Is it time to give up on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise yet? The fantastic Curse of the Black Pearl apparently bought a lot of goodwill with me. Three less-than-stellar films later, I think I’m finally ready to let it go. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides continues to steer the same course as its predecessor sequels, focusing on convoluted storylines that zap all the fun and energy that made the first film so great.
This time around, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) finds himself in a race to the legendary Fountain of Youth, alongside the rival pirate, Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter, Angelica (Penelope Cruz). All the while, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is also trying to get to the same fountain, this time leading a British Navy ship, having lost the Black Pearl.
Like all the films in the series, On Stranger Tides looks great. Made for 3D, there’s a handful of forced gimmick shots, but overall there’s tons of detail and the darker tone of the story is firmly established.But four movies in, there needs to be a lot more than strong visuals.
My biggest frustration is in the character of Jack Sparrow. A big part of the appeal was the surprisingly over-the-top approach Depp took, channeling the spirit of rocker Keith Richards into a pirate. The surprise factor is gone and the lack of dimensions in the character couldn’t be more apparent. From film to film, Sparrow hasn’t changed. He’s the same person that he was at the start of Curse of the Black Pearl. The oafish personality of the character means there’s little attachment to him other than isolated gags. Should this series continue, there must be something more for the pirate captain. He needs new dimensions to give him some depth. This means more than chasing a new piece of treasure or fending off another supernatural bad guy.
Also, the supporting cast has gotten so large that many are lost in the shuffle, despite having key roles in major plot points. While I like the horror spin put on the mermaids, the pirate crew continue to be mere props for Sparrow to dupe. Should the franchise continue, I suggest a simplified structure–one that opts for heart and emotion rather than just Jack Sparrow prancing around. The gag was funny. Now it’s overkill.
On Stranger Tides has all the visual gloss that’s become a hallmark for the franchise. It also has a flimsy story and little emotion to go along with it.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Blu-ray Review
As one would expect, the picture quality on the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Blu-ray looks stunning. Audio is available in English, Spanish and French 7.1 DTS-HD HR and English DVS 2.0. Subtitles are in the same three languages.
Bonus features include an audio commentary with director Rob Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca, bloopers and a small collection of Pirates-themed Lego shorts. The Blu-ray also features Disney’s Second Screen, which provides additional features in real-time on a secondary device like a laptop or iPad.
The combo pack also comes with a DVD copy of the film.