want a fun adventure film.

Grade: A-

Want to see what Kevin had to say about this film on TV? Check out his interview on FOX…

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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