Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Blu-ray Review

The Flick:

Just as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, On Stranger Tides is yet another Pirates of the Caribbean film that feels overly-long, but isn’t that part of their charm? Loud, roaring, swashbuckling adventures, On Stranger Tides features plenty of differences from the Gore Verbinski trilogy, making this film feel strangely (ahem) like a spin-off. Still, while director Rob Marshall (Chicago) is no Gore Verbinski, since this film isn’t as action-packed or epic in scope, Marshall wisely – and I’m sure many of you will disagree – places the film on cruise control, since it’s a formula that worked before, and continues to work.

We left the bloated At World’s End with our favorite pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow on a new quest for the Fountain of Youth, and as such, that is what On Stranger Tides follows. The film is a grab-bag of some good, fun ideas, and some confusing, boring ones. For the most part, the film is way more streamlined, thankfully, and easier to follow. There’s a few double-crosses – this franchise’s foray – and some great swashbuckling, something missing from the CG-overkill in At World’s End. The new characters, namely the evilest villain in all of Disney in Blackbeard, and his lovely, silky daughter played by Penelope Cruz, are nice additions to a franchise that lost its way of what it is original about: pirates.

When On Stranger Tides fails, it’s mostly because of superficial elements that gloss over more interesting things left unseen. Sometime after the last film, Barbossa lost his beloved Black Pearl and joined up with Her Majesty. Then there’s this prophecy that has sent Blackbeard running scared and hellbent to the mythical Fountain of Youth based on a one-legged man that’s rumored to kill him. These elements are told, not shown, and sound neat enough to actually build a movie on, yet screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio just keep the course, steady and true, of Jack Sparrow antics, cryptic musings from Barbossa, and continent hunting quests.

Essentially, as if I need to say it, On Stranger Tides doesn’t fix what Disney felt wasn’t broken, and for the most part, this is a sequel for the fans, who should be quite pleased. It won’t convert any who jumped of the ship in the sequels, but I don’t think it needed too. A sense of family fun is sort of missed here too, as I think Marshall as a director is more of a showman than a storyteller. The 3D is a nice touch, as dimensionality adds to the sets and locations. But if On Stranger Tides wanted to inject a new, fresh attitude in this series, it followed the wrong compass. As Keith Richards remarks, “Does this face look like its been to the Fountain of Youth?”

On Stranger Tides isn’t arrhh-ible, but it is a ride we’ve been on far too many times.

The Blu-ray:


The audio came in loud and clear and the video looks crisp and clean.

Special Features

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: A short look at the new animated movie. Worth checking out and great for the kids.

Disney Second Screen:  A really neat iPad app that lets you in on exclusive content.

There are a few other features that round out the disc, but over all not as packed as I’d have liked.

The Flick: Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Jon Peters

I love film. That is all.

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