Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
After waiting four years for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides to be released, I had mixed feelings going into it. In my mind, the second and third movies were significantly weaker and less enjoyable than the first film. The writing doesn’t seem as effective as it was in The Curse of the Black Pearl, but I think that On Stranger Tides still tells an entertaining story. I figured this fourth entry into the hugely popular franchise would be either amazing or a complete flop. Somehow it split the difference.
With the storyline being fraught with mermaids, zombies, and the Fountain of Youth, there is an obvious reliance on the mythical references to force the plot along. The mermaids were actually kind of interesting and well-designed, but their presence in the plot seemed a bit extreme. The weird subplot involving a mermaid and a male member of Sparrow’s entourage is both interesting and annoying – there’s often way too much focus here than the central part of the story. The purpose of the zombies as members of Blackbeard’s crew was never explained, and I’m still wondering how and why Blackbeard creates zombies that apparently don’t feel the need to eat brains. At the heart of the story is The Fountain of Youth, and every character wants to get there first for their own personal gains.
Without Orlando Bloom or Keira Knightley, I wasn’t sure how well Johnny Depp would do flying solo, but he actually wasn’t terrible. I think Jack Sparrow is a stronger character in smaller doses; however, he does carry On Stranger Tides. It helps to have Oscar nominee Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa for Jack Sparrow to banter with. Depp and Rush have the typical amusing dialogue exchange I’m used to from the previous films, but here they seem to have a slightly more amicable relationship. Their pairing definitely helps to break up the monotony of the storyline since so much has to be explained for the story to actually make any semblance of sense. The introduction of Penélope Cruz as Angelica, a past love of Sparrow’s, wasn’t terrible; she’s about on par with Keira Knightley as far as her character’s usefulness to the franchise. Cruz is meant to share a level of romantic chemistry with Depp’s Sparrow, but it appeared more like fireworks than anything else. I don’t hate Cruz in On Stranger Tides, but she’s definitely not my favorite part either.
The use of 3-D is beautiful and definitely adds to the experience, but it isn’t essential. Disney manages to avoid the pitfalls of overusing the third dimension by keeping it simple and clean. Hans Zimmer’s work on the score is beautiful and maintains the traditional Pirates of the Caribbean theme while still adding some Spanish flair to help distinguish its place in this film. On Stranger Tides is no joke; it’s super long, so prepare accordingly.