Last night I went to see the newest Pirates of the Caribbean film, On Stranger Tides. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it: indeed I found myself looking forward to seeing it again while walking to school this morning.*
Most noted has been the exclusion of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley’s characters, but I don’t feel they are missing from the film – their plot nicely ended at the end of At World’s End… End.
I was / am more excited by the inclusion of merfolk, sea zombies and especially Edward Teach – the additional nautical folklore. The Pirates films have consistently treated folklore sensibly and well.** While I do not claim that the first two to be unreal, I was most impressed by the treatment of Blackbeard and the historical touches.
My favourite fact about Blackbeard (who is referred to by his real name twice) was that he would set fire to tapers tied to his beard in order to instill fear into his foes (like a fiery chemist); when Blackbeard is introduced in On Stranger Tides, he steps through darkness (á la Barbossa’s revelation in The Curse of the Black Pearl) and the observant viewer notes the glow in his beard.
It is these little details that make me smile.
* Probably not in three dimensions this time.
** Perhaps excluding the anthropomorphication of Davy Jones, of his Locker fame, despite the interesting recaptaincy of the Flying Dutchman.
There has been news this week of Stephen Moffat* being rather irate at the leaking of Doctor Who plotlines to the World Wide Web.
There is little on the subject of spoilers that has not already been said. Spoiled. My irritation with them is that they defuse the power of surprise which I feel is integral in much fiction (that being said, I also enjoy crushing inevitability, but feel that this is much harder to write correctly**).
I would argue that film trailers can be just as bad; and I’m toying with the idea of avoiding them.
Often chided are comedy film trailers that lift all of the best gags and show you them to prove the humour of the forthcoming film; alas catching themselves in the double-bind of selling and spoiling.
That being said, I find that I enjoyed Limitless less for having seen its trailer so thoroughly (one day there may have been over five viewings) and reading more into the story than was there. The trailer suggested a (post-)modern (post-cyberpunk) take on Faust with Bradley Cooper representing the eponymous tragic figure, De Niro as Satan and NZT as the pact. Instead, it was just a pretty good thriller, but a lot less intelligent than I had read into its trailer.
I know that some writers* build this much meaning into their work.Am I wrong to anticipate it?
* I believe Moffat to be one of the two greatest screenwriters at the moment, the other being Joss Whedon. If any of you reading this are able to convince either of these that they want to work on a stage mindreading set, I’ll be very happy and I promise that I might even wave at you in a semi-public place.
** I’ve set myself an especially difficult task in maintaining tension despite the crushing inevitability of Ragnarok in my novel.