Well… not everyone. The first Pirates movie got a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes from the critics, and the audience gave it 86%, so its safe to say that most people enjoyed the first entry into the franchise. But after that the general consensus began to drop, with critics averaging the score to around 3/10 by the time of the fourth movie and the audience still sitting in above them at around 5/10. So generally people began to gain a distaste for these movies, but why?
The further you go into the movie reviews you realise something, critics complain about a nonsensical and uninteresting story, or that the films are too long, or they are solely based on action. These criticisms are unfair to the franchise on a whole, as yes the films are made up of these things, but reviews for the first film say it’s a ‘fun romp’ or a ‘swashbuckling mythological pirate adventure’ and when looking at the other films they do exactly the same. So why attack them? Likely because the first film was so fresh that an almost 2 and a half hour film seems much shorter, so when the Hollywood machine churns out a sequel that’s longer and has a bigger budget critics just pan it.
I think audience’s enjoy these films more than critics because they take them for what they are, elaborate and fun to watch action sequences with crazy stories that blend piracy and myth… what is not to like?!?! But to critics this is dumb, unprofessional and stale (only after the first, of course).
These films aren’t masterpieces of cinema, but they are based off a theme park ride so what do you expect. I just don’t deem it fair to criticise all but the first because of its ‘problems’ when these are foundations of the franchise from the beginning. When you ask someone which Pirates movie has the skeletons, or the wheel, or the 40 minutes battle in a whirlpool they’ll most likely tell you the wrong movie, or even forget their names. Hell I though the wheel was the 3rd until I recently re-watched them all for this! But that’s part of the charm, silly pirate antics, it was never really about a deep story (the universes lore is interesting however) but more just entertainment. It seems that critics can praise that for what it is, spectacle. Oh wait they did, but only with the first movie.
To critics these films needed to be deep, have meaning… but not everything needs some moral lesson. Much like a theme park ride, something can be fun for the sake of fun. The pirates films are just this, and whilst some are just worse than others, they want to be goofy and spontaneous and completely irrational. So why criticise them for this after praising this exact trait.
The crux of this article is saying that critics follow a tide, when its fresh its good, despite its ‘quality’ but if every once in a while a critic was to take a step back and watch a film as they are intended to be seen, then maybe they wouldn’t hate them as much (then again it is their job).
There is also plenty to just appreciate about these films too, some great characters from Geoffrey Rush, Johnny Depp (just Johnny Depping about) and Bill Nighy who bring the series to life and action set pieces embodying the term ‘put your money where your mouth is’. I know the films are long, and that is a valid complaint with At World’s End clocking in at a whopping 2 hours and 49 minutes.
But please, before you start hating on these films just grab some popcorn, sit back and embrace the mindlessness that unfolds with slapstick and special effects.