US Release Date: 05-20-2011
Directed by: Rob Marshall
- Johnny Depp, as
- Jack Sparrow
- Penelope Cruz, as
- Geoffrey Rush, as
- Ian McShane, as
- Kevin McNally, as
- Sam Claflin, as
- Astrid Berges-Frisbey, as
- Stephen Graham, as
- Keith Richards, as
- Captain Teague
- Richard Griffiths, as
- King George
- Greg Ellis, as
- Daniel Ings as
Jack Sparrow and Angelica
After the last disappointing Pirates of the Caribbean film I was none too excited about On Stranger Tides. It starts out horribly. Jack Sparrow is disguised as a judge in an English court. After far too much talking and some ridiculous escaping, Jack gets chased through the streets of London, only to coincidentally be saved by his father, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Is a Keith Richard's cameo really that relevant to ticket sales?
After all that nonsense the film really starts with Jack waking up aboard a ship out at sea. Everyone, it seems, is out to find the fountain of youth. This includes Blackbeard, an old girlfriend, Barbosa and the Spanish Armada. Before getting to the fountain they must first capture a mermaid for her tears and find two chalices. This all leads to light hearted adventure.
One of the reasons the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie worked was that Will Turner was the opposite of Jack. Will was an innocent young romantic man of higher morals, while Jack has committed every sin under the sun. Although Jack is a bad influence on him, they accentuated each others strongest personality traits. Here we have a young preacher with an eye for a Mermaid. His part should have been expanded to include more scenes with Jack. So many jokes and witty dialogue could be written between a drunken pirate and a priest.
Instead we have far too many scenes with Jack and Angelica. Sure, Penelope Cruz is as hot as always, but their chemistry is mediocre at best. As a prequel to the other films we know they do not end up together. We know that Jack will never settle down, so why do we care at all about their relationship. They lie to each other the whole film and not even in a cute way. How it ends is not in the least bit romantic.
There is still some fun to be had here. The scene with the mermaids attacking is easily the best. Blackbeard uses some men as bait in a long boat to attract them. It is the films most tense moment. Never have such seductively beautiful naked women seemed so menacing.
Depp is still charming as Jack Sparrow, with his awkward mannerisms and speech, "Captain, I wish to report a mutiny. I can name fingers and point names." He is the glue that holds the series together but his act is getting a little tedious. Again, having him bounce off someone like a minister would have helped. As it is, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is better than the previous film but not nearly as good as the first.
Penelope Cruz will shiver your timber in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
I remember enjoying the first Pirates movie, being disappointed by the second and not even bothering to see the third. I had zero expectations for this fourth installment so can't say I was really let down by it, but at the same time I wasn't exactly excited by it either. This franchise has long over stayed its welcome, and not just because each installment, including this one, runs about 45 minutes too long.
Although Captain Sparrow is the star of this series, I think he's its biggest liability. The problem with him is that he makes a great supporting character, but as a lead he lacks some important qualities. He's odd and funny, but to be the protagonist he needs to be a motivator in the story and Jack's just not very good at that. He's a caricature instead of a fully developed person. He can be funny and charming, but he really needs someone to play the hero role and as you say Eric, there's no one here to do that except for the young holy man, who's part is fairly small.
I also agree with you Eric that Cruz and Depp lack chemistry. The two characters whose interactions I enjoyed the most were Jack and Barbossa. Depp and Geoffrey Rush manage to banter together in a way that actually makes you believe they share a past, which is something I never believed with Cruz and Depp.
Since Depp's performance as Sparrow has long drawn comparisons to Keith Richards, I'm only surprised it took them this long to have him do a cameo. It's just too bad that they didn't know what to do with him once he agreed to appear. He shows up out of nowhere, passes along some cryptic information and then disappears. They couldn't manage one joke for him at least?
As I said earlier, at well over two hours the movie runs way too long. There's too much talking and not enough action and what action there is feels neutered and tame.There's certainly never a hint of danger toward Jack and what violence there is, remains safely rated G.
There's also some sloppy writing and plot holes. The way the fountain works is very carefully explained, for instance. Two people drink from it and one dies while the other gets all of the remaining time left the other person who drank would have had if they'd died. Inevitably, two people do drink from the fountain, but the results are different from how it was explained the fountain worked.
Jack Sparrow is a memorable character and Depp does a good job as him, but what's needed is a writer and an editor who are able to do something with him that makes a good movie. Something the makers of this film are unable to do.
Photos © Copyright Walt Disney Pictures (2011)