Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review
Dinah's Rating: 6.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 5.6/10
(4 reviews total)
The trailers playing ahead of the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
offer an inkling of who this franchise's main audience now is: Zookeeper, Mr. Popper’s Penguins
and The Muppets
. Given the adventure, the tension and the boldness of the rum-drinking, shaggy-haired Captain Jack Sparrow, one would assume the high jinks of this growing series would take the higher ground of kid-friendly fare. That would be wrong. Of all four installments in the franchise, this is certainly the most subdued and benign. Despite some bawdy humor between Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, “On Stranger Tides” is child’s play.
The characters are misused in this chapter, which is propped up for another sequel in a post-credit scene. Penelope Cruz is introduced to the franchise as Angelica, a beautiful woman from Sparrow’s past. It is revealed immediately, via the most for-the-adults-and-not-the-kids dialogue that the Sparrow deflowered her at a convent where she had planned to become a nun. Angelica is searching for the Fountain of Youth, a destination Sparrow got a map to find in “At World’s End.” What the saucy Spaniard doesn’t tell him is that the ship they sail is that of the elusive and fabled Blackbeard, played most venomously by Ian McShane.
What might be the most unusual, though not off-putting, aspect of this new edition is the theological theme of faith and salvation shrouded amidst the story. Each team is seeking the Fountain of Youth, some as an act of laying down their life for another, others for revenge. Jack Sparrow unwittingly rides along, and The Spaniard (Óscar Jaenada), a mysterious character from the opening scene has a reason I will not reveal. Among the new editions you did not see in the trailers is that of a clergyman, Sam Claflin, who is strung up aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge
for the sole purpose of converting the malicious Blackbeard.
Ian McShane is given ample room to play here and he eats up the screen with pleasure. He is as sinister as Al Swearengen, whom he made popular in the HBO series Deadwood.
But he is also a great deal more cool and deadly. Blackbeard is experienced in dark arts. In his glorious unveiling, he emerges from his cabin with nappy hair braided just like our protagonist Sparrow save an effective addition: coal burning beads at the tips. Blackbeard is like a spawn of hell sacrificing the lives of his crew with ease, murdering them by fire, bringing many back to life as zombies and torturing one with a voodoo doll. This guy is bad news and McShane handles his lines with a silver tongue, casting them about like a whip.
Cruz is also a welcome addition, and the good looking and chiseled Christian missionary as well. It is actually the returning characters that are a bit of problem. Gibbs (Kevin McNally) is obviously there for continuity’s sake. He pushes an aspect of the plot along. Captain Barbosa is a despicable waste, however. Geoffrey Rush is ridiculous in his English wig and powdered face. He now has an adapted appendage, though I won’t tell you which, for your own amusement.
There are some things that the “Pirates” movies always get right. The music by Hans Zimmer is spot on and joyfully used. That signature sound beams across every well-crafted fight scene, which brings me to the next highlight. The action sequences are a never-ending barrage of sword swinging, cannon bombing, gun blazing amusement. The chase scenes are also worth a giggle, especially the initial castle escape and carriage race. Sparrow is the guy you root for in these scenes; it is about the only time he shines in this picture. The styling and editing are a nice touch at times, though the pacing leaves much to be desired. This is a long movie. The dialogue just keeps going on and on and the action scenes just extend forever. Fifteen to thirty minutes could have been shaved to no detriment.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has a better end than beginning. What is underwhelming in the opening scenes continues to the bitter end. Mermaid vampires, zombies, a gaggle of new characters and still the same convoluted plot just isn’t as fun the fourth time around. Although Ian McShane makes a noble effort and supporting characters offer laughs and sentiment, the recurring characters we ought to love just waste their screen time. It is inevitably a bit of a bore.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Directed by Rob Marshall
Written by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush
Other Player Affinity Reviews
"After the two behemoth back-to-back sequels, the brief break here to recalibrate Capt. Jack Sparrow's compass seems to have paid off — at least for "Pirates" fans. Those who never took too warmly to the franchise to begin with will find no reason to change their stance, but those who've always loved Depp as Capt. Jack will enjoy that he becomes the center of attention here on this simple and non-convoluted quest to find the Fountain of Youth. Among all the new additions to the cast, Ian McShane wows the most as the merciless and voo-doo-capable pirate Blackbeard, giving the franchise its first truly evil antagonist. New director Rob Marshall delivers a killer (literally) mermaid sequence, but the rest of the film is run-of-the-mill. Although "On Stranger Tides" is a serviceable sequel, one can't imagine where this franchise could possibly go next, at least in such a way worthy of another two-plus hours." Rating: 7/10
Julian thought: "Where should I even begin on this disastrous sequel? Imagine Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, the overstuffed third installment in the famous franchise. Keep in the same amount of filler, but make it less confusing. Keep it just as trivial, also, but chop off a half hour of the running time. Congratulations: you now have Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Captain Jack Sparrow and Johnny Depp’s awesome portrayal of him are easily the best aspects of the series, but it works best a sideshow to the romance between Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan, portrayed by Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in previous installments. Now that those two are gone, it’s up to Sparrow to carry the story, and he sadly disappoints. The plot is overly simplistic, but the screenwriters throw in a love story involving mermaids and some new characters, hoping that everything works out. Unfortunately, hardly any of it benefits the already flimsy feature. Penelope Cruz is perhaps the best new aspect of “Pirates” as the daughter of Blackbeard, but even with her on board, this film feels like a sunken ship, or rather, it should be a sunken ship. 3D also doesn't do the film any justice." Rating: 3/10
"After the amazing mess of a film that was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
, the makers of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strangers Tides
did the best thing they could do: simplify the film and give all the characters and factions the same goal. Whilst “On Strangers Tides” is better then “At World’s End,” it is not as good as “Curse of the Black Pearl” or “Dead Man’s Chest.” “On Strangers Tides” has the blandest action scenes of the series, with the exception of the mermaid attack. Rob Marshall does not have Gore Verbinski’s visual flair. Geoffrey Rush seemed to be in the film simply for the paycheque, but the rest of the cast was solid. Penelope Cruz was a real firecracker and should be in the fifth film. Johnny Depp is always fun as Jack Sparrow, even if he is less of a double crosser this time round. “On Stranglers Tides” is an average blockbuster." Rating: 6/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 5.6/10