Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Year:
2011
Country:
USA, UK
Genre:
Action, Adventure, Fantasy
IMDB rating:
6.7
Director:
Rob Marshall
Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow
Sam Claflin as Philip
Greg Ellis as Groves
Óscar Jaenada as The Spaniard
Damian O'Hare as Gillette
Anton Lesser as Lord John Carteret
Keith Richards as Captain Teague
Penélope Cruz as Angelica Teach
Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs
Richard Griffiths as King George
Ian McShane as Blackbeard
Roger Allam as Prime Minister Henry Pelham
Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa
Storyline: Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (Cruz), and he's not sure if it's love -- or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.
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Reviews
Frustratingly Entertaining
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is one of my favorite television shows, even though its gone a bit downhill lately. Is it the cast? No, because they are mostly intact. What is actually happening is that each of the main characters, known for their superb chemistry amongst each other, are suddenly spending less screen time with each other and more time to themselves. This story actually has a point. On Stranger Tides suffers the same fate: fantastic cast that don't spend as much time with each other as we hope. Add some pointless plot lines, a calmer first-third of the flick, and you have yourself the fourth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean.

That being said, its still quite entertaining. On Stranger Tides follows a variety of people searching for the fabled Fountain of Youth. Unfortunately for us, its not just Jack Sparrow. We have Blackbeard, the Spanish, the British (led by Barbossa), Angelica, and more doing the same thing. Subplots pertaining to this quest include Jack's past with Angelica, Barbossa's questionable change in character, some random guy falling for some random girl (I am serious, this part was totally pointless), and the pointless Spanish people that flock in and out of the movie.

This is by far the weakest part of the movie, the script. For some odd reason, they borrowed far too much from the novel (whose pacing and themes far differ that of the Pirates brand) and forgot that sometimes simplicity is best---which is what made Curse of the Black Pearl such a great film. It was the easiest to follow, and On Stranger Tides didn't learn from the previous two installments. To add to that, the script utterly separated everyone, even those with the best on-screen chemistry. Barbossa was barely with Jack Sparrow, Sparrow was rarely with his ex-lover, and worst of all reliable Gibbs spent minimal time with Sparrow. When they are together, the humor, the banter, tension, and the charm works well. When they aren't, well, the movie drags a bit.

Thank goodness the cast is still on their game. Johnny Depp once again breathes life into the pirate movie with his smart, unpredictable, and hilarious portrayal of Jack Sparrow. Despite what the reviews say, Jack Sparrow's shtick isn't getting old as he is still a delight to watch. Geoffrey Rush once again shines as Jack's best rival Barbossa, as his quiet intentions resemble that of Sparrow in earlier films. Penelope Cruz adds a layer of sexuality that we definitely did not have with the other Pirates of the Caribbeans--it's just a shame she didn't have much time with Sparrow. Director Rob Marshall was able to shell out good performances from everyone in the cast, but he definitely wasn't the man for this job.

Almost all the chase scenes or action sequences were done with very low-lighting and poor camera angles. With the exception of the mesmerizing and chilling mermaid sequence and the opening chase, all the action moments were missing that special touch. While the bizarreness of Gore Verbinski will not be totally missed (although his style worked perfectly in Rango), his ability to crank out excellent stuntwork and fights was sorely missing here. At least we got to see plenty of it, from the opening chase to the final dramatic (and short) showdown. Say whatever you want, but there has yet to be anything that can top the infamous three-way sword fight/old mill showdown from Dead Man's Chest.

Bottom Line: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a mix of frustration and fun. There was plenty of potential that wasn't met because of questionable plot lines, pointless moments, lack of chemistry (once again: writer's fault. Good going Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio), and uneven direction. All that banter aside, Pirates is also plenty fun with several delightful moments, funny lines, and much more action than the last Pirates flick. Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz and company keep the movie afloat, and prevent it from being a pure bore. But I think the franchise works better when Verbinski is behind the camera. On Stranger Tides is decent summer entertainment, but doesn't have the inescapable magic and charm of the first two.
2011-05-20
What can I say......
Will keep this brief as just about everyone jumps in for a complete film summary. So, the first film, brilliant, the second, OK it is a sequel and as such very watchable, the third should have been the last, they made a good trilogy....

First things, only two scenes worthy of recognition, the 'escape from the king' and the 'mermaid' scenes, reminiscent of the earlier films, great fun. The rest, limp wristed, failing to deliver on many levels and to add an extra dimension of failure about 80% of the film seems to be filmed in the dark. So all that fab scenery and great costume and effects were by and large wasted.

So not good, not memorable and very very lacklustre.... The performances from Depp, Cruz, McShane and Mr Rush, wasted by a second rate script and weak story, pity as they are without doubt talented. Fingers crossed they do not stretch the elastic on this one, please no more....
2011-12-11
Our favorite pirate is back!
Firstly, this review does not contain any spoilers whatsoever so read on. I had the privilege to watch this in the El Capitan theater advanced screening. Johnny Depp, the goofy pirate that we have grown to love, returns to his iconic role of Captain Jack Sparrow in an action-packed tale of truth, betrayal, youth and demise.

The plot is when Jack crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz), he's not sure if it's love—or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.

By being a fan this franchise, I can happily confirm that YES, it is as good as the first one! Be ready for an adventure and half! Brings everything from the classic bizarre comedy to the nail biting action scenes.

The marketing for the movie have been intelligently subliminal like some other great film releases, like Avatar, or Blair Witch (the real vs fake) and the recent awesome film production The Artifice (the-artifice.com) and so on.

This is not a film to miss, does not matter if you are a die hard fan of Pirates, or new to the series! I might be in trouble for writing a review of the movie this early, so please click Yes on the "is this review useful" as a thank you ;)
2011-05-09
Pirates Lite
With "On Stranger Tides," the Pirates franchise gets to concentrate more on the character of Capt. Jack Sparrow. Johnny Depp really has this character down pat, and obviously has fun with it. Old characters are still there, such as Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Gibbs and Jack's father, who are as we know them. But we also get to meet a woman from his past in the person of Angelica, who may or may not be Blackbeard's daughter. Honestly, I thought Penelope Cruz could not possibly be convincing as a pirate, but I was glad to be wrong. She could swashbuckle with the rest of them pirates.

While the relationship between Sparrow and Angelica was more on the comedy level, a new romantic pair was also introduced in the characters of the compassionate missionary Philip (Sam Claflin) and the mysterious Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey). While I read a lot of criticism about how useless this angle was to the film, I actually felt the scenes of these new characters were well-executed by new director Rob Marshall. I do not think they bog the storyline down at all.

"On Stranger Tides" features a race to the Fountain of Youth which was a great concept. We watched in 3D and I was glad to see that these were not mere post-production effects, and they lasted the whole movie. The 3D was certainly not a rip-off in this one! Those fight and chase scenes in the palace of the mad King George were amazingly shot. The special effects of the pirates encounter with mermaids contribute well to the eerie and menace of those scenes.

This was the first Pirates movie that my two boys watched with me. After watching, I felt that indeed this film was the best way to introduce the Pirates to kids. It is shorter, lighter and faster-paced than the first three more "serious" films, which are more adult in orientation. This is not to mean that "Tides" is a lesser film quality though. I would think it could launch a trilogy of its own for its new fans.
2011-05-24
Probably better than it should have been
In movies, as in marriage, the fourth go-around can get a little tricky. As the fourth round approaches there's an apprehension of what has come before and what is new that is left to be discovered. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the third sequel in Disney's highly-successful series, is not a movie that I went into with much anticipation. Yet, as I always do, I allowed myself to be open minded (you never know when a movie will surprise you) and I found the movie quite enjoyable.

My apprehension comes from the experience of the previous films, which I complained were too long and so overwritten as to become convoluted. That's not good for what should be a simple pirate movie. Having left behind many of the familiar characters (Orlando Bloom, Kiera Knightly and Jonathan Price are absent this time), the movie is free to find new characters and a new arena to play in. With that, this is a kind of trimmed down POTC movie.

The movie finds the ever-plucky sea-going rascal Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) once again in trouble with the King's court and about to be executed. That is, until one of his crew produces a map to the fabled Fountain of Youth, rumored to have been found 200 years before by the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León. Jack makes a spectacular escape and the race is on race to find the fountain, which is headed off first by the Spanish fleet and then by the British fleet. Trailing them are Jack and his nemesis Captain Barbossa (Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush), who is a privateer under the orders of King George II (Richard Griffiths). Then there is Angelica (Oscar winner Penelope Cruz), who is first mate on the ship captained by Blackbeard (Ian McShane) - whose beard is actually gray, but never mind.

The plot to get to the fountain of youth is probably more complicated than it needs to be. Getting to the fountain is easy enough, but then we learn that it is not a simple matter of taking a dip and becoming younger, no. First, Jack learns, you must first get two goblets belonging to Ponce de León, then you have to mix it with the tears of a mermaid, then (I think I have this right), one person has to drink from one cup to become younger and then another person has to drink from the other and they will die. Something along those lines. As I said, it is more complicated than it needs to be.

The plot, as in the previous installments, is somewhat superfluous. There really isn't a need to get to the fountain of youth. There probably wasn't any need for mermaids that can suck your blood, nor, all that stuff about voodoo and shrinking massive ships until you can fit them into bottles. Yet, what I have learned about this series is that the plot really doesn't matter. These films are constructed more as a series of set pieces rather than a narrative plot. I appreciated the mermaids but, this being a Disney film, the all-out boob-fest that should have ensued sadly never materializes.

What keeps this series popular is quality control. Johnny Depp maintains the same swagger and slurry charm that he had in the previous films. He keeps from taking the film too seriously but avoids the temptation to make fun of the character. The first film got him his first Oscar nomination, and justifiably so. Eight years, and three sequels later, Depp maintains the fun spirit of the character and doesn't allow it to grow routine. Neither does Geoffrey Rush, in his third go-around as Captain Barbossa, which he plays with an evil wink and a pirate accent that he practically chews on. Penelope Cruz gives a nice performance here and proves - to me at least - that she should have been the female protagonist of the series all along instead of Kiera Knightly. Yet, I was surprisingly underwhelmed by Ian McShane's performance as Blackbeard. McShane is a wonderful actor but somehow Blackbeard seems subdued. He is pure evil, right down to the buckles on his boots but the character doesn't leap out with the lip-smacking vileness that I had hoped. The movie pins the character down as if they are introducing him to be in a future movie.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" is probably the best of the series since the first one. That is thanks to a leaner script and, mercifully, a shorter running time (it is actually an hour shorter than the last one). I could complain about it all day long, but I would rather confess that I was more entertained by this film than I was by the previous two.

Disney has found a gold mine with this series. Convoluted as these movies are, they do have an audience and I am glad to see anything that gets movie fans excited. Yet, there is a feeling that this series may be wrapping up. Johnny Depp has said that he is growing tired of playing Jack Sparrow (although it does not come out in his performance) and that may bring about an end to this "Pirates" series. With that, I started thinking that maybe Disney would do well to move on to something else, maybe Treasure Island, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Moby Dick. Maybe the same fun-loving spirit that made this series so popular could be given to those classics as well.
2011-05-21
Meh
Now don't get me wrong, the latest film Disney churned out did have its moments. It tried hard to downplay the 'epicness' of the story and provide us with a simpler and more straight forward adventure, much like the original, and does it pretty well. However, this instalment doesn't leave you with that same feeling you get when watching the others – you don't really get the sense that you've just watched a Pirates of the Caribbean film. All the best elements from the first three films were hardly in use here. Heck, Blackbeard is one of the most feared real pirates there were, and he was so underused. The returning characters don't act same as you'd expect them to (Barbossa, really?) and I especially didn't like the fact that the main cast hardly share any screen time together, due to a limiting script. There were a couple of stand-out moments, nothing memorable though – the journey didn't really go anywhere, even forgetting the anti-climatic ending. Verbinski 'got' the POTC films, and this one just seemed to be lacking that something special. It was OK, but that was just its problem – it was OK.
2015-10-05
Wow, almost as bad as The Happening
Just be entertaining. But, you couldn't even do that could you Pirates4. Oh well, you'll be too busy counting your money to care anyway, wont you. Nice job marketing department.

I went into this with the idea that they were going to strip it down a bit, compared to the last two, and maybe reel in the silliness a bit. It looked like they did try to do that, but they forgot to insert anything to take the silliness's place.

The acting, except for Stephen Graham (he was good so his role functioned well), was RIDICULOUSLY bad. Johnny Depp was as idiotic, if not more, in his attempt to portray a character than ever. And his character was as inconsistent throughout the movie as ever. There is no definition of character in Jack Sparrow. It's just a matter of catering to the audience scene by scene. Jack Sparrow isn't a multifaceted man (manly, funny, romantic, etc.) he is just a plot device used by over-payed scared writers to illicit whatever response from the audience that their research has proved will entire people to continue paying for this product.

Penelope Cruz's character, was never anything more than just Penelope Cruz reading cue cards looking hot trying to exude sex appeal to entire male viewers. Neither she nor Depp ever looked like they felt what they were saying or ever actually became their character.

Ian McShane was also just going through motions.

Stephen Graham though somehow managed to understand his character and he disappeared into it, adding something to it. Kudos to him. He must have ignored the director and just went on instinct.

I liked Thor a lot because it entertained me. Pirates4 didn't. It was predictable and not funny. Instead of being a convincing charade it was a transparent one.

The audience I was with wasn't laughing much either. This movie is a waste of time and I'm betting the great reviews it's gotten on IMDb are paid for written by plants.

Hopefully it's another 2 years at least before the Pirates of the Caribbean machine begins casting it's misleading spell over the world with it's slick, sophisticated, tricky, deceptive advertising methods that lead people to believe the product is more than it is. The marketing for THIS piece of junk was great at concealing just how empty and pointless this film is.

Every aspect of this movie, every scene of it is designed only to cater to the audience. No vision other than cashing in.
2011-05-22
Aggressively Mediocre
I enjoyed the first Pirates film, yawned through the second, and never saw the third. When this one came to the bargain cinema, the power was out and I was looking for something to occupy the time before the power company did their thing.

It was not two-plus hours well spent, but it was adequate to pass the time. There was some action to distract, a few laughs here and there, and some passable special effects, though they were sparing this run-through.

My main problem with it was that despite getting rid of the incredibly annoying characters of Will and Lizzy from the first three films, as well as most of the rest of the recurring cast, they still found a way to avoid Jack as much as possible. It wasn't really about him any more than the other films. The promises to explore his past were completely untrue, and we got little more than a few jokes about how he knew Angelica. He was always a treat when he was on-screen, but so much of the film centred around less interesting characters that it was at times off-putting.

Jack also seemed not to move the plot as he had in the previous films. In the first, he was always the driving impetus for movement. In this one, he seems to be swept up in everything else happening and never once actually drives anything. Instead of being a capable captain whose apparent buffoonery is often to get his enemies off-guard, he really does seem like just a very lucky idiot here, which isn't really fair to the character built through three films already.

Geoffrey Rush's Barbossa was well-acted, if frustrating, and Ian McShane's Blackbeard was full of personality and gravitas, if completely unsympathetic. Unfortunately Penelope Cruz, despite being a capable actress, has little to work with as Angelica, and she failed to be anything but irritating until her very last scene. Why couldn't we have had that interplay the whole film? Sam Claflin somehow manages to be more annoying than Orlando Bloom as the inane missionary Philip, but he at least fulfills his role as eye candy, inasmuch as he can. Astrid Berges-Frisbey is serviceable as the mermaid Syrena, but makes little impact. The rest of the cast is fine but not prominent.

The story is plodding and meandering, which is not surprising since it had nine screenwriters. It never seems to know what it's doing, and yet it manages to be rather unexciting. When the LEGO game released in tandem is more thrilling than your film, you know there's an issue.

The theme of redemption and faith, overwhelmed by clumsy religious leanings, was off-putting and interfered with most of the characters involved being in any way sympathetic or interesting. The two who seemed to embody the extremes of that faith -- Philip and the Spanish captain -- both came off as completely awful, with the first an ineffectual clod you wanted them to be rid of and the latter nothing more than an ignorant, disrespectful zealot. The Spanish also tended to be nothing but a deus ex machina, who never made any impact on the story and only did anything when the script needed a convoluted climax. It was tremendously unfulfilling that they received no consequences for any of their actions at all.

At least Jack's past with Angelica poked merciless fun at the seeming necessity for 'romance' in these films, even the pastiche between Philip and Syrena. Perhaps in the next film, they will dispense with the weak attempts at romance and concentrate on action and adventure, which is what people go to these films to see.

Overall, it was a film that was okay for wasting time, but nothing special. Not better than the first, although at least it didn't end like the second, and I hear it was far better than the third. It was just unfortunately rather dull and unexceptional, which is a shame since it is supposed to relaunch the series.
2011-08-09
The series has just got worse and worse!
Just a short review, I watched this film for the first time last week and was thoroughly disappointed, (not that I expected much), the characters were weak and many of the action scenes are straight out of the other three films. Jack Sparrow's character, although amusing at times, has by now been well and truly worn out and he interacts poorly with a host of other new characters that have been thrown into the mix, (amongst some old ones).

The story is also poor and in no way links in with any of the other movies so by the end of the film I was both bored and confused. I wouldn't recommend it to any who haven't seen the previous films although I suppose it's worth seeing for a laugh... or two.
2012-01-05
Cash Cow Cinema
The "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise takes the oddball, zany adventures of early Hollywood pirate movies ("The Black Pirate", "Captain Blood", "The Buccaneer", "The Sea Hawk", "The Black Swan", "Captain Kidd", "Hornblower", "Blackbeard", "The Crimson Pirate", "Fairwind to Java") and spins them off into even wackier territory. Indeed, much of the joys of the first three films were in watching the various tales and characters veer off into increasingly mad, busy and nonsensical avenues. Unfortunately this excess quickly got out of hand, "action sequences" prolonged to boredom inducing lengths, dull subplots piled upon dull subplots. Eventually the franchise struggled to modulate its madness and started to take itself too seriously.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides", the fourth film in the franchise, has a shorter running time than its siblings. It's more light-footed, moves better and keeps the level of subplots and characters somewhat down, though its best madcap moments (mermaid attacks, Johnny Depp swinging from coconut trees, giant ships stuck in tiny bottles) never match the wacky highs, comedic power poses and ridiculous gags of the previous movies.

All actors love acting in pirate movies – it gives them a chance to chew scenery and munch on deliciously ridiculous dialogue – and so most of the cast is a delight to watch. The dull, straight faced Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are jettisoned for this instalment, leaving more room for tongue-in-cheek grandstanding and juicy dialogue chewing. The dialogue here is itself really good, witty and injected with a kind of deliberate theatricality ("Death is upon us as we sail for the Fountain of Youth!", "I support the missionary's position!").

The plot is hokum, but the actual construction of the script is somewhat interesting. It revolves around a series of romances, each epitomising a different type of romantic love (love for one's self, unconditional love, selfish love, love for a father, love for one one cannot love, a love-hate romance etc). Director Rob Marshall is too much of a hack to make anything of this. The production belongs to its actors, set-designers and writers. Marshall's too prim and proper to properly marshal their madness.

7.9/10 – This is apparently the eight most profitable film ever made. Worth one viewing.
2011-08-29
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