Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean 4 On Stranger Tides

Rated: M
Director : Rob Marshall
Starring : Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Kevin R. McNally, Sam Claflin, Geoffrey Rush
Running Time : 136 minutes
Release Date : 19 May 2011

When I heard that a fourth installment for Pirates of the Caribbean was in planning, I actually thought they were pushing it.  While the last film At World’s End was a let down, it wrapped things up nicely, even if we wished Orlando Bloom’s and Keira Knightly’s characters had stayed together in the end.  With those two out of the picture, can the recruiting of new director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine) sail this ship to victory?

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Set in some time after At World’s End, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) travels to London to find a person who has been impersonating him.  He eventually learns that the British are on an expedition to find the legendary Foundation of Youth.  They are being guided by Jack’s old nemesis Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), with the help of Jack’s former first mate Gibbs (Kevin McNally).

Meanwhile, Jack finds out that his imposter is his former lover Angelica (Penelope Cruz), who has been using his identity to recruit a crew for her father Captain Blackbeard (Ian McShane) to find the Foundation of Youth.  Blackbeard forces Jack to join him, Angelica and their crew and lead them to the Foundation before, not only Barbossa’s crew, but also the Spanish.

On Stranger Tides is merely just a spin-off to the POTC series with no seemingly plot-connection to the last three films which were chronicled as a trilogy.  Some roles seem to have been changed as Jack and Gibbs, who were allies throughout the whole series, are now playing for opposing teams.  You do get the feeling that they made this just to show pirates in 3D.

However, there is a reason why the POTC movies were so enjoyable in the first place – Johnny Depp.  With his cheeky, powerhouse portrayal of Jack, the movie never gets dull.  With him and Geoffrey Rush (the two main standouts of the first movie), all of the jokes land effectively.

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What makes this movie an improvement over the baffling At World’s End might be because this one contains less special effects (but don’t worry kids, there’s plenty of awesome action to be had).  Most of the magic comes from the actors strutting around in their pirate outfits with grit and humour and they do steal the show.

The love-hate relationship between Jack and Angelica and their back-and-forth dialogue is thoroughly entertaining.  Penelope Cruz isn’t given a meaningful role, but she is a welcoming addition.

The actions scenes are as always a blast.  Not just the sword fights (which I usually thought were nothing compared to guns and lightsabers), but also a rollercoaster sequence where Jack is escaping from the Royal guards through the streets of London, jumping from one moving horse carriage to another.

There are zombies, fire-blowing ships, and you’ll never look at beautiful, half-naked mermaids the same way again.

On the downside, the movie is too long by 10-20 minutes.  When you think it’s going to end, it doesn’t, and yet it ends at a point when you’re expecting to see more.  Pirates 5 maybe?  Possibly, but obviously for money rather than stand-alone reasons.

On Stranger Tides is not perfect but it is still damn good fun and it will surely please the fans.

Note: Be on the look out for the extra scene after the closing credits

Rate: 3.5/5 stars

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean 4 On Stranger Tides

  1. I’ve been too unsure about seeing Pirates 4 and your review has confirmed many of my suspicions… Might eventually give it a go though. Thanks for the entertaining read Richard!

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