Could have been worse, in the sense that it's not as awful as Pirates 3, but not really good enough to tempt you away from all the much more fun things you could be doing, i.e. nowhere near as good as Pirates 1 and 2. Definitely evidence of barrel-scraping by the writers and certain proof that throwing money at something doesn't make it good. They should be forced to watch the new X-Men movie as many times as is necessary to see how it should be done. Can only imagine that Johnny Depp is putting his kids through college or similar; not even sloe-eyed Penelope Cruz can rescue this from the Don't Bother category.
Andrea Hopkins (DI Reviewer), 15/06/11
It is worth mentioning Judy Dench in this film... an added bit of class in a carriage. I suppose she is there because of Rob Marshall and the link with the vastly superior Nine, but this film was watchable in a way that Pirates of the Caribbean 3 was not, and for the most part, the 3d enhanced rather than hindered the action.
john spence (Unverified), 05/06/11
A very disappointing film, a thin plot too similar to the previous Pirates films. Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz played their parts well but I felt like I had seen it all before. The mermaids brought some much-needed sexiness to the film but overall it was a disappointment and I would advise you to give it a wide berth.
Marie The Minx (DI Reviewer), 30/05/11
Jack’s back. When the original trilogy closed At World’s End, a fourth outing wasn’t expected. But we’re On Stranger Tides. And while the other movies gave us pirate lore aplenty - ghost ships, krakens, doubloons and treasure - Tides can only manage mermaids and a peg-leg.
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and double-dealing seadog Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) return. But Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom do not. In their place are a French mermaid, a principled preacher and a sword-savvy Penelope Cruz. And a weak-willed hunt for the source of life.
Cap’n Jack Sparrow finds himself searching for his precious ship, the Black Pearl. First he must find the elixir of life alongside former amour, Angelica (Cruz) before Blackbeard himself (Ian McShane) and turncoat Barbossa get it first. But a mermaid’s tear and a couple of goblets are needed to capture the aqua vita.
A fish out of water and the fountain of youth, then, are the twin totems of On Stranger Tides. A freewheeling adventure certainly. But it feels forced, barrel-scraping even. The script, far from scintillating as it did in Black Pearl and Dead Man’s Chest slithers about like an eel in a bucket. And this is the improved version. Sure-handed director Gore Verbinski wasn’t available to film the fourth so Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, Nine) takes the helm. Strong on action and choreography – as his previous films show – he handles the energetic movement well.
And there’s action aplenty. The mermaid siren-song cum night-attack is the film’s high point, an edge of seat frightener. And a Greenwich cart-chase with flaming coals is impressively staged. But it’s a film with more troughs than peaks. Cameos come and go: Depp gate-crashing a dame, Richard Griffiths overdoing his Mr Dursley Harry Potter caricature, gurning embarrassingly as the King. Penelope Cruz cuts a dashing figure as Depp’s femme fatale and is a perky foil for his wayward Sparrow. And Ian McShane’s biker-boy Blackbeard is a villain the Brit was born to play.
But Astrid Berges-Frisbey and Sam Claflin provide the film’s heart as the captured mermaid and her love-struck suitor. What could have been a maudlin mess actually comes over as genuinely affecting pas-de-deux thanks to Berges-Frisbey’s piquant presence and Claflin’s muscular Christianity. Going for broad laughs and regular action, the rat-a-tat pacing keeps things moving. But it’s a pale imitation of the franchise’s former glory.
Neither fresh nor fizzing, it’s enjoyable enough. Filmed entirely in 3D and in some eye-popping Hawaiian locations, it certainly looks great. But the golden glow has gone. Depp’s widescreen swagger gets far less room to rock and roll than before.
Glenn Watson (DI Reviewer), 17/05/11
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