The Way of the Word

15. May 2011

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean 4 – On Stranger Tides

USA 2011. Directed by Rob Marshall. Starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane. Runtine: 140 minutes

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is in London, and hiring a crew for a new expedition. When Captain Jack Sparrow finds out about that, he’s rather upset that someone is abusing his name. He has just found out who it is when he is shanghaied into that very crew — which turns out to be Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane). Blackbeard and his daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz) are looking for the Fountain of Youth. Just like everyone else, from the Spanish king to Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Jack’s arch-nemesis. And everyone thinks that Captain Jack Sparrow knows where it is.

I’m kind of torn regarding Pirates 4. On the one hand, I didn’t very much like it. On the other hand, I know exactly why: I’m too old for it. Pirates of the Caribbean is very much a children’s movie. If you’re under 18, you’re probably going to love it, for exactly the bits that seemed silly and contrieved (in other words: childish) to me. In that regard, it fails: while delivering the goods for the young target group, it forgets to add a layer for the adults. If you’ll compare recent animated movies like Despicable Me or Megamind, those had something for everyone to enjoy. Pirates 4 is only for children. Perhaps adults are supposed to marvel at the production values. It is, in a way, a pity, because Pirates 4 opens with a very clever and well-choreographed action sequence where Captain Jack escapes from the clutches of the king of  England. But it fades fast afterwards. There is still plenty of action, and a couple of scenes that might have been scary, but it is literally too bloodless to be effective.

Yes, Pirates of the Caribbean 4 is definitely aimed straight at children. In that, it falls short of the all-ages appeal of the first one.

Another problem is that the cast doesn’t bother to try to save the movie. Johnny Depp is by now so familiar with Jack Sparrow that he doesn’t need to wake up in order to play the part, and it shows. McShane’s Blackbeard tries his best to be menacing, but he doesn’t really succeed. There is no chemistry between Cruz and Depp, and their relationship doesn’t really hold water. Only Rush as Barbossa stands out. Rush chews his scenery with relish, and becomes the best thing about this movie.

The script is also rather careless. A bit more effort would have resulted in a layered all-ages movie instead of a pure childrens’s movie. And some plotholes would have required plugging. While there is a twist at the end that even I didn’t see coming, the ending had several problems. While some of it was predictable, there was one real “That character wouldn’t do that” moment, and the ending required ignoring some of the rules the movie set up.

Of course, this movie was in 3D. Compared to most, the 3D was not bad. Disney really knows how to do that. However, the 3D is in-your-face pointless, mostly it’s about objects being thrust into your face. You don’t lose anything by seeing this movie in 2D.

The final verdict? This one is difficult. As a movie for children, Pirates 4 is quite effective. As such, I render the

Verdict: recommended

For adults without children, it’s more difficult. Pirates 4 is better than Pirates 2 and 3, but that’s not difficult to accomplish. It’s not as much fun as the first one, though. For adults, I render the

Verdict: mildly recommended

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1 Comment »

  1. Pretty nice post about this movie Pirates of the Caribbean 4. I just came across your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really liked reading your posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you post again soon!

    Comment by rhed edler — 16. May 2011 @ 02:26


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