Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Static Mass Rating: 1/5

Release date: May 18th 2011
Certificate (UK): 12A
Running time: 137 minutes

Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Johnny Depp, Ian McShane, Penelope Cruz, Richard Griffiths, Geoffrey Rush, Stephen Graham, Gemma Ward, Judi Dench, Keith Richards, Sam Claflin, Kevin McNally, Oscar Jaenada

Since cinema’s earliest days pirates have been capturing the imaginations of filmmakers and moviegoers alike. One of the earliest ones we know of is over 100 years old, The Aerial Submarine (1910). Since there have been many more memorable moments immortalised on celluloid; Peter Pan (1924), The Black Pirate (1926), The Sea Hawk (194), Reap the Wild Wind (1942) and Sinbad the Sailor, to name but a few.

Animation and Muppets got in on the action too; Popeye and the Pirates (1947) and Muppet Treasure Island (1996) were both very enjoyable for their take on the swashbuckling sub-genre.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

After an almost decade long lull then came Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) from Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. It launched the franchise with Johnny Depp and his sexually and morally ambiguous portrayal of the swaggering Captain Jack Sparrow, heavily inspired by Rolling Stones rock legend and guitarist Keith Richards.

Returning for the third sequel, Sparrow is forced aboard a ship called the Queen Anne’s Revenge by one of his old flames, Angelica (Penelope Cruz). She wants him to help her find the legendary Fountain of Youth, but the ship is commanded by the evil Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and who knows what he’ll do when he gets his hands on it. As they set sail, the British are also trying to reach the Fountain of Youth, lead by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) who’s now a privateer in the court of King George II.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The main problem is that its story doesn’t offer much at all. They’re in search of yet another fabled item and again there are moments when characters change or reveal their true alliances – neither makes for a worthwhile way to spend over two hours. Even the subplot with a young mermaid Syrena (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) and a horny missionary, Philip Swift (Sam Claflin), can’t make up for the fact there’s just no chemistry, either between them or Depp and Cruz. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley characters helped anchor Depp’s offbeat and wisecracking Sparrow in the previous movies, but without them he is left to carry this one on his own and the burden seems too much to bear. In a film that’s over two hours long, it might also too much for audiences to bear.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Apart from one particular scene where mermaids descend on a crew of hapless pirates, making it look more like a piranha attack, there’s very little excitement and absolutely no reason for this film to be in 3D. Dame Judi Dench’s appearance is far too fleeting, blink and you’ll most certainly miss it. I did manage a chuckle at Depp’s escape after being tied to a palm tree.

It’s not as unwatchable as At World’s End (2007) but it comes very close, especially with the tedious and overblown score by Hans Zimmer which bellows at any given moment to create the illusion something exciting is happening.

On Stranger Tides, I’m sad to say, is fool’s gold and you might have a better time going after some real treasures with Fairbanks and Flynn or even Renny Harlin’s Cutthroat Island (1995).

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