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Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Directed By: Rob Marshall
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush

This fourth entry into the Pirates of Caribbean franchise is frustrating, dark (literally) and only occasionally thrilling. For the reason a Pirates movie normally redeems itself, this one fails; Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow has finally become the irritating wiseass who just won’t leave the party.

Early on, Jack is a lovingly familiar presence. Following a pursuit through 18th century London, he sheds his recognisable silhouette of billowing linen-silk tweed coat, stripping to an equally billowing linen shirt. As most of the film is set on land, costume designer Penny Rose has ensured he is more rock ‘n’ roll pirate adventurer than rock ‘n’ roll pirate in search of a ship. Apart from sun-bleached dreads, Jack’s look instantly correlates with the previous trilogy. He is a constant; really his character does not evolve in the slightest, and this can cause what was initially charm to become wearisome over time.

This is not Jack or Johnny’s fault. The law of diminishing returns decrees that with every quip, swagger or convoluted escape, the character becomes less and less interesting. Being as Jack has already died and come back to life; it is difficult to believe that he is ever in any danger. In fact, watching him scrub the deck of Blackbeard’s ship is almost pleasurable. Knocking the great man down a peg or two helps bring the audience back on side. It is a shame that Blackbeard himself, “the pirate all other pirates fear”, is so restrained as to be dignified. Ian McShane holds back when could have let rip. The lit fuses smoking under his beard are a knowing touch however.

Elements that might not be expected to work, mermaids, zombies, Penélope Cruz, for example, for the most part do. The Pirates series has always been proficient at blending real life historical framework with out and out fantasy. Just as costumes are authentic to a specific era, Cruz as vivacious female pirate Angelica is as far from reality as the aforementioned mermaids. Little concerned with hiding from a desperate crew of rum addled sailors, Angelica is all sexy pout and revealing décolletage. She fits into the Pirates saga perfectly.

A pity then that, for now at least, this saturated saga is dead in the water.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was released on 18th May.

You can watch movies online including Johnny Depp in the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy at t leave the party.

© 2011 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.

One Comment

  • Joy

    Oh no this was going was at the top of my list to watch for summer blockbusters. Nevertheless all your observations are all valid yet it is just disheartening (though not surprising) to here for frequent cinema-goer who is currently bored with what’s on right now.

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