Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Jerry Bruckheimer and the Walt Disney outfit have just opened their 4th release in their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, this time with Rob Marshall at the helm. This one is called On Stranger Tides. While I won’t suggest that Marshall, and Bruckheimer et al be made to walk the plank for unleashing a rusty bucket of a film on us, I can say that as you leave the theater you won’t be saying anything at all like – I can’t wait for the next one.

Yes, I’m sad to report they’ve gone about as far as they can with these buccaneers. Simply – the film is too big, too long, too repetitive, and worst of all – too familiar. It is also structured or built around a ticking clock with the main scene types repeated again and again. Which means that each leer by Johnny Depp’s Sparrow, or each pout by Cruz, or each menacing statement by McShane’s Blackbeard, are not only expected, they arrive with regularity as if on a schedule, and each loses some value the farther into the film we get. Just as we know Depp won’t lose in an early duel, we are certain he won’t perish as he leaps from a window, a boat deck, or even off a cliff

We’ll have Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow being devilishly charming, witty, wily, and almost lewd. Then a chase, an escape, and then a slashing sword-fight or duel. Characters are added in as needed, and the fights get bigger then smaller, then bigger, then smaller and you get the idea.

The three main stars other than Depp, are Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa, Penelope Cruz as Angelica, and Ian McShane as the evil Blackbeard. They’re all quite good in their roles, and the writers have given them plenty of screen time.

The story we watch on-screen centers around the quest and search for the Fountain of Youth. Which is fine. There’s a good number of folks who want to find it – Captain Jack Sparrow and Angelica, Blackbeard and Angelica, Captain Barbossa, who this time around is working for King George of England (spectacularly played by Richard Griffins), and the heads of the Spanish Armada.

As we watch, the loyalties and partnerships seemed to change after every fight, or escape. it’s not so much that it is difficult to follow – instead you seem to get to a point where you simply don’t care anymore. I’m not kidding about that; and you do feel that the film takes forever to end.

As for the clanging of steel swords, we get a ton of that. However, almost all of these fights are at night, or in the bowels of ship or a waterfront drinking establishment where plenty of grog and tankards of ale are consumed. The film is quite dark in the regard. What we don’t get to see even once is a shipboard cannon being fired. In fact there are no ship vs ship sea battles either.

There’s an attack by the mermaids. Yes, an attack. But this too is at night, and from what I could tell, this scene garnered no ooohs and aaahs at all. One mermaid is captured, and a romance is manufactured between her and a sea-going preacher. But this seemed almost besides the point and it didn’t generate any good feelings for the audience. You just couldn’t feel enthusiastic about them.

In fact, that is the overall feeling about the film. It seemed old and been there done that seems quite apt. Earlier I mentioned that the story of the film was the quest for the Fountain of Youth. There is another quest about this film. Bruckheimer and the folks at Disney have targeted our film going money. They want it out of our pockets and into theirs.

I’m sure they will succeed in that regard. Just as I’m sure that a good deal of money went into making this film, and marketing it – people will go to the theaters and see it. But this one will ultimately sink under its own weight and bloat. Yes, it is entertainment, but it will never be called memorable.

3 thoughts on “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

  1. I’m completely convinced by your boredom with this film. Of course, I think I’ve only seen Pirates 1 (I really liked it!), so perhaps it was unlikely I was going to head off to this one. As much as I really like Johnny Depp, this franchise seemed like it was getting old a while ago.

    And then there’s the fact that Kiera Knightley has that alarming jaw/ set of teeth — she always looks as if she might bite you. In a bad way.

  2. Yeah, Orlando and Keira were either not cast or written out. Maybe both. The replacement lovers weren’t the least bit interesting.

    I too loved POTC 1, and hated the last one before this one. I think this one is the last of it’s kind. Depp and his agents will have to sail the seven seas looking for a new franchise. This one is done.

    Where’s Burt Lancaster and his Crimson Pirate when you need him?

    Thanks for the comments.

  3. This movie pales in comparison to the first. It is not as good as the second or third either. It is bad enough that I actually had to stop watching it and take a break. It just seems cheesy to the point of being stupid. There are a few scenes that make it watchable though. The mermaid scene is really cool and reminds me of the quality of the first movie alot.

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