Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

by Christopher Misch

Johnny Depp sails the seas once again as Captain Jack Sparrow in this the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, entitled On Stranger Tides. In his latest adventure, Sparrow finds himself on a perilous quest to locate the elusive fountain of youth. With Gore Verbinski‘s departure from the Pirates‘ franchise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer has turned to the talents of director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha) to carry this blockbuster franchise forward. In an attempt to infuse some new blood into the withering franchise, the beautiful Penélope Cruz and the intimidating Ian McShane have also come aboard. But unfortunately, not a new director, nor a new cast of characters, and even the return of composer Hans Zimmer can save On Stranger Tides from being anything but an overly-long, silly, and uninspiring installment in a franchise that is clearly stretching its material past its breaking point.

Ever since the sequels of Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, the Pirates‘ ship has been sinking; and in the process the franchise has relied solely on the performances of Johnny Depp to keep its head above water. But with On Stranger Tides being the fourth installment, Jack Sparrow’s charm has warn off, his antics have grown tiresome, and the series really has nothing with substance to fall back on. Marshall, Bruckheimer, and Depp are trying their best to recreate the magic and imagination from The Curse of the Black Pearl, but their efforts are in vain as there simply isn’t much here to commend. Zombies, mermaids, and a Kieth Richard’s cameo isn’t enough to refresh a dying franchise.

The action harnessed within On Stranger Tides is surprisingly dull and uninspiring; with the only savior being Hans Zimmer’s bombastic musical score that is unquestionably overcompensating for the film’s spiritless fight sequences. Zimmer has this remarkable ability to make even the blandest of scenes stimulating, and his talents are heavily relied upon here to simply keep us awake. Besides the mermaid attack, which to the film’s credit was quite exhilarating, On Stranger Tides is composed of nothing we haven’t witnessed in previous Pirates‘ installments. There is really no climax, no arousing moment where we hold our collective breath in anticipation or excitement; but rather just a series of disjointed and flat action sequences held together at the seams by Johnny Depp, as he collects another enormous paycheck while attempting to captain a ship that can no longer be saved. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides feels passé and unless the franchise is able to successfully rediscover the magic, imagination, and excitement that embodied The Curse of the Black Pearl, any subsequent sequels or prequels are unfortunately going to feel very much the same.

34/100 - Jack Sparrow’s charm has warn off, his antics have grown tiresome, and the series really has nothing with substance to fall back on.

Christopher Misch

I've always loved movies, but it wasn't until under the tutelage of Professor Garry Leonard at the University of Toronto that my passion for the industry became an understanding of an art form. With a specific fascination in both the western genre and Asian cinema in general, I am of the view that good movies are either enlightening or entertaining, and if you are truly lucky they are both.
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