Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May Contain Spoilers)

Like many people who saw an early version of the film poster teaser for On Stranger Tides (the basic silver Jack Sparrow skull on a black background), I had a mix of contrasting feelings. At first, I was hit with the excitement of “Oh, YES! Another film about Pirates! This is going to be sweet!” And then the shocking memory of the two sequels subsequently crushed that thought and replaced it with “Oh, yeah, that’s right… I hope this one isn’t as shockingly mundane as the last two were…” It was a dubious mix of the two until it was announced that A) It would be in 3D (not initially grabbing me, but at least showing promise) and B) Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley would not be part of the cast, which clearly meant this Pirates instalment was starting over on a fresh slate.

The basic plot of On Stranger Tides is a little bit of a continuation from the last film, now meaning the Pirates franchise is more of a series of on-going films which are basically The Continuing Adventures of Jack Sparrow. On Stranger Tides sees Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) setting out to find the fabled Fountain of Youth, but along the way he encounters Angelica (Penelope Cruz), a mysterious woman and ruthless con artist from his past. Hijacking him and taking him aboard her ship, Jack soon realises he is on the Queen Anne’s Revenge – the ship of Angelica’s father, the dreaded Blackbeard (Ian McShane), who requires Jack to lead them both to the Fountain before anyone else can find it. At the same time Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who is now a member of the King’s Navy, is hot on the heels of Jack Sparrow and seeks revenge on Blackbeard for reasons of his own.

Unlike the last two sequels, On Stranger Tides felt like it was back to being an actual pirate-style adventure film like Curse of the Black Pearl was. Perhaps it’s because On Stranger Tides is more of a separate film from the others, or because it’s a new cast and a new storyline that goes back to focussing on pirate folklore (like Mermaids, or the way they tied in Voodoo dolls and Zombification together which is historically correct and did not go unnoticed by myself!), but On Stranger Tides definitely marked an improvement from the last two.

The few small problems I have about On Stranger Tides are more like echoes of what brought the last two down. The fact there were scenes in the middle that seemed to slow the pace of the film (even though it opened up the story for more exposition and development) like Jack and Barbossa’s daring escape from the Spanish camp meant the film teetered on the edge of dragging a bit, which lost a bit of the magic that made the first one so great. Also, the underlying story between Philip and Syrena the Mermaid was filled with holes – for one thing, how is it they suddenly know so much about each other when we haven’t seen them talk? And what exactly was meant to happen to them at the end when he’s been badly hurt and she drags him into the water? Since they both didn’t come into the story until about half-way through, it felt like they were mostly thrown in to fill the hole left by Will and Elizabeth’s token love story, like it was tacked on as an afterthought and stole focus from the main story.

I’ve also had my own problems with 3D films in the past, and I said to myself “if nothing good happens in 3D in this film, I’m swearing it off”. Luckily, there were two parts of the film which were really cool in 3D – but I won’t tell you what they were! Just let it be known if more films can do 3D like that, it would make them worth seeing.

Penelope Cruz was also surprisingly good in On Stranger Tides, as I was concerned about her ability to do an English speaking role.  But in the 30 second clip after the credits, with her sitting on the beach and finding the Jack Sparrow Voodoo doll, there is a definite hint that there could be a lead into another Pirates film, but also rounded off ambiguously enough to be left as it is (even though we all know they’re likely to keep making more).

Overall, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has all of the good, clean adventure fun that made the first so good, with none of the tripe or fat that dragged down the ensuing sequels. On Stranger Tides gets a solid (pieces of) 8 out of 10 for being an improvement to the series, but still not holding a candle to the first.

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2 Comments

  1. I didn’t realize that the mermaid was the only love part of the movie, although Jack and Angelina had something going on it was not the love that Orlando and Kiera had. I wanted to know what happened as she took him under the water to, What if at the last second you just see a poof of blood in the water!! The movie wasn’t predictable, which is always good. I didn’t see it in 3D so you will have to tell me which bits were in it. I liked the bit at the end, made me laugh. I have no idea if there wlll be another pirates or not. We shall see.

    • Well, apparently they’re already writing a script for 5 and maybe even a 6th movie, but it doesn’t look like they will all tie in too much with each other, as they could just be each as a stand-alone film. I think that would work better, as it would be a different Jack Sparrow adventure each time. The two that followed the first film didnt work because they were too long and too serious, and lost the spark that made the first one a good adventure film as they tried to tackle too much stuff with it. Clearly, Pirates works best when they write it for an audience of ADD riddled kids – that is, keeping in mind that there should be a beginning, middle and end to each of them! I’m suspicious that when the mermaids drag them into the water, they do something to them that turns them into Mermen – because otherwise, how would they keep on living? Its the mirror image of cavemen hitting their women over the head and dragging them back to their cave! haha! The cool 3D bits? They were when Blackbeard was controlling his ship with the sword (that came right out at you!) and when his skeleton hand reaches out of the mini tornado (that came RIGHT out at you!). They were cool. Captain America in 3D is going to be good too!


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