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Criticwatch - Peters of the Caribbean: On Familiar Tides

by Erik Childress

For the fourth time in nine years, Walt Disney has introduced another chapter of their theme park-inspired franchise. For critics what once was a pleasant surprise that a Disneyland ride could be turned into such a fun and handsome-looking adventure epic, then disappointed many as the series continued to take that epic tone rather than just another ride. Critics can be so fickle sometimes. No worries for Disney though as they know they always have a cadre of willing riders who love cutting to the front of the line so they can get their name called next. Over those nine years though, Disney has had less of these whores to choose from. Sure, some have moved on or passed on to Davy Jones' Locker. Or, as the quality of the films have diminished in many's opinion, less have been willing to step up and over their glowing, hyperbolic praise to appease their dark masters. But there are always a couple and Disney has them in the ads once again.

Before we get to them though, let us take a look back at the progression of the ad quotes for the franchise

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (78% positive at Rotten Tomatoes)
"Dazzling…A colorful and entertaining comic adventure!" - Elvis Mitchell
"Johnny Depp is hilarious!" - David Ansen
"Buy a ticket, take a seat, have a ball!" - Richard Corliss
"Humor, action and thrills…Pirates is the summer blockbuster we’ve been waiting for!" - Claudia Puig
"Three cheers for the rip-roaring Pirates of the Caribbean" - Gene Shalit
"Depp is comic dynamite!" - Peter Travers
"Pirates delivers! Adventure, rousing fun and excitement on a grand scale." - David Sheehan
"Total excitement and a total original!" - Dean Richards
"Great Disney fun for the whole family. Great entertainment aimed right at the kid in every one of us!" - Clay Smith (who then called the DVD – “the ultimate DVD”)
"**** The must-see movie of the summer!" - Steve Oldfield
"The greatest adventure of the summer that will have the whole family cheering. This is one wild ride." - Jeffrey K. Howard
"Brilliant, hilarious, wildly imaginative. You won’t see a more entertaining movie this year!" - Jim Svejda
"The most fun I’ve had this summer at the movies! Johnny Depp is just great!" - Joel Siegel

The late Joel Siegel said that on July 9. Just one week earlier he said the following about Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas:

"This is the most fun, the most exciting action film I’ve seen this summer." - Joel Siegel

Three years later, the first sequel was down in its overall rating by more than 20%, but quotes were up, as was the balance between legit writers and mouth-breathing quote whores

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (54% positive at Rotten Tomatoes)
"Fun for everyone!" - A.O. Scott
"Action, dazzling effects and raucous humor!" - Claudia Puig
"The whole movie is magic." - Gene Shalit
"Johnny Depp is a dream!" - Thelma Adams
"Finally, a movie worth seeing over and over again!" - Larry King
"Awesome!" - Mark S. Allen
"Breahtaking! A brilliant cast." - Mose Persico
"Wickedly funny!" - Lisa Stanley
"Bigger and better than the original." - Jim Ferguson
"The thrill ride adventure continues, even better than the first!" - Guy Farris
"The most thrilling, chilling, breathtaking ride you will take all summer!" - Clay Smith
"Absolutely the best summer movie!" - Joel Siegel
"Spectacular! Intriguing, romantic and suspenseful! The best epic adventure movie of the summer!" - Maria Salas
"You won’t find hotter action, wilder thrills or loopier laughs this summer!" - Peter Travers
"What a movie! A genuine treasure trove of fun and high adventure, loaded with state-of-the-art visual effects that will simply blow you away! As good as gold." - Pete Hammond

The positive numbers were down once again in 2007, though not quite as significantly. But either Disney felt they didn't need the same critical attention with an almost guaranteed $300 million in the bank domestically - or - even the whores weren't as interested.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (45% positive at Rotten Tomatoes)
"The best Pirates yet! Epic and amazing!" - Mark S. Allen
"The best film of the summer." - Tony Toscano
"The greatest adventure of all time." - Lisa Stanley

That's two stints in a row for Mark S. Allen and Lisa Stanley, one contending that it was the best of the series and the other, unflinchingly declaring it the greatest adventure film of all time. More than Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Lord of the Rings, or anything. So now comes the fourth film, another wannabe summer blockbuster that reviewers are calling "a naked cash grab" and "the epitome of lazy filmmaking." Those are just two reviews though and for every honest (if vitriolic response), there is a whore ready to balance it out with their rolodex of adjectives and praise that no one with a critical brain could possibly believe, let alone back up.

"Tons of fun. Pulse-pounding. Exciting. Spectacular. Exhilarating." - Lisa Stanley

It's Stanley for the three-peat! Or perhaps five-peat to match how many quotes she is getting on the commercials for On Stranger Tides. She only got four in last year's ads for Alice In Wonderland as she was contemplating all things "M" ("Masterpiece. Mischievous. Miraculous. Must see.") Actually her latest quote might appropriately be referred to as a sixteen-peat. You see, that is the number of times she has been quoted since 2006. A small number, for certain, compared to Disney's other On Stranger Tides admirer just this year. But all 16 of those quotes have been provided for the Mouse House. That's right, all 16. Here are the rest of them:

"You’ve never seen anything like it." (Cars)
"****" (The Guardian)
"Wickedly funny!" (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest)
"Laugh-out-loud funny!" (The Game Plan)
"Fun and entertaining!" (You Again)
"Heartwarming and inspirational." (Eight Below)
"A must see." (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time)
"A must-see for the entire family! Heartwarming! An adventure with a twist that will leave you breathless." (Bridge to Terabithia)
"Fun for the whole family!" (Hannah Montana: The Movie)
"Magical. The perfect family film." (The Sorcerer's Apprentice)
"The funniest comedy of the fall." (Dan In Real Life)
"The hottest movie of the summer!" (Step Up)
"The most inspirational movie of the year." (Invincible)
"The greatest adventure of all time." (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End)

Do you want to follow Lisa Stanley to the ends of the earth? Especially heading into the supposed rapture this Saturday (May 21, 2011)? Take comfort though non-believers. Even as we head into certain hell, there is still one guy who will stand at the fiery gates to ensure us that it won't be all that bad.

"The perfect summer movie. The best Pirates ever." - Pete Hammond

Really, Pete? Really? As a consensus the series has dropped at Rotten Tomatoes from 78% to 54% to 45% down to a now paltry 37%. Even the revisionist historians can't make a case that it's better than either Terminator 3 (70%) or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (77%). Can you honestly sit in front of a crowded room of POTC fans and sell them on such a statement? What if we reminded them that you are the guy that said "movies don't get more exciting than" Angels and Demons, which you also called "perfect summer entertainment?" Or should they be surprised that the same guy calling On Stranger Tides the best of the franchise is also the one who said "the perfect summer joyride from start to finish line" was Cars; inarguably held universally as the weakest of all the Pixar efforts (10 of their 11 films rate 91% or higher while it remains at 74%.). While we applaud you Disney for continuing to keep Peter Travers away from your ads in 2011 (even he called On Stranger Tides "a giant turd,") this is the fourth time you have gone with the other Pete (some might even say the worse Pete) on the calendar. And after he sullied the good name of Toy Story 3 by saying that Fox's lifeless Rio was "the greatest triumph since" the release of last year's Best Animated Feature Oscar-winner. All of ten months ago. There are seven months left on this year's calendar. Don't waste them by allowing Pete Hammond's name to identify your film as an immediate must-miss.

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originally posted: 05/21/11 00:35:07
last updated: 05/21/11 00:40:31
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