Pirates of the Carribean – On Stranger Tides Review

“Jack Sparrow and Barbossa embark on a quest to find the elusive fountain of youth, only to discover that Blackbeard and his daughter are after it too.”

It was really odd walking out of this movie. When the friends that I’d seen the movie with asked me for my opinion, I wasn’t quite sure what to say.

‘It was missing something,’ was all that I could come up with at the time.

But that really sums up the whole movie. The elements were all there to make a fun adventure story like the first movie, but they didn’t end up coming together. After thinking about it for a while, I realised that one of the major problems was having Captain Jack Sparrow as the main character of the movie. I originally thought that I’d enjoy this movie much more than the previous two with the departure of both Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, but the absence of any characters to play the straight man to Depp’s crazy pirate really hurt the movie. It’s a sad day when you are saying ‘What this movie really needed was Orlando Bloom.’

The effects were fairly impressive (apart from one glaring scene with Capt. Jack swinging on a rope from a coconut tree), but that’s nothing new for this franchise. The shiny mermaid vampire effects kind of pale in comparison to the zombie shenanigans we’ve already seen.

Hans Zimmer’s score was as enjoyable as ever, but even the best score gets annoying when it’s blasted in your ears every few seconds. The sound design seemed to be all over the place through the whole movie. One moment you’re struggling to hear Ian McShane’s dialogue, the next you’re covering your ears as yet another swordfight erupts to the tune of ‘He’s a Pirate’.

The pacing suffered from the same problem. Unlike the previous movies, the story of On Stranger Tides seemed to take most of its inspiration from a rollercoaster (although the credits tell us it was ‘Suggested by’ a novel. Whatever that means). Whenever things slowed down a bit, we were thrown into an action scene. This isn’t an uncommon technique to keep things interesting, but in the case of this movie it really felt like the writers were just ticking a box with each action scene. Many of them served no purpose at all. Actually, a lot of the characters also seemed to serve no purpose. Ian McShane was completely wasted as Blackbeard, and Barbossa seemed to be shoved into the story just to have one more character from the original trilogy. There was also a baffling sub-plot involving a missionary that felt like it had been ripped out of another movie, and the Spanish (supposedly the main rivals for the Fountain of Youth) are completely forgotten about for most of the movie until it comes time for them to make a dramatic, but pointless entrance at the end.

The magic has really gone out of this franchise. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the second and third movies, they were still fairly enjoyable, but despite having the elements there to make something fun, this just turned out as over 2 hours of cash-in.

What I liked – The performances of Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane saved this movie from being a complete disaster.

What I didn’t like – Pretty much everything else.

Rating – 2 out of 5 (Disappointing)

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