Review- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Penélope Cruz, Johnny Depp and Ian McShane in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Disney)

The Pirates of the Caribbean series has, in my estimation, run the gamut from being rather enjoyable to creating the worst film of a given year. What has been consistent, and you may even go so far as to say pervasive, in the series is that there has never been one that was the fullest possible realization of the narrative presented. Even in the enjoyable ones there have been very blatant issues holding it back. While being one of the better ones this installment is no different.

The beginning of the film, ironically when set on dry land, is quite entertaining. Full of action, humor and even a bit of intrigue. The former being in the guise of who is assuming Sparrow’s identity. It keeps a lot of this enjoyable energy throughout but its grasp on it becomes slippery as the film progresses.

One minor element, which I thought would be (and was thankful it was not) a point of elaboration, was the zombies. They were just sort of there, which is rare for zombies and I was thankful that it’s an affectation and not a distraction.

Speaking of affectations we come to Johnny Depp, who perhaps has more affectations in this character than in any other. Depending on the plot this character has been very hit or miss. The enjoyability of Jack Sparrow walks a tightrope in the sauntering, off-balance way Depp himself walks as Sparrow. Sometimes the narrative supports his goofiness and others it loses it edge and plummets: here it’s funny.

As a matter of fact a lot of the film is funny. The humor keeps this film ticking even through some of its major problems, which will be dealt with shortly. There is enough peppered in to keep it interesting for even the spectator most inclined to be disinterested.

There are many characters in the film and that does become a bit of a problem as a simple tale gets convoluted with a bit too much intrigue. The constant need the film feels to keep tabs on all them (at least for a time) makes it drag despite the comedic efforts of some.

This is just one of the factors that lead to the running time to balloon and the pace to suffer. The other being the romantic subplot which really comes from Philip (Sam Clafin), the abducted cleric who doesn’t serve a purpose other than to involve himself in this romance with the mermaid (Astrid-Berges-Frisbey) and inflate the running time. The relationship between Sparrow and Angelica (Penélope Cruz) is more love/hate or antagonistic than a proper love story and their fate is predictable after a certain point.

Oh, yeah the 3D. Um, don’t bother. Had I not seen it abroad for an absurdly cheaper price than I could watch it here I would’ve been peeved about paying 3D prices for that; rather ineffectual.

Overall, I did enjoy the film despite dreading it going in. So it gets a pass.