• Guy Jeffries

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review


Director: Rob Marshall

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Claflin, Kevin McNally, Keith Richards, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Stephen Graham, Richard Griffiths, Judi Dench, Christopher Fairbank.

So, is this set directly after the happenings of the World's End or are we missing a few years? Either way, it again doesn't make much sense by introducing yet another pirate, this one being quite historic, that being Ian McShane's Blackbeard. Who's probably the best character in this, even next to Capt. Jack. It's just why haven't we seen or heard of him before. I thought the Black Pearl was the most feared ship in the Caribbean, to then be trumped by Davy's Jones' Flying Dutchman to now, being bested by Blackbeard and his Queen Anne's Revenge.

It has a dumbed down story of pirates racing each other to get to the fabled fountain of youth. But of course, in true pirate fashion, with every gift the ocean bestows there comes a hefty price and conditions that need to be met. One condition being, requiring a tear of a Mermaid. Easier said than done as these mermaids aren't the one relating to anything like Ariel; and this sets the premise of the film.

We might have to start calling Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Jackie Chan. Whilst some of the sequences were good, they don't have the scope and finesse of the previous films, being more of a tease of what should have been. The action is either poorly captured or poorly edited, either way, it looks weak. It's most noticeable with the sword fight when Angelica meets Capt. Jack for the first time in the London tavern. That scene just felt like a cheap copy of Will Turner's and Capt. Jack's first clash in the blacksmith. I'm not sure if replacing Cruz for Knightley was a great idea, but I can imagine Lizzie is probably busy being a single mother whilst Will is doing whatever the Captain of the Flying Dutchman does. Like Knightley, Cruz really doesn't make a good pirate.

There's little character development here and instead, we get plenty of corny and feeble scriptwriting. We don't get enough time with Claflin and the mermaid so we care little for them. Claflin appears to be Bloom's counterpart, the innocent missionary who's a little wet behind the ears. Stephen Graham appears to replace both Arenberg and Crook, providing the common stupidity these pirates share. And what has happened to Barbossa? The love shared between the two main pirates is still very much there but that outfit! At least McNally is still here donning his Wolverine mutton chops.

This is a water-downed, groggy version of the previous trilogy, more like a TV Movie in every aspect, the crew feels smaller, the action too rigid and the wit feels forced as oppose to improv. Even Zimmer's score just sounds recycled. There's a few theories as to why, maybe the franchise has finally grounded, washed ashore, marooned and left to die. Maybe it's because it's of a different director. Same writers at the quill but maybe Marshall doesn't have the flare Verbinski had. Or maybe because it feels too distant from the previous films missing key characters like Swann, Turner and even Davy Jones... Or... could it be the reported lack of enthusiasm Depp was feeling as a result of the sacking of Disney studio chairman, Dick Cook. Who Depp trusted and visa versus, who allowed Depp to really explore the character of Jack. Whilst it's unclear to the reasons behind Cooks departure, he was described as "the nicest man in Disney's jungle" by BusinessWeek. But all that being said, each theory making some sense, Oren Aviv, Disney's Head of Production has stated they wished to scale down the film, not wanting to get too big for it's boots, with a budget being two thirds of the last film at $200m.

It's certainly on stranger tides with this one, even though there's plenty of familiar ground. It just doesn't match up at all to any of Verbinski's Pirates and unfortunately leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. I think it would be wise to leave it alone for awhile.

Running Time: 6

The Cast: 6

Performance: 6

Direction: 5

Story: 6

Script: 6

Creativity: 6

Soundtrack: 6

Job Description: 5

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

Would I buy the Blu-ray?: No.

52% 5/10

Also check out:

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge/Dead Men Tell No Tales

#JohnnyDepp #GeoffreyRush #KevinMcNally #HansZimmer #KeithRichards #PenélopeCruz #IanMcShane #RobMarshall #SamClaflin #AstridBergèsFrisbey #StephenGraham #RichardGriffiths #JudiDench #ChristopherFairbank