The Twenty-First Century

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [2011]

Who needs Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom when you can get Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane? So ballsy. And while this fourth installment lacks the freshness of the first “Pirates” movie, the good news is:  it’s far more superior than “Dead Man’s Chest” and the dreadful “At World’s End”. Director Rob Marshall, in for Gore Verbinski (who misdirected the last two movies) finds his pace, staging one enjoyable sequence after another. Yet plot-wise, “On Stranger Tides” is basically an old fashioned story with a twist. When the film opens, we find Jack Sparrow (once again played by Johny Depp) in search for a ship in London. However, he learns that someone is impersonating him and is busy recruiting a crew in a race against the spaniards to search for the fountain of youth. Sounds like an Indiana Jones episode to me. Anyway, while at the recruiting station, Jack runs into his father, and old flame Angelica (Cruz). After a night of drinking and sword play, our man finds himself on board Blackbeard’s ship (Ian McShane), en route to find the fountain. Throw in Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa, now a one-legged captain working on behalf of the King of England, and you’ve got something close to a piratical wacky races.

As far as sequels go, it’s rare that third time’s the charm. But to be completely honest here, the “Pirates” franchise definitely gets back on track with “On Stranger Tides”. It plays surprisingly well, and makes clever use of its locations, and predominantly, Johny Depp, who let’s face it, sleepwalked through the last two movies. Rush, McShane, Cruz and newcomer Sam Claffin (as a religious man who falls in love with a mermaid!) seem to know exactly what the audience wants this time. Depp looks a lot more comfortable, and his character is much more interesting.  Rush, though always terrific, seems to be having the time of his life in this installment! The big surprise here though is Cruz, a feisty/deadly woman- a perfect match for Depp.

The film’s biggest downfall however is that it tries too hard to create a bunch of cliffhanger stunts, that it fails to give us a chance to take a deep breath. Not to mention the many unexplained plot elements (blame it on lazy writing); what exactly are blackbeard’s powers? Why are some of his crew zombies? Where did he get that voodoo doll of Jack in the first place? And so on and so forth. Yet despite all of its apparent flaws, “On Stranger Tides” still managed to entertain me; it’s certainly no masterpiece, but as far as escapism goes, it can’t get any better than this. Of course the franchise might seem to be running out of steam by now (seen that, done that), but if a sequel is being cooked, count me in.

Rating: 2.5/4

4 replies »

  1. i’d give it a 3 compared to the third one honestly. the story is much more straight forward and the new characters are a nice addition to it. yet once again 3D failed to impress me and not worth it honestly…its becoming annoying! I was expecting the movie to be a FAIL one but i was wrong! it was refreshing and fun to watch

    • I gave the 3rd movie a 0 rating. So yes compared to the previous one, On Stranger Tides is a masterpiece. Loved the str8forward story (similar to an indiana jones film), and the new characters are more fun to watch. 3D was terrible once again. But overall, it’s a fun ride.

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