Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides DVD Review

Are you savvy?
Judging by the number of sequels the original Pirates of the Caribbean film has spawned, it seems the money men behind disney and Johnny Depp sure as hell are.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides picks up where the last instalment finished off, with Captain Jack Sparrow in search of the legendary fountain of youth.

A succession of Sparrow imposters on dry land, some reluctant while others are a little more willing, draw the original Jack back home as he strives to reclaim the somewhat dubious rights to his own name.

One of these doppelganger’s also carries a treasure trove of skeletons from Sparrow’s past, eventually leading him on another fantastical voyage across at least some of the seven seas in search of his heart’s one true desire.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past decade, I’m sure you already know what to expect from the fourth film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Johnny Depp continues to do his Cap’n Jack Sparrow thing, camping it up on screen as director Rob Marshall contrives one set piece after another that enables Depp to perform some elaborate feat of daring do before cracking a one liner for our benefit.

Geoffrey Rush reprises his role as Captain Hector Barbossa, Penelope Cruz replaces gorgeous boy Keira Knightly in the role of resident female sex symbol as Angelica while the actor formerly known as Lovejoy, Ian McShane, is responsible for bringing Captain Blackbeard to life.

Along the way, they all cross swords with zombies, mermaids and the Spanish armada; only “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is a little too predictable to be enjoyable.

While no Jerry Bruckheimer backed film could ever be labelled small scale, there was something quite charming about the spontaneity and wit of the original Pirates of the Caribbean. Nothing embodied this better than the loose limbed, Keith Richards inspired incarnation of Jack Sparrow that Johnny Depp brought to the big screen.

And though Richards is back for another cameo as Sparrow’s pirate paterfamilias, the action in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides feels forced and formulaic. You can literally see where the writers have listed all the required elements of a successful Pirates film and spot welded them together before labouring to thread together a coherent script around this.

They failed.

In fact, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides doesn’t even bother to pretend the script has to make sense. So now Captain Blackbeard is a master of the dark arts, with the ability to turn people into zombies; only it’s never really explained how or why he came upon these powers.

It doesn’t stop there; Blackbeard also commands dominion over his ship, The Queen Anne’s Revenge, seemingly alive at the command of his sword and capable of breathing fire from her bow.

Again, how or why this came to pass is never explored; it’s in the script and you saw the previous films so we don’t have to craft a lucid narrative anymore.

Then there’s the in no way tacked on side romance involving a mermaid and a cleric, who know each other’s names without even having to ask.

Well I have a question that really needs an answer; did anyone involved in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides read the damn script before making it?

It would have taken all of half an hour for someone who wasn’t suckling on disney’s corporate teat to point out how ridiculous it was.

Of course, I’ve come to expect this from the likes of disney and anyone who gets into bed with them; but I still harboured hopes that Johnny Depp was a little more than this.

For the first time in his eclectic and illustrious acting career, there were times where it seemed like Depp was simply going through the motions; as if he’s bored of the iconic character he created.

That said, there’s still more bonhomie in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides than its flabby predecessor, which makes this bottle a half full experience.

I just hope Depp pulls anchor, hoists mizzen and reclaims his acting name for all our sakes.


Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

September 2011