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Firstly, this review does not contain any spoilers whatsoever so read
on. I had the privilege to watch this in the El Capitan theater
advanced screening. Johnny Depp, the goofy pirate that we have grown to
love, returns to his iconic role of Captain Jack Sparrow in an
action-packed tale of truth, betrayal, youth and demise.
The plot is when Jack crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz), he's not sure if it's loveor if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.
By being a fan this franchise, I can happily confirm that YES, it is as good as the first one! Be ready for an adventure and half! Brings everything from the classic bizarre comedy to the nail biting action scenes.
The marketing for the movie have been intelligently subliminal like some other great film releases, like Avatar, or Blair Witch (the real vs fake) and the recent awesome film production The Artifice (the-artifice.com) and so on.
This is not a film to miss, does not matter if you are a die hard fan of Pirates, or new to the series! I might be in trouble for writing a review of the movie this early, so please click Yes on the "is this review useful" as a thank you ;)
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is one of my favorite television
shows, even though its gone a bit downhill lately. Is it the cast? No,
because they are mostly intact. What is actually happening is that each
of the main characters, known for their superb chemistry amongst each
other, are suddenly spending less screen time with each other and more
time to themselves. This story actually has a point. On Stranger Tides
suffers the same fate: fantastic cast that don't spend as much time
with each other as we hope. Add some pointless plot lines, a calmer
first-third of the flick, and you have yourself the fourth installment
of Pirates of the Caribbean.
That being said, its still quite entertaining. On Stranger Tides follows a variety of people searching for the fabled Fountain of Youth. Unfortunately for us, its not just Jack Sparrow. We have Blackbeard, the Spanish, the British (led by Barbossa), Angelica, and more doing the same thing. Subplots pertaining to this quest include Jack's past with Angelica, Barbossa's questionable change in character, some random guy falling for some random girl (I am serious, this part was totally pointless), and the pointless Spanish people that flock in and out of the movie.
This is by far the weakest part of the movie, the script. For some odd reason, they borrowed far too much from the novel (whose pacing and themes far differ that of the Pirates brand) and forgot that sometimes simplicity is best---which is what made Curse of the Black Pearl such a great film. It was the easiest to follow, and On Stranger Tides didn't learn from the previous two installments. To add to that, the script utterly separated everyone, even those with the best on-screen chemistry. Barbossa was barely with Jack Sparrow, Sparrow was rarely with his ex-lover, and worst of all reliable Gibbs spent minimal time with Sparrow. When they are together, the humor, the banter, tension, and the charm works well. When they aren't, well, the movie drags a bit.
Thank goodness the cast is still on their game. Johnny Depp once again breathes life into the pirate movie with his smart, unpredictable, and hilarious portrayal of Jack Sparrow. Despite what the reviews say, Jack Sparrow's shtick isn't getting old as he is still a delight to watch. Geoffrey Rush once again shines as Jack's best rival Barbossa, as his quiet intentions resemble that of Sparrow in earlier films. Penelope Cruz adds a layer of sexuality that we definitely did not have with the other Pirates of the Caribbeans--it's just a shame she didn't have much time with Sparrow. Director Rob Marshall was able to shell out good performances from everyone in the cast, but he definitely wasn't the man for this job.
Almost all the chase scenes or action sequences were done with very low-lighting and poor camera angles. With the exception of the mesmerizing and chilling mermaid sequence and the opening chase, all the action moments were missing that special touch. While the bizarreness of Gore Verbinski will not be totally missed (although his style worked perfectly in Rango), his ability to crank out excellent stuntwork and fights was sorely missing here. At least we got to see plenty of it, from the opening chase to the final dramatic (and short) showdown. Say whatever you want, but there has yet to be anything that can top the infamous three-way sword fight/old mill showdown from Dead Man's Chest.
Bottom Line: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a mix of frustration and fun. There was plenty of potential that wasn't met because of questionable plot lines, pointless moments, lack of chemistry (once again: writer's fault. Good going Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio), and uneven direction. All that banter aside, Pirates is also plenty fun with several delightful moments, funny lines, and much more action than the last Pirates flick. Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz and company keep the movie afloat, and prevent it from being a pure bore. But I think the franchise works better when Verbinski is behind the camera. On Stranger Tides is decent summer entertainment, but doesn't have the inescapable magic and charm of the first two.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm sure my surroundings had a lot to do with my enjoyment of the film, or lack thereof, but even without that it wasn't up to the high standard that I regard the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films. The plot was flaky and apart from Jack, the characters weren't that great.
After seeing Ian McShane in Deadwood I was convinced he'd make a fantastic Blackbeard, but I think his Lovejoy character was more evil than he was in On Stranger Tides. At the height of his devilishness (is that even a word?) he triggered his ship's flamethrower to kill a mutineer and gave us doubts over his true feelings to a daughter he'd only just found out about. He wasn't a patch on the Barbosa/Davey Jones/Lord Beckett trifecta of evil from the first three films. As someone once said, Luke Skywalker was only as good as Darth Vader was evil.
Speaking of the daughter, Penelope Cruz as Angelica was a character I felt very apathetic towards. The whole raison d'etre of her quest to find the Fountain of Youth was because it had been foretold that a one legged man would kill her father and she wanted to save him so she could have that father she never heard. I'm sorry but pass me the bucket - that sentimental dross deserves to be on Jeremy Kyle (Oprah Winfrey for anyone reading from the US) not as the main plot for the latest of one of the biggest film franchises of all time.
The dilemma at the end of the film sees both Blackbeard and Angelica about to die and only one can be saved by the Fountain of Youth. At that point I didn't care if either died and why should I? Blackbeard is an evil man, or so they tell us, and Angelica has used Jack to get to the Fountain of Youth. If I were Jack I'd have left them both to die and the film would have been better off if he had. At least then we'd have some of the darker side of Jack which never showed appeared in this film. Instead our scoundrel played a goody two shoes who seemed to be motivated by his concern for Angelica's safety. Please, this is Jack Sparrow we are talking about, like he really gives a damn about anyone apart from himself, a characteristic which made him so appealing in the previous films. Yes, he does have a softer side that we've seen before, but to not this whipped extent.
Don't even get me started on the Mermaids. They were great to start with, but as soon as it was just Syrena and her boring relationship with Philip the clergyman, all was lost as they gave us the dullest moments in Pirates of the Caribbean history, to date.
My last major moan is about the part where Jack left Angelica on the island. Remember, Angelica's whole motivation was to save her father, and Jack had just condemned him to death. So why in God's name, when his back was turned, did she try to attack him with a piece of wood and not shoot him in the back with the pistol he had just given her? Yes she had some feelings for Jack, but surely not enough for her to get over the fact that Jack had basically just killed her father and destroyed what she had spent the whole film trying to achieve? Don't give me the old 'he saved her life' spiel Jack let Blackbeard , her father, die - end of story.
Whilst nowhere near as funny as in the previous films Jack was still a great character, in spite of his wimpy attitude change. The scenes where he escaped from the King and the clutches of the Spanish were a reminder of how great Pirates of the Caribbean can be at its best. It was great to see Gibbs back alongside Jack as their chemistry is great and a nice link back my beloved first three films.
As always, the film looked and sounded great, though the 3D wasn't essential and I found myself taking the glasses off from time to time and it made little difference. In fact I'd go as far as to say that while you lose depth in 2D, you gain richness in colour.
I'm struggling to think of much else to compliment the film for and at the moment I'm stuck in my post viewing disappointment funk. I really need to watch it again but after my horrific cinema experience I'll wait until it comes out on Blu-ray.
I saw an advanced screening of this movie last night at the El Capitan theatre in Hollywood. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so all I'll say is that it was pretty darn good. By not having Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom in it, the film didn't feel like just a rehash of all the other PotC films. Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane really added a lot to the film, and I loved Sam Claflin's performance. But of course you have to have Johnny Depp, because it wouldn't be PotC without him, and Geoffrey Rush was spectacular as always. All in all, this has everything you'd expect from PotC: swashbuckling, sea creatures, sword-fighting, and lots of great comedy; but the new cast members keep it feeling fresh.
As far as the Pirates of the Caribbean movies go, On Stranger Tides may
be lacking in the rollicking fun of Curse of the Black Pearl, which I
absolutely loved, though it's closer in spirit to it than those of the
two movies before, but I think it is better than Dead Man's Chest,
which had great effects and a brilliant Bill Nighy but felt overlong
and ferentic sometimes, and At World's End, which had the cast giving
their all, great visuals, score and final battle but rather convoluted
and bloated on the whole.
On Stranger Tides isn't perfect. I did feel it did have perhaps have too many moments of exposition and clichés, though the story if slightly rickety in places here is less bloated noticeably and better paced than the film released before it which is a good thing. I also felt the romantic subplot(s) felt underdeveloped and forced, and while there are some droll, bizarre and witty quips particularly with Depp, Rush and Cruz there is a bit of filler that could have been excised.
However, despite these complaints, On Stranger Tides is a worthy instalment. Once again, the production values are impeccable, the cinematography is skillful, the costumes, sets and period recreation is authentic and the effects are superb. The opening twenty minutes is an example of the writing being at its funniest and wittiest, and the scenes with the mermaids are beautifully shot and intriguing.
While not perhaps original, and not among his best, I did very much like Hans Zimmer's score, which was rousing and brought some much-needed energy. The characters are not the best developed, but they are fun and there aren't too many of them to interrupt the flow of the story, a big problem I found with At World's End, while the action sequences are both exciting and nail-biting on the whole.
I wasn't so sure about Rob Marshall as director, but he does a far better job than expected, and the film is livelier in pace than Dead Man's Chest and At World's End. The acting is good enough for what it was. Johnny Depp plays lovable rogue Jack Sparrow with a voluptuous swagger and sly humour and nails it again, while the idea to omit Kiera Knightley and Orlando Bloom here proved a good one, without them for my money the whole adventure carried less of a dead weight.
Instead we have Penelope Cruz, who proves a perfect match for Depp. She is feisty, beautiful, foxy and sexy, and also likable and fun. I was wondering what they would do for villains without Bill Nighy, but I needn't have worried. Ian McShane is a worthy addition as Blackbeard, who is charming in a grizzly way while committing acts of great evil. Geoffrey Rush is underused in a way, but he does have some great lines and a fun presence so he isn't a complete waste.
In conclusion, On Stranger Tides is not a perfect film, but as an instalment to a decent enough franchise it is a more than worthy one. And you know, what I've said about this movie was not something I thought I would be saying, because judging by what I'd seen of the advertising/trailers, it looked as though it was going be the worst of the series, but actually for me it wasn't. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox
So after a 4 year hiatus Disney decides to bring back Captain Jack
Sparrow. A huge fan of the first one and moderately enjoyed the second
one and confused by the third one I was ready to see a fresh crew for
the this new installment.
The films opening scene was fantastic. It was fun and creative and really captured the essence of the Jack Sparrow that we love. It kept going for a bit. The first 20 minutes of the movie were the most exciting and fun parts of the movie except for one scene which I feel may be second best scene in all the Pirates films.
The infamous addition of mermaids was the best part in the entire film. It was very reminiscent of the powerful underwater march of the dead from the first film.
Lets move onto the acting. Most of it was decently solid but Ian McShane as the villain, Black Beard stole the show. He actually seemed like the only one who cared to make the film interesting. Another newcomer to the series was Penelope Cruz. She was nothing fantastic but completely necessary to bring in a much needed sex appeal to the film. Geoffrey Rush returned as Barbosa, I felt he was very confused as to if he was a bad guy or good guy which caused his acting to seem very indifferent. There were a few scenes that you knew he was having fun but otherwise he was just a drag. And of course Johnny Depp reprized his role as the witty fun loving Captain Jack Sparrow. Again he had his moments just like Barbosa that were fun and creative but he even came up a little lackluster in certain scenes.
The story was super simple, which I guess is understandable considering the convoluted mess of 2 and 3.There was an unnecessary sub plot that never got resolved, which I wish they spent a little more time on and made it a little darker. I am not going to spoil anything though, but you will see what I am talking about when you see the film. As you wait for the scene after the credits you want it to be the conclusion to this sub plot but nope. The climax could have been a bit more climatic and more exciting, but I guess they did what they could. Most of the action happens in the dark so I would not recommend the 3D transfer of it. I saw it in 2D and I thought the 3D wouldn't be worth it.
Marshall did a mediocre job directing. It was nothing special and definitely not Gore Verbinski. The way the film turned out, it looked like the director was even bored while shooting.
Positively though it is a summer blockbuster where your brain needs to be left at home and will be enjoyed by lovers of the series. It may not stay with you but for an hour and half of the movie out of the 2+ running time you will be enjoying yourself which I guess is not too bad.
On initial reaction to the film I gave it a 7/10 because at the time it was enjoyable. Then I thought about it and the reason I almost fell asleep twice was not because it was late, it was because the story was boring and nothing was really happening in this lengthy piece of work. Therefore on second reaction it gets a 5/10.
If they continue the series, which I am sure they will seeing as how this film will make bank over the weekend, they need to trim out the unnecessary sub plots that do nothing for the story except let it drag on and if anything bring back the gorgeous and creepy mermaids. Also have a little faith in the audience, you can make the plot a little bit more thought provoking instead of laying all the pieces in front of us and then watching you put them together after we already know how to do the puzzle in our head.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 5/10 via The Reel King
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jack Sparrow...I mean Captain Jack Sparrow, it's probably time to hang
your boots and bury your sinking pirate career before dirt-storm wrecks
whatever remains of my sweet memories of the original Jack Sparrow
legend, the Curse of the Black Pearl. Although, I wasn't half as
impressed with its sequels, somehow even in those movies the Pirate
magic weaved its way into the hearts of loyal fans, many of whom I'm
sure are as aggrieved and disappointed as I am, just choosing to remain
silent out of respect and love for the Jack Sparrow we all knew and
cared about. However it needs to be said, the current version achieves
nothing apart from making you scratch your head in frustration.
Someone here commented this was supposed to be better than at least its last two predecessors -bollocks. After all, who can forget the inspiring "Hoist the Colours" speech by Elizabeth in "At World's End", and that opening execution scene did it not send shivers down your spine? About this version, I don't recollect ONE memorable scene worth talking about. There's nothing, absolutely nothing inspirational or redeemable.
Before watching this monstrous travesty of a pirate story, I read each and every review on IMDb and was confused whether or not to spend a lot of money on it. Finally I listened to my heart who cares about critics, being a loyal Pirate fan I knew at least Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush wouldn't disappoint. My, couldn't have been any wronger. In fact, I never felt so disappointed listening to my heart. With a straight face, I managed to sit through the entire screening, taking a while to realise how casually the sublime Pirate magic was fading away into an appalling doom of mediocrity, clichés and earthy innuendoes.
Plot aside, everything about the movie was repetitive and easily predictive, "now comes the swordfight", "now comes the menacing Blackbeard", "the mermaid's about to bite". If they paid me a dollar for each correct guess, I'm sure I would have been rich by now. Even the soundtrack failed to strike a chord. About Jack Sparrow and Barbossa, I could notice a deep sense of fatigue in dialogue delivery with such fine actors despite the fact no one else can take their roles. Was it like let's just take our money and get over with this nonsense. About Blackbeard, impressive introduction but for the remaining film, I don't think that character could have scared a two year old in a dark room. Angelica, that Latina lover of Jack Sparrow, well she could have been a breath of fresh air but the character lacked depth and dimensions. Speaking of Latins, why did they make the Spaniard Kings and soldiers speak English? I've read a lot of history about Spain's naval prowess in the olden days, for greater authenticity couldn't they have made them speak Castilian Spanish with sub- titles in English. It's tiny details like these which make you angry about the lack of research in putting together such a fabled story. The "Fountain of Youth", again a great plot element but I wanted a genuine SENSE OF HISTORY with that like its legendary connections with Ancient Greeks and the lost kingdom of Atlantis. Again, deja vu remember how Barbossa made an introduction of those Gold nuggets in Curse of the Black Pearl, connecting them with Aztec civilisation and the Conquistadores led by Hernan Cortes. Now, that's called RESEARCH.
The mermaids were neither beautiful nor significant enough. I think they should have casted blonde Russian chicks straight from Moscow and St.Petersburg for that look of vulnerability. The priest who fell in love with the mermaid was neither convincing in his religious fervour nor his romantic passion for the woman.
VERDICT: Let this Pirate of the Caribbean storyline end now already, and not be resurrected until another 50-100 years!
P.S.: In all fairness, I've seen far worse movies than POTC- On Stranger Tides. If it were simply another movie, I would have rated it a Three Point Five. But, since you have the legendary POTC appeal to bank upon, expectations will always be much higher, so you just can't afford to disappoint. Thus, there you are - One Star.
After a four-year hiatus to regroup and determine the future of the
franchise, Disney and what was once its surprise mega-hit "Pirates of
the Caribbean" series have returned in "On Stranger Tides." Hard to
believe that this franchise evolved from the once-lambasted concept of
a theme park ride being turned into a successful motion-picture
blockbuster. After exhausting the "Pirates" world with two back-to-back
sequels of titanic and rather disappointing proportion in 2006 and
2007, a break in the action to recalibrate Captain Jack Sparrow's
compass was much-needed. The "new" course set by "On Stranger Tides"
uses worn sails, but with a fresh wind of characters and more
importantly, a more direct purpose.
As promised in the end of "At World's End," Jack's looking for the Fountain of Youth if for nothing more than ships and giggles. First, however, he must take a side trip to London to rescue his old pal Gibbs (Kevin McNally) and subsequently the palace of King George (Richard Griffiths in a lovely cameo). There, he learns that his old pal Barbossa (Rush) has lost The Black Pearl as well as his leg and sold out to His Majesty's Royal Navy. He is to help the English find the Fountain before the Spaniards do. Jack, of course, knows the way there, thus continuing his ongoing role as an indispensable pestilence.
After a familiar improvised escape, he crosses paths with an old lover, Angelica (Penelope Cruz), who he once deflowered before she was to take her vows at a convent. She mentions she has a ship he can borrow, only it turns out that it's her father's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, captained by none other than Blackbeard the Pirate (Ian McShane), a feared and soulless scourge with a minor in black magic. So much for smooth sailing.
As overdone and cliché as the Fountain of Youth may be, it's perfect for the "Pirates" franchise and helps keep things very simple, something the last installment had more than a fair deal of trouble with. Only a few character subplots threaten to convolute the story, but all motivations lead to the Fountain regardless the reason. In fact, "On Stranger Tides" marks the first film to truly focus on Captain Jack. With Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley's characters out of the way, the franchise can keep the spotlight on the reason it's gotten four films deep. Depp has nothing new in store for us as the true center of attention, but by continuing to underplay the trademark quirks and mannerisms, he continues to prolong the deterioration of the Capt. Jack act. Some might disagree, but it depends how much you liked him the first place.
In terms of new faces, Ian McShane is impeccable as Blackbeard. Rush gave a wonderfully theatrical performance as the main villain in the first film, but McShane introduces the first true quantifiable force of evil the franchise has seen. Although his voodoo abilities and reputation for killing his men and bringing them back from the dead to serve as his zombie slaves are never entirely realized, he's the merciless villain this film needed. He never fully crosses into scare-your-children evil, but he could've at any instant and that feeling radiates from his performance. In general, this film aligns itself more with fantasy and traditional folklore than the supernatural like the previous film.
Among other new faces, Rob Marshall as the franchise's new director does serviceable work. The "Chicago" filmmaker chews the scenery well and creates effective moods and tones, but the action could have been a bit more inspired, especially considering the series' reputation for sword-fighting ingenuity.
Marshall's best work and the film's best sequence deals with mermaids, not the singing and seashell bra type, but seduce you with their looks and then try and devour you with fangs type. Quiet, suspenseful and culminating in a full-on action sequence, the mermaids constitute the one completely fresh element of the film. Their cove is the lone stop on the journey as well, so it's the only aspect of the plot that creates that classic seafaring adventure feeling akin to Homer's "The Odyssey."
Not much else deviates from the formula, so those hoping for a resurgence in the series or something as good as the first film, "The Curse of the Black Pearl," will remain wishful thinkers once again. It's hard to imagine where the series could go next without retreading over old ground or just introducing new characters for the sake of it, but Captain Jack Sparrow remains one of the few reliable comforts of blockbuster cinema, and any adventure with him at the wheel will struggle to be a total waste of time. "On Stranger Tides" makes just enough adjustments to the series to make for a successful installment.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jack Sparrow, Barbossa and Mr. Gibbs are by far, the best combinations,
they are the real comedians of this movie. I missed the rest of the
Black Pearl's crew.
Angélica doesn't show her role clearly and she has a pointless quest (save her father from death, who was predicted to be killed by one man that has a wood-leg ), somehow she could be lovely for some people and totally annoying for others.
Blackbeard doesn't show his role also, he has a great first entrance and "that's it"....then he moves between being an evil man and a scared old man.
The cleric and mermaid's love story is totally forgettable and bad acted by the cleric mainly.
The real problem of this movie is the lack of detail explanations... the Blackbeard's sword seems to be an important item, but its origin was never described (this role was played in the anterior movies by Pintel and Ragetti, giving details over every mythic character or legends) the same fact with Blackbeard , the lost of the Barbossa's leg just has a couple of lines without any image showing the event, even in "racconto" mode.
In general lines, the movie lacks of story and details.
These Pirates films are all about entertainment and thankfully this latest adventure with Captain Jack Sparrow at the helm is back to basics, reminding me of the formula that made the very first one, Curse of the Black pearl so great. Don't worry I won't give anything away here but be aware that the opening 20 minutes is one funny sequence and quirky one liner after another. There is also a couple of hilarious cameos, one may be familiar but the other was a right royal shock. Depp walks through his lethargic swaying pirate character with ultimate ease, while new high seas bad boy Blackbeard is exceptional, but not as cool as Sparrows former flame played by Cruz. She is foxy, feisty and funny. The action is elevated by some wonderful 3D effects but I am sure the film would be just as rocking without it. Finally, the highlight is the Mermaid scenes. As dark as they are, they take the viewer into their web of intrigue. Australian Gemma Ward even sings during an evocative moment. Remember to stay on after the credits for an EXTRA scene. After the last two installments left me crying with disappointment, I Loved it.
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