Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: On Stranger Tides
in 3D IMAX
Directed by : Rob Marshall
Running time: 137 min.
Release date: May 20, 2011
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Sequel, and Adaptation
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has now made its fourth installment. Based on the novel "On Stranger Tides" by Tim Powers and, in my opinion, reminiscent of the classic book and movie Treasure Island, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: On Stranger Tides adds more talent to the cast to extend its series run at the box office.
This film is presented in Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D, as well as in traditional 2-D and IMAX formats. Johnny Depp is still at the helm as Captain Jack Sparrow, but screenplay writers Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott add two new characters to this epic swashbuckling epic. Penelope Cruz portrays Angelica, the daughter of Blackbeard the pirate captain and an ex-lover of Captain Jack. Ian McShane plays the legendary Blackbeard who along with his daughter are in search of the island that has the Fountain of Youth.
As a characterization tactic, the quirkiness is pretty good. The reason for this is because a large chunk of the movie's plot development was left to the ensemble cast to maintain, which features fictional versions of historical characters such as King George II the ruler of the British Empire (Richard Griffiths), Captain Hector Barbossa the privateer for King George II (Geoffrey Rush), and King Ferdinand VI the ruler of Spain (Sebastian Armesto).
The story begins when Captain Jack meets up with Captain Barbossa in New Orleans, before they sail to find the Fountain of Youth together. However, Captain Jack's old love interest Angelica along with her father Blackbeard, the pirate captain of the Queen Anne's Revenge ship, seek to find the same island to use the Fountain of Youth for their own purposes. But as love/hate relationships have it, Angelica unwillingly maneuvers Captain Jack to board Blackbeard's ship and the adventurous voyage begins.
This adventure film has basically the same sort of high energy as the prior sagas of this series. With exotic locales, the story includes voodoo magic, zombies, and sorcerers attempting to entertain the audience. However, largely all of this fails because most of the major twists you see are whimsical. There isn't a huge amount of complexity going on. Overall, it's probably safe to say not a lot really happens in this movie.
The fantasy elements never feel comfortable. In fact, they were forced and contrived in the delivery of many scenes. At best, the plot and character development is merely interesting, instead of good. The chaotic sea battles, fights, escapes, and disasters provide non-stop motion, yet these elements are stale and saturated with irritating comic relief.
Regarding the humor in this movie, I found the light-hearted comedic sequences only partially consistent and deliberate in their timing to amuse and provoke laughter (with one-liners and jokes from Johnny Depp) by exaggerating situations, the language, action, relationships, and characters. The troublesome action attempts to describe various forms of comedy through cinematic history, including slapstick, screwball, spoofs and parodies, romance, and satire.
Yet, this fictional history epic costume flick aspect does excel in some ways, as it covers a large expanse of time set against a vast, panoramic backdrop. This legendary epic displays a host of imaginary, mythical, and "yes" - heroic figures, and adds extravagant settings and lavish costumes, accompanied by a spectacular dramatic scope and high production values.
Interestingly enough, although this big budget film includes a multi-talented award winning ensemble of actors, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides doesn't work well. I found the movie only imaginatively watchable, and it certainly doesn't rank with the best of this series. Still, it's enough to be merely entertained and who said that's really bad?
FILM RATING (C+)