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Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

May 20, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – A Walt Disney Pictures’ Release

Release Date: May 20th, 2011

Rated PG for frightening scenes and violence

Running time: 137 minutes

Rob Marshall (dir.)

Ted Elliott (screenplay)

Terry Rossio (screenplay)

Hans Zimmer (music)

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow

Penélope Cruz as Angelica

Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa

Ian McShane as Blackbeard

Kevin McNally as Gibbs

Sam Claflin as Philip

Astrid Berges-Frisbey as Syrena

Stephen Graham as Scrum

Keith Richards as Captain Teague

Richard Griffiths as King George

©Walt Disney Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Angelica (Penelope Cruz), Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Blackbeard (Ian McShane) in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Our reviews below:


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s fourth high seas adventure in the lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, On Stranger Tides.  Directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago), the film plays outside of the preexisting trilogy and will surely delight fans of the series who see it in good old-fashioned 2D.  Although it will feel like nothing more than the cinematic equivalent of fast food for more serious moviegoers, it offers a fun summer diversion for older kids and adults.

The iconic Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) has now set sail on a mission to find the fabled Fountain of Youth.  He is joined on his journey by fellow pirate Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and aided in his search by ex-lover Angelica (Penélope Cruz) and a mysterious old pirate who goes by the name of Blackbeard (Ian McShane).  As expected, their search for eternal youth is not an easy one, with sinister mermaids threatening the success of their journey.

The series started in 2003 with The Curse of the Black Pearl, which remains the best of the four films.  After the infamous central pirate swaggered his way into becoming an icon, it was followed by Dead Man’s Chest in 2006 which was a fun adventure with some standout action scenes, but ultimately overlong with confusing plotlines.  2007’s At World’s End was surprisingly entertaining, despite the convoluted and downright bizarre elements of the needlessly long film.

On Stranger Tides is the shortest in the series at 137-minutes, yet still feels too long by a good twenty.  But the dialogue-driven scenes that only serve to move a sometimes silly storyline forward are not what audiences are paying to see.  Like in the previous franchise entries, the swashbuckling scenes and clever escape sequences never fail to entertain.  An escape from court and a final battle will be particular high points for action fans.  On the acting side of things, Cruz adds a welcome dose of appealing sexiness to the film and Depp delivers another delightfully flamboyant performance.

But there is one glaring problem with On Stranger Tides that keeps me from offering an entirely positive review.  Despite a few scenes that effectively shove a sword into our faces, the 3D here does nothing but dim an already dark image.  If you see the film in theatres, save yourself the eyestrain that will inevitably come with the inflated three dollar premium and enjoy the performance of Johnny Depp as it was meant to be seen.


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review by Erin V.  

*** (out of 4)

In this newest installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, On Stranger Tides continues the story of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) on an all new adventure – to find the Fountain of Youth.  Using a map he stole in the previous installment, he is racing to find the fountain before his old rival Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) – who has convinced the British navy to let him privateer one of their ships – with both of them trying to outwit a Spanish fleet also after the location of the fountain.

But Jack’s plans are altered when he is captured by his old flame/foe Angelica (Penélope Cruz) who brings him aboard Blackbeard’s haunted ship the Queen Anne’s Revenge – which is also incidentally after the fountain.  The trip itself involves many escapes and escapades, including the capture of a mermaid for her tears, the locating of two silver chalices to be used at the fountain, as well as everyone ultimately trying to outwit each other and figure out where their current allegiances lie.  One more thing – Jack is desperately trying to locate and re-captain his beloved Black Pearl.

The one thing I didn’t find worth it is the 3D aspect.  The others didn’t have it and on paper it might seem like a fun idea for a Pirates film, but ultimately with the many shadowy scenes, it just makes the picture far too dark to be enjoyed properly.  It’s not worth paying the surcharge for a couple of swords and a hat being thrown at the screen.

On the positive side of things, the actors here are all fun to watch as always, in particular, the new relationship/interactions between Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz.  While Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) in the previous installments was more like a female Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) – neither of whom are in this film – Penélope Cruz’s Angelica is an all out female Jack Sparrow in her antics.  In some ways they’re a perfect match – and destined to drive each other crazy because of this.

I’m honestly not sure which Pirates film I like best – this one is not on the very top of my list – but they are all enjoyable in their own way.  In some aspects, this one is the most linear, and it’s also the shortest.  Providing entertaining characters both old and new, as well as more convoluted Jack Sparrow escape scenes, there is no doubt that On Stranger Tides will be enjoyed as a fun summer action-blockbuster – especially by its target audience of 12-17 year olds.


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow, the delightfully eccentric pirate.  This time around, Jack is looking for the Fountain of Youth, somewhere near Ponce de Leon.  On the journey, Sparrow is back together with Angelica (Penélope Cruz), an old lover of his as well as the daughter of the notorious Blackbeard (Ian McShane).  Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is also back, in a race against Sparrow to find the Fountain before the Spanish do.

In order for the Fountain’s magic to work, two chalices and a mermaid’s tear is needed.  The mermaids are beautiful and a bit sharklike, but with fangs and a predatory nature.  One of the mermaids (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) is kind and gentle, falling for a missionary (Sam Claflin) who promotes a gentler way of being.  I liked some of the more religious questions that were raised in these scenes.

I thoroughly enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Everything about it, the music, acting and fantasy adventure are just pure fun.  The violence doesn’t exceed that of the previous films and is virtually bloodless.  Anyone 10 and up can watch it and kids won’t be confused by any convoluted plotlines.  This is pretty much a stand alone adventure, so anybody who has missed the previous films won’t be confused.  Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a fun summer movie to see with the family.


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Jack Sparrow, that’s Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), is once again matching wits with the British Army and managing yet another daring escape.  But the Brits are not the only foes Jack has to face this time around.  Fellow pirate Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is back and the Spanish army is involved.  Nasty pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his lovely daughter, Jack’s former lover Angelica (Penélope Cruz), also want a piece of the action.  Their common goal is to be the first to find the elusive fountain of youth.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – number 4 in the franchise – provides the right amount of manic pirate fun that we’ve come to expect from Johnny Depp’s unique take on the infamous Jack Sparrow, and there’s lots of comic relief amidst the expected sword fights and battles at sea.  New to the movie is a romantic interest for Jack in Angelica.  She’s as much a pirate as he is, with Penélope Cruz providing just the right amount of sizzle and spunk to the character.

Also new here are the beautiful young mermaids who tempt the pirates, seduce them and attack with the ferociousness of a cross between a vampire and a shark.  These scenes will be a little scary for younger viewers, however the mermaids are necessary as their tears are needed along with two special chalices to unlock the powers of the fountain of youth.  It takes one special mermaid, Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and Blackbeard’s prisoner, a young missionary named Philip (Sam Claflin) to set things into motion and unlock the powers.

There’s nothing especially original about On Stranger Tides, however it does have the same level of fun and action that we’ve come to expect from the Pirates movies.  The cast is strong.  Johnny Depp is always a delight and Geoffrey Rush proves yet again that he is a versatile and amusing character actor.

If you are looking for some swashbuckling summer fun, then Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a good choice.  Just don’t waste your money paying the extra surcharge for the 3D.  It adds nothing to the movie and serves only to dim the picture.  Use the extra money to buy more popcorn and enjoy the fun in regular 2D.


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review by Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the fourth in the Pirates series, still produced for Disney by Jerry Bruckheimer but now directed by Rob Marshall. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) escapes from London to seek the fountain of youth but is captured by the feared pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter Angelica (Penélope Cruz) who has a history with Jack. With his crew kept in line by zombies, Blackbeard forces Jack and his compass to guide his ship to the fountain, with the Black Pearl under Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and the Spanish fleet also after the same quarry. The quest is complicated by the need to first sail to Shipwreck Bay to get two chalices from Ponce de León’s ship and to capture a mermaid for her tears to be added to one of the chalices filled with fountain water. Whoever drinks from the chalice with the tear will take all the remaining years of life from the person drinking from the other chalice.

Pirates 4 retains the good clean fun of the franchise with flashes of wit and impressive swashbuckling action. Moreover, it can be enjoyed by people who missed any of the previous films, since the story goes off in new directions. Cruz and McShane are welcome additions, with amusing cameos by Richard Griffiths as the king, Judi Dench, and Keith Richards reprising his role as the senior Sparrow. It should appeal mainly to a younger audience, though like the other films I found it rather long and with all the alliances and betrayals along the way somewhat hard to follow at times.


Consensus: Although the 3D here is entirely needless and the running time somewhat long, another excellent performance from Johnny Depp as the iconic Captain Jack Sparrow makes Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides a fun summer blockbuster for older kids and adults.   *** (Out of 4)

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