Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

in IMAX 3D

Year:  2011
Rating:  PG-13
Runtime:  2 HRS, 17 MIN
Director Rob Marshall
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane

Film Rating:  1 out of 5 stars

Here’s a little history about my feelings towards the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise:

Curse of the Black Pearl-  Highly enjoyable popcorn flick.  Very little substance but it looked slick, had standout performances by Depp and Rush.  Left me looking forward the inevitable sequel.

Dead Man’s Chest-   Depp is promoted from comic relief to star (not a good thing in my opinion), no Geoffrey Rush till the final moments.  The story was convoluted and I found myself no longer caring what happened to any of the characters.  Cliffhanger ending gave me some hope that the franchise might redeem itself.

At World’s End-  Words can’t describe my disdain for the film.  I ended up walking out and never bothered to finish the film.

Four years have now passed and I’m writing this blog and it occurs to me that I should probably write about this movie since it is one of the more highly anticipated summer films.  For the past several months when I’ve seen the trailer I’ve made sure to mention how miserable it looks so unfortunately I think I’ve already biased myself against the film.  With that in mind I’ve tried to remind myself to go into today’s showing with an open mind, keeping in mind this film’s target audience and what they’re trying to achieve this time around.

My thoughts… What a fucking shipwreck.

To quickly summarize the plot, Jack Sparrow, Barbossa (Rush), Blackbeard (McShane), and Angelica (Cruz) are all after the fountain of youth.  Alternating between two and sometimes three story lines, On Stranger Tides is a slow, jumbled mess.  I found my checking my watch less than thirty minutes in and cringing at the fact that there was still an hour and forty-five minutes left.

We both wear fake beards in this film but which one pulls it off more convincingly?

So what’s wrong with On Stranger Tides?  In short, it’s boring.  For a movie about pirates, pirate ships, mermaids, pirate zombies, “swashbuckling”, un-dead bearded captains, and the fountain of youth the movie really is a bore.  For a 2hr, 17min film there are surprising long periods where there is nothing happening except for talk about “what we’re doing is wrong” and Depp and Cruz trying to decide which one looks more feminine.  Yo Ho, a pirate’s life for me indeed.

The script doesn’t do the film any favors either.  Penelope Cruz sounds like a bag full cats being slammed against a tree anytime she raises her voice (thanks again for ruining Blow for me bitch).  I’m not even going to try and figure out why Blackbeard’s ship has flame throwers or why he can use his sword like a pirate ship remote control.  There’s also a weird side story featuring a “Bible Thumper” and a mermaid, not sure why I’m supposed to care about the “Bible Thumper” since all he does is talk about saving souls and takes his shirt off.  Depp does his usual aloof pirate routine that I thought was “cute” in the original film but now runs a bit thin.  The only performances that standout is once again Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa and Pirate’s newcomer Ian McShane as Blackbeard.  They absolutely steal the show and are the only shining points in an otherwise dull as dishwater film.

It’s convenient how my hair happens to fall perfectly over my breasts every time you think they’re
going to come out to party.

I have to assume that a major contributing factor to my boredom with Pirates 4 stems from its director Rob Marshall.  When I first saw he was directing the film I had to double check to make sure that I was thinking about the right Rob Marshall.  As it turns out, I was. This Rob Marshall directed 2002′s Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, and 2009′s Nine with Daniel Day Lewis.  None of these movies scream “Put that man in charge of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise”!  I’m not quite sure what Disney execs were thinking when hiring him for movie like Pirates 4.  He’s clearly got a good eye but I don’t think putting a director that’s mainly worked on musicals in charge of a pirate movie costing $200+ million really adds up.  Rob Marshall directed a very pretty pirate adventure but seemed to forget that pirate films usually have action in them.

The look of Pirates 4 is fine. It’s a good looking film that was shot in 3D, except for the effects that were converted to 3D.  There are only a few instances where there are cheesy “coming at you” effects.  The 3D is mostly used to create a sense of depth.  I saw On Stranger Tides in an IMAX theater but once again this was a film that was converted to IMAX in post production and does not feature any special IMAX scenes (ala The Dark Knight, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen).  There’s no special reason to see the film in IMAX unless you prefer that format and I think I would have “enjoyed” the film just as much in regular Digital 3D or just by throwing my $15 in the trash and going home.

Save your money, burn your money, or have bums dance for it but whatever you do avoid watching Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  You’ve been warned.

Written by

Nicholas Herum

  • Anonymous

    I agree totally. The story never really develops and who really gives a crap about a religious guys and a mermaid? ~JD