Fun with Franchises: Our Favorite Images from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
One of the recurring features that we do in Fun with Franchises (a feature within a feature) is, after we finish watching a film, we go through and pick out our favorite images from that film. These images could be anything from really famous images from the film or franchise, really beautifully composed shots, shots that are funny to us because of the facial expressions being made in them or because of what we said about them in the article in which they appeared, or simply because they have boobs in them.
What we usually do is, just how we watch the films, Colin and I go in separately and pick out about ten to fifteen shots that we really liked. Then we compare lists, and whichever ones we both picked automatically go on our final list. And everything else we talk through and discuss why we like them, and eventually we’re left with a final list of ten images we liked the best, along with ten honorable mentions, which were also as good, but just missed out on making the list proper.
It’s not very complicated (like most things we do here on B+ Movie Blog), and is just a way for us to point out shots that we really liked in the films, especially since we tend to pick stuff that’s not always on the beaten path. (We also don’t officially rank the list of shots. We just put them in chronological order. Simply picking them is hard enough. We don’t want to make our lives any harder. Plus, we’re lazy.)
That said — here are our favorite images from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides:
That’s me, coming into this article.
Because man, could I not be less enthused about having to pick shots for this movie. Every goddamn scene was dark as shit! Of course we found shots, though.
We always find shots.
We even found a lot of shots. And as usual, we had to hack away at our number until it fit the format of the article.
Fuck you, bush.
Anyway, let’s get into some shots I liked that didn’t make the cut.
We’ll start with this one, because I think the framing is really good. If the shot itself was just a little bit crisper, and they focused better on the guys chasing after him, it probably would have made the top ten or at worst honorable mentions. But, as it stands, the framing is really good and it’s a really smart shot. But, like a lot of shots in this movie, it wasn’t fully taken advantage of even though it was right there for the taking.
This. Window. Color. Symmetry.
And speaking of windows — all this is is a shot of an empty window. And it looks fucking good. This could be a painting. I’d have made sure this went on if we didn’t already have a shot without anything in it appearing.
Speaking of empty frames — literally just a shot of the ocean. And it looks better than the entire first three Twilight movies.
That was a full-body tally ho. The judges give him 10 points for that one.
I just like lighthouses.
Colin and I also like cavern shots.
I also like shots of destruction.
And you know we also like simple shots. (There’ll be one in the top ten, even.) WE go on and on about how, sometimes, it’s best just to frame a character against a background, and focus only on them. For example: this shot. All it is is Jack smiling, and then trees in the background. But the trees provide a perfect background to him, and all you have to focus on is just him and him only. It’s a perfect image in its simplicity, and if there weren’t a better one, I’d have fought to at least put this in the honorable mentions.
Oh, and another example of this — this shot. It’s Jack, on the deck, with a gun pointed on him. Colin pointed this out in the articles and picked it for his shots. I had initially ignored it for mine (given how many I had), but the more I look at it, the more I like it. Because all you see is him and the deck for 95% of the frame. And what makes it better, the deck is brown and reflecting white, and the lighting is almost red, so it perfectly complements all of the colors he’s wearing. The deck and lighting are the exact color of Johnny Depp. It’s perfect. (So glad I took that class on Color. Now I can talk about this shit when I see it.)
How Barton Fink is this shot?
And there’s something about this shot that I really like as well. I think it’s because its so overcast, and the men almost look like black dots just standing there on this landscape. Big fan of this.
Also, one honorable mention I did want to put in the article, just because — I normally don’t go for this sort of stuff, but this time, I really did.
And it’s this shot:
Like I said, I don’t really go for the obvious 3D shot, but in this franchise — it felt really appropriate. This is the 3D shot this franchise is allowed. It’s absolutely perfect for this franchise, and it looks really good on top of that. So this is a personal honorable mention for me, and for once, I’m actually okay with something in 3D.
Back to my intro list…
One thing you guys know I also like is when things look like they’re shot on soundstages (because they are). This film has no shortage of that. Look at this! That shit looks like they could have pulled up to it in 1945 and no one would know the difference. I love that. This looks so backlot.
Also — huge fan of when something looks like a soundstage and artfully works rear projection into the mix.
And of course we have to mention The Fountain of Youth. Because that place looked nice. Like how it had that skylight coming down the middle with the hanging vines. Or this shot, with the silhouettes of everyone as they approach it. This is a good set. (And apparently is a real place.)
This shot at the end of the movie I really like. Because it’s Depp coming off a boat, framed by the sky and the nice color of the water, and then you have that log framing the entire bottom of the image and really focusing your attention on Depp and the water. (Not to mention the water is accentuating the red on his bandana, making him pop out of the frame even more. Then there’s that strip of sand there as well…. Nice shot.
This shot is also really nice. There’s something about it. I don’t know, the fort/stone location, the lighting, the fact that it so clearly looks like a set, the silhouette of Barbossa (the peg leg actually does help when you set him up in a nice shot), and the fact that everyone else is standing so still. So good job with this one. It’s not quite a perfect image, but I appreciate the effort.
Speaking of shots that are good in concept but not quite there in execution — this shot really had the potential to be a top tenner for both of us. Colin had it on his list, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to put it on mine. Conceptually, this is amazing. Blackbeard opens fire (literally) on the longboat, and we cut to underneath the water as the flames engulf the poor cook (oh, sweet irony). My problem with it is how obviously CG it is. There’s no way any of this is real. And if they had done this for real, I’d have been all over this shot. Or at least if they even tried to make it look real. But you can tell, with all the fire and explosions in this movie (remember the explosion at Whitecap Bay, with the mermaids and the barrels? That looked fake as shit. And this looks fake too. And I didn’t want to reward them for being good in concept but lazy in execution. So this only goes here.
Look at this jizz water. Now, I don’t just have this here because it looks like jizz water. Not just. I like it because of how crisp and weird the water looks, and because the entire frame is red, white and blue. It’s red, white and blue jizz water. AMERICA. WE JIZZ ON EVERYTHING.
I think we both liked this shot, of the cave being reflected through the water droplet, but we just didn’t have enough space on the list for it.
This expression is really funny. Colin turned me onto this one. This is where the mermaid goes to walk and falls down. And Blackbeard’s all like, “Wow, you can’t walk for shit.”
And one more, before we get into our list, which will be subtitled only one word: “Context”
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1. Y’all Are Surrounded
It’s a nice shot. Finally they fucking cut wide. I mean, they cut out like three times during this, but the wide shot is so welcome. And a legitimate one, with real people and a location, unlike that one they cut to when they’re in the carriage, when it’s clearly CG. The only thing this needs is to be a little further back, to get the rest of that arch in there.
I like it when things are in square formations. And brick buildings are cool. I’m particularly big on cobbled courtyards. That’s why I love Europe so much. Stones and cobbles and shit everywhere. The thing that really irked me about this shot was that it had to be a zoom. They couldn’t just let it be a shot of the action through the arch. This shot is on this list, but I wish I could be behind it 100 percent, because it was almost perfect. You know what’s not perfect? The top of the arch is cut off. Why is the top of the arch cut off? Zoom.
2. Richard Griffiths
This is the best shot in the movie. How can it not be? We had to give this the justice it deserves.
That said, after our comments, we’re just gonna link to all of Richard Griffith’s faces in this movie.
Because the man is a treasure.
Best shot in the movie. Look at that. I have nothing more to say.
3. Underwater Shots
Because they really know how to shoot underwater in this franchise, and the lighting makes this work. The lighting actually does remind us of Deakins in the third act of Sykfall.
There is a lot of this in this movie. Not at all a bad thing. Like I said, it sort of reminds me of Skyfall, and even though this ain’t Deakins, reminding me a bit of Deakins is a mark in this film’s favor.
4. Blackbeard’s Entrance, or: BOOZE
What a great way to enter a film, emerging from the darkness, drinking liquor from a cloudy bottle.
And to make things even better, his first line is, after emerging from the darkness, finishing his drink, he surveys the scene, says, “Gentlemen…”, and —
He takes another fucking drink!
How awesome is that? Darkness, booze, “Gentlemen…” booze. Any line that ends with booze, especially your FIRST line… it wins everything.
I’m sure there are pictures of me doing this somewhere. At some point, I’ve definitely walked out of the darkness while drinking. At some point, I’ve definitely _____________ while drinking.
5. Rum and Apple Slices
Because what do we know about pirates? They like rum. What do we know about Barbossa? He likes apples. So now that he’s working for the British, he can’t be a filthy pirate. He has to be a gentleman. So he’s going to pretend like he’s a gentleman. Which involves a knife and fork and sipping your booze in a fancy teacup. It’s great because you know he’s still not a gentleman regardless. He’s still Barbossa. This isn’t tea and cucumber sandwiches. He’s still him, and he’s trying to be genteel. Look at the way he eats that apple slice.
And to top it off, Gillette then shows up and he turns around and goes, “Aye?” with a mouthful of apple, which is the least polite thing to do.
God, I fucking love Barbossa.
I love this so much. This is Barbossa pretending to be something he isn’t, but only the context and delivery has changed. We all know and love Barbossa drinking his booze and eating his apples. Usually, it’s a whole apple and a bottle of booze, since he’s a pirate scumbag. Now that he’s pretending to be respectable, he gets to eat and drink the same things, but he gets to be a goofy fuck.
The phrases “since he’s a pirate scumbag” and “but he gets to be a goofy fuck” made me laugh my ass off.
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6. This shot
I like that there’s nobody in this shot. These are the kind of shots Gore Verbinski would find.
But then he’d frame his actors or the action inside of it.
What does Rob Marshall do? He just has Depp run across the frame and we pan away from it.
But honestly, given how dark things are in this movie (lighting-wise) and how many shots they fuck up, it’s a relief to have something like this where there’s nobody in it. We’re almost going back to the Twilight rule. “What? A good-looking shot? And none of the dumbass characters or story in it? That’s the one.”
Kinda looks nice. Cliffs are nice.
7. This shot
This is an easy choice, but I don’t care. In a Gore Verbinski film, this would maybe make an honorable mention. In this film, it goes here, because in terms of framing and everything, they finally did something right. I like that the ship is framed up there by the arch, and you have all the rocks down below. It’s a nice image. We’re probably overreaching, but I think that’s fitting for this movie.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again — that is one gaping rock vagina. To be honest, I don’t LOVE love this shot, but it’s better than par for this course.
8. Booze Leg
This is the single greatest thing we are introduced to in this movie. One of our most beloved characters lost his leg for no reason, but, making it tolerable, that leg is filled with booze.
And the second shot I love because it’s just the two of them, drinking from a booze leg and just talking about shit.
Not to mention, this is the best scene in the film, for reasons other than this. So that only makes things better.
Richard Griffiths was the best shot of this movie. This is the best thing. They had to give Barbossa a peg leg to advance the plot? Fine. But you better do something cool with that, and that’s exactly why this is AWESOME. The scene works already, but this puts it over the top for awesomeness.
9. This shot
You know we love simple shots.
This one is great. It’s Jack, against fog, which makes him pop out of the frame real well, and then you have the hanging vines, which make for a nice touch.
Simple shots are great. It’s sad that we had almost this exact shot with Kristen Stewart instead of Johnny Depp. But the fact remains — it looks good.
10. Shoo, Bitch, Get Out the Way
This felt like a fitting final shot for the top ten and the franchise.
She’s screaming at him because he’s leaving her on an island, and he’s just like, “Shoo, get out of here, I got things to do.”
You gotta love someone who will just shoo someone out of the way.
Plus the view doesn’t suck.
This is my favorite aspect of Jack Sparrow. He shoos bitches. He’s been shooin’ bitches since been shooin’ bitches. And it’s always great. It was great when he was getting Keira to stand up from over the Dead Man’s Chest, but I applauded at this. He’s WALKING AWAY and MAROONING HER! He doesn’t even LOOK! This is like, full on crazy person shooing. God, I loved this.
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Before we have our honorable mentions, I think it’s time for a titty break:
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- The King’s Palace
This place is nice. I love places where they take the time to make things look nice. That ceiling took a fuck long time to paint, but now it’s gonna look good for centuries. And that door and balcony look really nice (plus it goes back to things looking good when no one is in the shot). And that side shot is actually the one we both chose. Which I was surprised about. I thought I’d be the only one to pick that and I’d use the other ones to pad my reasoning. So I was really pleasantly surprised when Colin had it too. It looks fucking nice. Plus he’s trying to move heavy ass chair, which is pretty funny. Anything done in long shot is funny. And then the last one — they have a mural door! That’s awesome! And the shot is really nice, and this room is beautiful. So there’s that.
I like this place, but it looks like you can’t touch shit. Who could live in a place like this? It’s all gorgeous, and nice to live in, but…holy shit.
- Judi Dench
Oh my God. Dear me. Would you look at that.
And let me be the one to say it, because it has to be said — titties.
- This shot
I love that they had the balls to drop the fire right in front of the camera and have it burst up into the entire frame. And I like all the little flakes at the top. That’s what really makes it for me.
This is some MarioKart shit. Goddamn. But I still laugh whenever horse-drawn carts (not stagecoaches) are shot the way a Fast and the Furious movies are. Like they’re doing a shit zillion miles an hour. Fire makes this sort of exciting. Not the blurry images of a wooden cart topping out at the speed of a Segway.
- Ships on the Water
The first one doesn’t hold a candle to any of the one in the previous films, but it’s good for this film. The night one actually does look nice. And even though the third one is mostly CG (since there are fucking mermaids ripping the men apart), I like the grayscale and how rainy it is. We don’t get any of these in this franchise. So I appreciated it.
There weren’t nearly enough of these.
- This shot
The color of the rocks is what makes this for me. And waves crashing up against rocks always looks good too.
That looks like a painting. We like shots that look like that, but this one looks pretty good. Honestly, if something looked reasonably good and wasn’t at night, then it had a decent shot of making the cut, but this actually looks beautiful.
- “Don’t touch the map”
Favorite line in the film. Depp touches the map and the skeleton turns toward him, so Rush just mouths to him “Don’t. Touch. The Map.” And it’s fucking hilarious. It really plays well in a theater, too. It’s a great moment.
Yes. You whisper, because this IS probably a creepy Pale Man Spanish skeleton dude who will wake up and eat your fairies if you disturb him.
- This place
I love opposing angles. Camera tilted up and to the right, the cave is angled down and to the right. All the people and the torch lighting detract from the shot, but the opposite angle is really nice. And Colin picked it too, so I felt we should have included it.
These opposite angle shots are always good. This one made me think of True Grit when she’s down the crevasse about to get bitten. But this is also the sort of shot that BBC documentaries would use. It’s hard to tell which way is down.
“Down in the crevasse, about to get bitten.”
- Out of the Mist
You know we love ‘out of the mist’ shots. We’ve had one in every franchise so far.
Every franchise has one. There will always be a line of figures emerging from the mist. You have to wonder if anyone thinks they’re being creative with this, but it certainly looks good. And it’s Barbossa.
- This place
Because look at this. Every one of these films has one of these. And they always look nice.
Simple shot. Penelope, this background. Mmm.
And the wide shot. Seriously, look at this place.
God, I was so glad to see this place. This whole movie has been shitty locations, but we finally ended up with ONE beautiful little island and the nice, clear water. Look at how good that top image looks. Mmmmmm.
- This shot
Beautiful image. It looks good, and I love that it’s shot from the back. This is a perfect image to end on.
He gets his Revenge. I’m glad you can’t see his face, cause you get to imagine it. And it’s probably like, “I am gonna make such sweet, sweet love to this ship.”
And that’ll do it for our favorite images.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta see a man about a goat.
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Tomorrow is final thoughts.
(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)