Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

When the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction opened at Disneyland in the 60’s it was a simple boat ride with singing robot pirates. Over the years the attraction has received several facelifts but still managed to retain its charm and I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland in California and see it with my own eyes right before it underwent its greatest makeover courtesy of Hollywood. Since the first Pirates of the Caribbean film burst onto the scene Disney have upgraded the ride big time with all new robots and characters from the film series such as Jack Sparrow & Captain Barbossa. With all the changes you get the feeling that the ride has lost its old school charm and in many ways the films have suffered from the same fate, the first film was great and sequels have failed to live up to the charm of the original. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ is the forth film in the ‘Pirates’ franchise and follows the continuing adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he hunts down the fountain of youth. Hindering Sparrows attempts are former foe Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), an old flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz) & the pirate all pirates fear…Blackbeard (Ian McShane). ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ proves that Captain Jack Sparrow has passed his used by date in a film with bad direction, plotting & a bloated running time. The presence of Geoffrey Rush and a great set piece involving mermaids prove to be the films highlights but it’s a very sleepy boat ride on the high seas.

The plot of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stanger Tides’ is pretty straight forward, get to the fountain of youth before someone else does. In the beginning the premise is intriguing but it loses steam quickly as you discover what each characters intentions which are frankly…boring as bat shit, at one point I was questioning whether certain characters wanted eternal youth or just a new water feature for their front garden. A really irritating part of the plot is the way the scriptwriters try and inject a love story into the film that does nothing to push the story forward and is just a stand in for the romance of the absent Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly (good riddance). Muddling up the visuals is director Rob Marshall (Chicago & Memoirs of a Geisha) who shows promise with an exciting action set piece involving mermaids but the rest is a real disappointment. A lot of the action in this film feels staged and the dull moments outweigh the action as the film shudders to a halt. Marshall messes around with 3D which proves to be a massive waste of time with most of the darkly lit scenes hardly visible (and there are a LOT of them), I just wish there was an Oscar for best 3D film so filmmakers would actually put effort into making 3D films, I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record but avoid the 3D version of this film at all costs. Before you see ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ consider calling the Guinness Book of World Records and applying for the record of ‘most yawns during a film’, it’s a long movie that doesn’t need to be, the pirates aren’t off to drop a ring off at a volcano, a good 30 minutes could have been cut out of it to avoid some of the more ‘sleepy’ bits.

All the performances are stock standard for the ‘Pirates’ films with Geoffrey Rush the absolute standout, Johnny Depp is good as Captain Jack Sparrow but I feel the character has done his time, Captain Jack Sparrow is great in small doses much like the way he appeared in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl’, he stole every scene, in every ‘Pirates’ film since he has just coasted along and it’s the same here.

‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ doesn’t just jump the shark; it leaps over the entire ocean and tries its best to put the audience to sleep. Since the first ‘Pirates’ film each sequel has worked hard to prove why the pirate genre was dead for so many years and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stanger Tides hammers the nail in coffin…of Davey Jones of course.


The Popcorn Junkie