Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) by The Critical Movie Critics

Meeting the infamous Blackbeard.

There are many people who love the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” although seeing the awfulness that was “The Country Bears” and knowing that “The Haunted Mansion” was soon to follow, the film just seemed like a similar ploy for Disney to pillage their old tourist attractions and try to eke out a few doubloons. However, Pirates found a savior in Johnny Depp and his oddly mannered but oddly alluring Jack Sparrow — a role that has carved out a place on the list of greatest characters ever committed to celluloid and still the best reason to watch any of the three (now four) Pirates films. The success of the first film led to the inevitable sequels and the unavoidable franchise that developed (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End“). Most said the films that followed the first Pirates installment were unfocused and bloated, a CGI discordance. I, however, find their breadth and scope, the imagination and the gutsy-ness it took to bring these stories to the screen both amazing and inspiring. The fourth film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, is a worthy successor into the further adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow.

In this chapter, Jack finds himself crossing wits and swords with a lady from his past, the mysterious Angelica (Penelope Cruz). She takes him on board the Queen Anne’s Revenge, ship of the brutal and unjust pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and becomes embroiled in a search for the Fountain of Youth. This is a race to see who gets there first. It is run between the Spaniards, Blackbeard’s crew and the indestructible Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) who is more concerned with revenge for his lost ship and his lost leg then after immortality. Along the way they must all contend with zombies, mermaids and all sorts of other devilry.

New to the series is director Rob Marshall, he of “Nine,” “Memoirs of a Geisha” and the Academy Award winning “Chicago,” taking over for Gore Verbinski, director of the first three Pirate films. He brings a new sensibility to this movie without taking anything away from what has been established before. As you can see from his filmography, Rob knows a thing or two about song and dance, and this plays into the newness he brings. On the previous iterations of Pirates, Jack got by and won battles on his wits, quick thinking and luck more than anything else. However, this time Rob choreographs the fight scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides like dance routines (Step-two-three-four, Stab-two-three-four) and as such Jack comes across as having somehow learned gymnastics and acrobatics and therefore having far more skill and grace then he’s ever shown before.

What Rob does not do away with, and that which I am glad he does not, is the brutality and the weight of the situations taking place. The Pirate films could have so easily become cartoon-like in their depictions of the life on the high seas, bloodless and play violence, especially under the guidance of the Disney machine. But Gore Verbinski did not shy away from showing a gutted old salt, a boy on the gallows or a sailor meeting his crushing demise under the tentacles of the Kraken and, thankfully, Mr. Marshall is not shy either. There is a scene near the end of the film where a whirlpool rips the flesh off a man’s bones. It brings with it the heft and punch it should . . . as well as a harkening back to a certain Last Crusade.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) by The Critical Movie Critics

A great date location.

Rob brings along with him a couple of actresses he worked with on “Nine”; the first being Dame Judy Dench who makes a brief and comedic cameo as a society lady. The second is Penelope Cruz, teaming up with Depp for the first time since “Blow,” who I feel is miscast as the daughter of Blackbeard. She does not have the ruggedness of appearance or personality that we’ve seen in this series from other women of the sea, but instead has to try and balance a loyalty to her father that exposes her emotions with a hardness of heart towards all those she uses and manipulates. It is a disservice to both her as an actress and to the series. There is also a subplot that develops between a missionary and a mermaid (sounds like the beginning of a joke) that went on far too long and which also ended rather ambiguously for the poor missionary. I suppose the writers were trying desperately to fill the hole left by the expulsion of the Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly storyline, but really, anytime away from Jack and his crew was time ill spent.

Those small defects aside, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will join its three brothers on my DVD shelf. I was shown breathtaking sights that I could never have envisioned on my own. I was taken on a journey — an adventure — from one end of the world to the other, though perils and wonders with people I enjoy spending time with. I shared in a story that expanded my imagination and brought into new light things that I previously thought I had already known. I had fun. I cannot ask for anything more from a film. Savvy?

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
5 Star Rating: Fantastic


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The Critical Movie Critics

Marco wrote, directed and produced the feature film Within. He has lived in the Los Angeles area his whole life. Top 10 Favorite Movies: Fight Club, The Fountain, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Oldboy, Pulp Fiction, Children of Men, City of God, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Shawshank Redemption and Memento. Top 5 Favorite Directors: Spike Jonze, Darren Aronofsky, Alfonso Cuaron, Quentin Tarantino and Billy Wilder. Top 3 Favorite Film Composers: Clint Mansell, John Williams and Howard Shore. You can follow his 140 character movie reviews on Twitter Or friend him on Facebook Or watch some short films of his on YouTube

'Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)' have 15 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 16, 2011 @ 9:13 pm Casper

    Happy to hear On Stranger Tides lives up to expectations. I’m really looking forward to seeing it!

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 16, 2011 @ 10:05 pm Wilton While

    Good review Marco. I too agree that Jack Sparrow is one of the all time great characters in movie history sharing space with the likes of Indiana Jones and James Bond. Who is your tops? (might be a good top 10 list for you to craft..)

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 17, 2011 @ 11:23 am BritzenHie

    I kinda figured Penelope Cruz was miscast as the daughter of Blackbeard. Would you say the movie would have been better had Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley continued their roles?

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 17, 2011 @ 12:50 pm Marco D.

    Wilton – That top 10 sounds interesting. I’ll get to work on it.
    BritzenHie – No I don’t think it would be better. I was never invested in their relationship and I kinda like the bitter-sweet way it ended up.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 17, 2011 @ 5:47 pm Sid

    Did you happen to see it in 3D? The effects looks good but I’m curious if they’re worth the extra cash..

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 17, 2011 @ 6:12 pm Marco D.

    Honestly I find 3D to be a waste of time. Only Avatar and Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams have I thought worth the extra effort and cost.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 17, 2011 @ 9:33 pm Rummy

    My problem with Penelope Cruz is she can’t speak English to save her life. She butchers the language and it hurts my ears when she talks.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 18, 2011 @ 7:34 pm Mariusz Zubrowski

    Isn’t that a bit ignorant?

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 19, 2011 @ 8:52 pm Rummy

    Ignorant? Not at all. She is a good actress when speaking her native tongue. When she is asked to speak English, especially lengths of dialogue, she sounds as if she has marbles in her mouth. I find myself trying to decipher what she is saying instead of focusing in on the moment.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 20, 2011 @ 6:34 am Vincent Chowe

    @ Sid

    There are few scenes in On Stranger Tides that benefit from the 3D. Save your money and see in 2D.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 21, 2011 @ 12:50 am Rapido

    Is it me? Does anyone else think Jack Sparrow is gayer than before? One of Sparrow’s charms is how dainty he is for a ruthless pirate but it really seemed overkill in Pirates 4.

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 24, 2011 @ 1:36 am Tom Clift

    Interesting reading a different opinion than my own – even though I HATED the film, you argued your points quite well. As you said, what more can you ask from a film like this than a fun time? Sadly, I didn’t experience that sense of fun – this film represented for me the series’ transition into a totally soulless, pointless money making franchise, and I’d probably name it the worst film I’ve seen in 2011 thusfar. Still, I’m glad you enjoyed it…and I’ll always have CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL,

  13. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 24, 2011 @ 4:54 pm Dan O.

    This one didn’t feel as epic as the second and third Pirates films and in many ways that’s a good thing. I also wish they did more with Captain Jack, but Depp is always amusing as him, and I still had some fun with this enjoyable Summer blockbuster. Good Review!

  14. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 16, 2011 @ 7:04 pm PADI Instructor

    Capt. Jack Sparrow is still number one! When I watch the movie I could not even answer properly my cousin who is sitting right beside me.

  15. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 29, 2011 @ 9:21 pm Gary

    Extraordinarily planned. The movie has satisfied what the viewers are looking for. The characters are truly give their best in portraying their roles. The setting also fit what the movie is all about.

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