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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides



Reviewed by: Luke Walkley

Released: 8th May 2011

Directed by: Rob Marshall

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush

Certificate: 12      

The Pirates of the Caribbean saga sets sail on its latest adventure ‘On Stranger Tides’. The fourth Instalment of the franchise sees Penelope Cruz take over from the previous star duo of Kiera Knightley and Orlando Bloom as the main on-screen counterpart for Johnny Depp.

Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) has become a worldwide phenomenon, taking more money from its first three films than all the Harry Potter films put together. No mean feat, but the third instalment was widely believe to lack the charm of the original and even the sequel, Dead Man’s Chest. However, as the films charm keeps bringing in the fans, time after time, the fourth film was always on the cards.

On Stranger Tides centres around the legend of ‘The Fountain of Youth’ a location believed to grant anyone who drinks from its water an extended, perhaps even eternal life. A bounty that more than one seafaring man cannot resist, each for their own reasons. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) each head to the supposed location of the mythical fountain. As they embark on their voyage it becomes clear they are not the only ones seeking the ultimate treasure, the infamous Captain Blackbeard (Ian Mcshane) and his daughter, Angelica (Penelope Cruz) are also en-route.

The plotline seemed to tick all the right boxes, clever takes on well known legends always seem to go down well, as long as they are delivered to a decent standard. POTC managed it superbly in the second film of the saga, entwining the legend of Davy Jones quite fantastically, with the charismatic endeavours of Jack Sparrow, SO why should this film be any different.

The short answer? It’s not. The idea IS cleverly crafted yet again; however a film is not built on an idea alone, and the story forms the foundation upon which the movie must build. However, the material which is used to build is shoddy. The pillar, on which the franchise rests, Depp’s performance as the quirky Jack Sparrow, seems strained and far too overused. The film needed a new shot of life and while the creators may have felt Cruz as Angelica and McShane as Blackbeard were what it needed. Their performances aren’t encapsulating enough, Blackbeard isn’t a ‘bad enough’ bad-guy and Cruz merely acts as a target for numerous sexual innuendos throughout the film.

The film has taken a slightly different approach, but it’s not exactly as you may have imagined it. While Knightley’s character, Elizabeth Swan was less of a love interest for Sparrow, Angelica clearly is and don’t we know it… Numerous sexual jibes just lower the family values of the previous films.  In some aspects, it’s a real shame. The previous instalments always offered family friendly comedy, appreciated by children and the parents that say they ‘dragged along’ but secretly they were the ones suggesting they go. In my opinion, this could be the issue that knocks the wind out of the series sails.

A major disappointment from this film is the action scenes. They are pretty much identical throughout and seem to drag on for a long while, beefing out the running time appears to be the main reason they are included.  Once the first one has ran its course with the swinging and the symmetrical swordplay, by this I mean, all the characters of any importance are never able to best each other at sword-play, it seems the same scene is played out before our eyes again and again.

The film isn’t all bad, by any means. Despite being heavily over-relied on, Sparrows wit is still the main pulling point of the film and offers numerous chuckles. The epic score is ever-present and humming along is irresistible.  There are also several moments that mirror the original and hint that the film may return to its former glory.

All in all, it seems former Director Gore Vebrinski, jumped ship at the right time. Seemingly sensing it was sinking. Rob Marshall attempts to bring in his degree of creativeness to the series, but unfortunately for him it seems it’s too little too late. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides manages some of the original’s creativeness, but overall it doesn’t have enough wind in its sails to carry it far enough. If this is any indication towards the upcoming blockbuster sequels such as Transformers 3, The Hangover 2 and Cars 2, then all hope really is lost. However as it is highly unlikely all those films flop in terms of box office…(insert flash-forward to the future here) then POTC may be just one of the numerous films to become a cash-cow for future stars and directors. I, however certainly hope not.

Pirates will remain a future favourite, despite not being critically pleasing; it will remain a popular family choice. On Stranger Tides is a distinctly average family action/adventure. After apparently running aground after At World’s End, Cruz is used in an attempt to plug the leaks, but as long as Depp stays aboard, the series will manage to stay afloat.

25 year old film fanatic who loves rock music, Xbox and cat videos on Youtube. I also tweet @lewisvstheworld

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