Cardinal Sin


When you go to see a mainstream film, you know you’re going to have to put up with certain things.

Put simply, it’s pretty much always the same old shit, simply passed to you in a different bucket. You get the same stereotypes, the same situations to trigger the same emotional responses, and a story which is essentially the retread of something you have seen before. Films like Pirates of the Caribbean are wildly expensive to make, and rarely does anyone fork out millions of dollars they won’t get back.

While these things are true, the first two Pirates films were crackers. In fact, they succeed in the one area mainstream films can defensibly be described as ‘art’; they show you things you haven’t seen before. I experienced this most significantly with the first Transformers film, also; a terrible piece of shite which made me want to extinguish my own eyes became a genuine source of wonder once the robots arrived. They were so amazing, they actually made up for the appalling torture put forward as a story. So too is the scene in the second Pirates film where we come upon Bill Nighy playing the organ with his infernal fish-like claws, tentacles for hair writhing around his face. You know, looking at the image, that it will be fixed in the imagination of every child who sees it, forever.

The latest Pirates film does the one thing a mainstream piece of entertainment can’t afford to do; it’s boring. It’s so boring I feel asleep several times and actually left the cinema twenty minutes from the end; I knew I’d have to be up for work the next morning and that extra half-hour might make all the difference. No amount of a poncing, prancing Johnny Depp (who by now reminds me of Russell Brand, rather than the other way around) can save this stinker. And it takes us on a tour of all the action movie clichés we’ve come to know and hate since we first had them foisted upon us by turds such as Tango and Cash.

Ian McShane is a fabulous villain as Blackbeard the pirate; when he emerges from his cabin Ahab-style with the plaits of his beard smouldering like the wicks on cannon, it’s a fabulous entrance. Other than that, the film is still-born. Keef Richards returns as Jack’s dad in a pointless and distracting cameo which goes nowhere. Much like the other devices; you feel as if you’re moving in circles, rather than actually travelling anywhere.

I spoke about what a desperately distressing experience the film Snowtown was some posts ago. However, as a film, it was a success; it transported me into a place and held me in the grip of its story. Indeed, Sergei Eisenstein, father of modern cinema, writes that the first duty of the storyteller in film is to grip his audience. This awful fucking Pirates film is the cinematic equivalent of a limp handshake.   

One Response to “Cardinal Sin”

  1. p@ddy.g Says:

    “…the cinematic equivalent of a limp handshake. ” nice, very nice.
    Last night I watched a romcom called ‘No Strings Attatched’. I liked it, I almost liked it alot. Was it ‘art’ – hell no. Was it stereotypical and cliched – absolutely. Does any of that matter, not at all. It was what it was and I liked it for that. Of course genre movies can be art. I’d argue that ‘When Harry Met Sally’ rises above cliche with clever dialouge and structure and acheives this.

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