Film Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

If Carlsberg made movies… they probably would not be anything like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. However, if Night Nurse made movies…

No longer in possession of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow finds himself in a bit of bother in London. When he meets Angelina, an old flame from his past, Jack is tricked aboard the ship of the notorious Blackbeard. The aging pirate needs Jack’s help to find the Fountain of Youth, which is also being pursued by Barbossa…

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a mess of a film that isn’t even laughably enjoyable. With a running time of almost two and a half hours, it is likely to leave some audience members in a comatose state. If the narrative was tighter and some scenes trimmed or altogether removed, Rob Marshall’s film would have been much more entertaining. As it stands, the fourth Pirates movie is incredibly dull.

The film features some fun action sequences, but these grow tired quickly as each set piece attempts to outdo the previous one. There are long periods in the film where the pace is very slack. The endless chases lack momentum as they are way too drawn out.

Whereas Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was a bit strange and difficult to get into, On Stranger Tides has more in common with the first two films. However, this instalment comes across as formulaic, offering very little in terms of innovation. Although Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann were fairly boring main characters, their absence is palpable. Their love story is replicated somewhat by Philip and Syrena; a poor substitute. The romantic narrative between preacher and mermaid is poorly executed. In attempting to fill a gap, it comes across as trite and underdeveloped.

The effects and staging are as good as ever. Clearly a lot of money was put into making the film; it is a shame that the end results to not justify the cost. Sound is also well used in the film. The 3D consists really of swords being pointed outwards, not exactly worth the uplift price.

Johnny Depp delivers his usual schtick as Jack Sparrow. His performance is not the problem though. The character, who was such fun in the first movie, is now as tired and uninspired as the narrative. In an attempt to inject new life into the franchise, a few new characters are introduced. Ian McShane is decent as Blackbeard, while Penelope Cruz is noticeably stagnant as Angelica. Her lack of movement was undoubtedly due to her pregnancy at the time of filming, but it really should not have been this obvious.

Sadly it seems likely that there will be at least another Pirates film, if not more. Given its sub-par quality, On Stranger Tides really should kill the franchise, but it probably won’t.