By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides disappoints on all levels, taking away all the magic of the original three films and replacing it with redundancies, a broken plot and an immediately forgettable story.
The film spins off a sub plot from the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which gave Jack Sparrow the map to find the fountain of youth. He heads south to find the fountain, although followed closely by Captain Barbosa, a villainess former love of Jack, Angelina, and the evil pirate Blackbeard. The rivals race to be the first to capture the magic of the fountain of youth.
Disappointed is the best way to describe how to feel about this film. It could have and should have been great, but simply fell short. Director Rob Marshall saw what worked in the first three Pirates films and screamed at the top of his lungs “This needs to be bigger! Meaner! Faster!” The film certainly encompasses those values. The movie’s action is non-stop, with any gaps replaced by the normal Jack Sparrow debauchery.
Depp’s performance is on the same par as his performance in At World’s End. By the second film, his antics had started to run dry, and the film suffers as a part of it. Cruz does her part as Sparrow’s love interest and rival, adding another female piece to the series that has experienced a drastic lack of female integrity.
Ian McShane plays Blackbeard well, although the character seems to miss the mark. Blackbeard is a larger than life character, with the personality of Barbosa mixed in with the harshness and heartlessness of Davy Jones. He plays the villain well, and fits into the movie nicely.
The action sequences are the highlight of the film, with great set pieces thrown in. The mermaid sequence is the most frightening and intense since the Kraken fight at the end of the second film. For younger audiences, the mermaid’s quick turn from beautiful to deadly is quick, unnerving and pretty scary.
The mermaid sequence also spawns one of the worst sub-plots I have seen in a while. Marshall obviously wanted to find something to compensate for the loss of Bloom and Knightley’s love story, so he threw together a missionary and a mermaid. Having the mermaid naked for the whole film and the missionary without a shirt on was obviously a targeted ploy to make up for lost cast members. It was mainly unnecessary, only good for one small piece of the plot.
One set of characters that were unneeded in the film were the Zombies of Blackbeard’s crew. It is said early on that they were “zombified”, but that’s about it. They look like they are supposed to be on the crew of the Black Pearl, only with a few more rings and piercings. It seemed like Marshall just threw those characters in so that he could get the teenage, zombie-starved crowds into the theaters.
The plot does not progress well at all. Even though the film has the series’ shortest running time at just over two hours, it felt long-winded and over-stretched. By the time that the crew reaches the Fountain of Youth, you feel inclined to shout “Thank God!”, but then you’re stuck for another 25 minutes of the finale.
On Stranger Tides will be looked at as an under realized spin-off, and immediately forgettable. The film sets up perfectly for another installment and a new story arc which could be the series’ redemption for the second and third films of the original trilogy, but only if the series drastically improves from this installment. I see Pirates: OST as the Elektra of Disney films, an unnecessary spinoff meant to be a cash cow, thrown together and hoping that sensory entertainment will supplant actual good filmmaking.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides should suffice for fans and serves as two hours of mundane, purely sensory entertainment. Sorry Jack, but the ship has sailed on this series.
*Note*: I saw the movie in 2D, not 3D. There were obvious times in which I could tell the 3D effects were being made, and in those scenes, even the standard 2D popped out of the screen. It was a cool effect, and I’m sure that the film looked better in 3D.