"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
After the massively successful film trilogy that was "Pirates of the Caribbean", Disney decided they wanted to try and make more films in this franchise, cashing in on the glory and success of their biggest franchise. However, without the inclusion of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, the filmmakers were going to have to create all new characters and storylines to follow Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow on his new journey. What could have been a fun and exciting new adventure turned into a confusing and muddled mess that is perhaps only saved by Depp's once again stellar performance as everyone's favorite pirate.
When someone impersonates Jack and tries to assemble a crew to find the Fountain of Youth, Jack starts to investigate into who this mysterious person is. What he finds is that he is being impersonated by his former love, Angelica (Penélope Cruz), and she is trying to assemble a crew for her father, known as Blackbeard (Ian McShane). When captured by the evil pirate, Jack is forced to help them travel the seas in search for the famous fountain, navigating through treacherous landscapes, murderous mermaids, and much more.
Like mentioned above, Depp is great as Jack Sparrow once again. He has the same wit and charm that was present in the first three films. He's just so much fun to watch, and it's almost impossible not to crack a smile at almost every scene he is in. He does have pretty good chemistry with Cruz as they play off each other very well, but it doesn't seem like that for the rest of the characters in this movie.
With the exception of Jack and Angelica (as well as Geoffrey Rush's Barbosa, yet he is not in the film that much), it just seems like the filmmakers muddled their way through the rest of the characters. Sam Calflin's Philip and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey's Syrena are very underdeveloped, and we can't really fall in love with their characters or their romance. It just felt more like a filler storyline more than anything, and they seem very wasteful in the context of the movie.
At the same time, the character of Blackbeard is just a poorly developed villain. He is not that menacing or frightening, and he seems more whiny than peeved. He only cares about himself, and it's obvious that he is just going to kill anyone who gets in his way. This is different than those of Barbosa and Davy Jones, who have a personal vendetta against Jack and his crew. It makes the stakes seem very low and unimportant in this movie, and this is perhaps the only Pirates film that I know Jack will come out okay in the end.
The tone of this film is also just very different compared to the other films. Our characters are usually sailing the seas and engaging in fights with their enemies, but this film focuses more on our characters traveling through an island to find the Fountain. However, the cinematography is stellar and is able to capture the beauty of the island and wherever our characters go. So, while the viewer is robbed of on-screen time on the open ocean, we get beautiful shots of our characters navigating through the beautiful green landscape.
Even though the filmmakers were trying to give the viewer a new and unique experience, I don't think it necessarily works in the context of this film franchise. While it is still very entertaining and a lot of fun to watch Depp as Jack Sparrow once again, it's a bummer that the filmmakers weren't able to deliver a film that lives up to the expectations of the original three.