Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

3 Jun

Title: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Rob Marshall
Writers: Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, based on a story by themselves, based on the characters by themselves, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert, and inspired by the novel by Tim Powers
Starring: 
Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally, Sam Claflin, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Greg Ellis, Damian O’Hare, Gemma Ward, Richard Griffiths, Keith Richards, Judi Dench
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images, sensuality and innuendo
Runtime: 
136 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 
33%

Look, say what you may about these films, but they are really no-brainers for Disney and no one can blame them for making them. I mean seriously, yes, the first one, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, was the only genuinely good one, and it was superb and it got Johnny Depp a well-deserved Oscar nomination. But these are all about the money, the first three films combined have made an astounding $2.7 million, and this one has been in release only for 14 days and has already made a whopping $645 million, which is pretty much what the first one made in its entire run. What I mean by this is that this franchise is alive and well, and so long as Mr. Depp is there to lead it to box office gold audience will come along with him. And who can blame them? Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the millenium’s definitive film characters.

Which is not to say I fell head over heels with this one, since it’s probably the worst film of the franchise yet, or at the most right up there with the third one, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, in the final spot. But I will say one thing that I really appreciated about this fourth installment, and that is the shorter running time. I mean, yes, this one still clocks in at about two hours and fifteen minutes, which is pretty long, but it’s the shortest one yet and considering that last one came in at about two hours fifty minutes, it’s a nicely trimmed film in comparison. Which is not to say that the shorter running time makes this a much more cohesive film because it doesn’t, the plot is still kind of all over the place and there are just too many action scenes that don’t add anything to it, its just overlong, stuffed to the teeth, and had twenty minutes been taken away from it I doubt anyone would’ve been left complaining.

Because it really is over stuffed. There’s the fountain of youth, there are Spanish conquistadores, British fleets, hell, there even are mermaids. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides should really be the last one of these for a good while, as charming as Johnny Depp may be as Captain Jack Sparrow I think he should consider not donning the suit again, even though considering the bucketload of money Disney is making with this one I’m sure he’ll have millions of reasons to do it. Maybe part of the reason why I didn’t love this one was the absence of Keira Knightley, who other than Mr. Depp was my favorite part of the franchise and who I love in everything she does, but who was smart enough to opt out of this one. The female quota in this one was filled in instead with Penélope Cruz, who plays Angelica, Jack’s old love.

We get some pretty cool scenes at the beginning of the film that I definitely enjoyed. But after that, everything becomes monotonous, not un a dull sort of way, but in a very noisy one, because we get action scene after action scene, and it really gets old fast. I mean, there obviously will be tons of them because this is Pirates of the Caribbean and Jerry Bruckheimer is still producing and they have 136 minutes to fill in, but the action scenes are just not as well done as they should have probably been, I mean, they look all right but they don’t look real, relying too much on tedious editing instead of getting people to do actual stunts. Yes, they may get more adrenaline-filled shots that look insane that way, but if they don’t feel real you miss the excitement of actually feeling as though you’re seeing somebody do that, and that’s the best part about sequences like the ones this one tries to accomplish.

As for the actual plot you’ll be hearing about in this one, it basically is all about that fountain of youth, with Jack and Angelica trying to find it while on a ship ran by zombies under the command of Blackbeard, played by Ian McShane. Geoffrey Rush is the other main cast member of the original films that returns here, playing Captain Barbossa again, this time under the employ of the good guys, namely the British monarchy of King George who has paid him to find the fountain of youth first so that he can drink from it. And then there are also Spanish boats who are also in on the running. And yes, mermaids are here too. See? Overstuffed.

But, look, no matter what I or any of the infinitely more qualified film critics on the interwebs tell you, this will make a lot of money and everyone will watch it and many will love it. And, really, why not? It’s not like you get anything less than what you expected. I mean, sure, quality-wise this is probably the worst film in the franchise, but not by much and it’s not as though anyone was expecting anything better, you were just expecting a long film full of expensive-looking set pieces and Johnny Depp doing his masterful Keith Richards impersonation, and that’s precisely what you got. So for that, I guess I’ll say you might as well give Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stanger Tides a go. And I didn’t forget to mention Orlando Bloom’s absence from this film, it’s just that you don’t really notice he’s gone, that’s how necessary the guy was for the other three films.

Grade: C+

 

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