Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

May 23, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

This Pirates of the Caribbean film really brings it back to the style of the first film.  Yes, it is absurd in that has mermaids, zombies, and voodoo, but it is a stand alone film.  It leaves itself plenty open for sequel, but it doesn’t require one.  If Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz decide not to come back and do another film, it isn’t a big deal, even though Penelope Cruz’s character would make sense in a sequel, she can even be replaced as there are a number of ways that it can go.  This was fun like the first one, a bit absurd, but very strong in terms of a stand alone summer sort of film.  With as bad as the summer films could have been, they have turned out quite nicely thus far.

The story is that of Jack Sparrow trying to make is way to the Fountain of Youth.  Not because he really wants to, all he really wants is The Black Pearl back (yet again), but Angelica (Penelope Cruz), basically kidnaps him to work for her father, Blackbeard, on his ship and to get him to the fountain of youth because it has been prophesied that he will be killed by the one legged man, Barbossa, who managed to escape from the Black Pearl before Blackbeard captured it.  Barbossa knows that Blackbeard is going after this, so he slides himself in with the British government in order to have a ship to go after Blackbeard and the fountain of youth.  At the same time, a Spanish general goes after it as well.  Leading to a three way race to get two silver chalices and a mermaids tear.  Much confusion, betrayal, and randomness happens on the way to the fountain of youth.

The acting is what you expect from a Pirates of the Caribbean film.  Johnny Depp slides back into his role of Captain Jack Sparrow very nicely, and it was kind of refreshing to not have Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley playing opposite him in the lead roles.  Penelope Cruz does a good job of stepping in as a sweet lady who Jack had corrupted and Ian McShane does a good job stepping in as Blackbeard, neither performance is astounding, but they are as good if not better than those of Bloom and Knightley.  Geoffrey Rush comes back as Barbossa, and he really does a very good job as Barbossa.  There are a few other characters that are brought back, but for the most part, there aren’t any other strongly memorable performances.  Keith Richards makes another guest appearance which is okay, but really could have been done without.

In terms of the level of competence in the film making, the direction by Rob Marshall is good, and the screenplay, while having some very absurd elements to it, is strong.  They manage to add in zombies and mermaids very well.  The voodoo aspect gets a bit shaky at a couple of points as Blackbeard is able to control parts of his ship with just his sword, I felt like that was over the top, but the voodoo doll of Jack Sparrow was a nice touch and didn’t seem too strange at all.  The score, by Hans Zimmer, was good as always and was similar to the previous ones which makes all the films have the same feel quite nicely.

Overall this was an entertaining film.  It won’t get a ton of critical love because there isn’t anything all that special about it, but it is a summer film, and it is rare that summer films, like Thor and the Pirates films, get all that much love.  I’d place this as the second best pirates film, and while I did enjoy the second and the third, even with their absurdity (and you have to view them as a single film), this fourth one is much closer to the first than either the second or third were.

Entertainment Grade: A-

Critical Grade: C

Overall Grade: B+


One comment

  1. This one didn’t feel as epic as the second and third Pirates films and in many ways that’s a good thing. I also wish they did more with Captain Jack, but Depp is always amusing as him, and I still had some fun with this enjoyable Summer blockbuster. Good review, check out mine when you can!

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