Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Movie Review)

If I take the time, trouble and considerable physical effort to brave the hazardous wilds of The Zombie Serengeti (aka The Walmarts) in order to get a DVD, I’m sure hoping that the result of the cinema safari is going to be worth the risk to life and limb.

(Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)

It was with a cost-benefit analysis in mind that I picked up a copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. This  despite the fact that a dear friend, damning it with false praise, said the movie was ‘mamish OK.’ [1]

Three things propelled me toward viewing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides… Ian McShane as Blackbeard.

‘Aha!’ the more astute of you might exclaim! Ian McShane as Blackbeard is only one thing. Nothing could be farther from the truth, my little geeks and nerdlings. Firstly, I love Ian McShane as an actor. I thought he was great in Deadwood and have been a huge fan ever since. Secondly, I have been fascinated with and intrigued by the pirate Blackbeard (real name, Edward Teach, c. 1680 – November 22, 1718) since I was a mere tot. I cannot imagine any movie matching in a significant way his actual real-life exploits. And thirdly, the thought of Ian McShane portraying Blackbeard quite simply made me dizzy with anticipation.

(Ian McShane as Blackbeard)

So, pourin’ meself some hearty grog, I lay me a course and set sail for Stranger Tides. Aarrr!!

OK, here’s the deal, as per the Disney blurb…

Johnny Depp returns to his iconic role of Captain Jack Sparrow in an action-packed adventure. Crossing paths with the enigmatic Angelica (Penélope Cruz), he’s not sure if it’s love – or if she’s a ruthless con artist who’s using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” the ship of the legendary pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn’t know whom to fear more: Blackbeard or Angelica, with whom he shares a mysterious past.

Mayhem ensues when… well, pretty much when the film starts, basically. That’s the thing about this movie. It’s wall to wall, stem to stern mayhem. The movie is simply rife with sword fights, rescues and escape scenes! Action sequences abound. (I particularly like the mermaid encounter. Very nice!) And it’s loud, too.

(Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow)

And then there’s Ian McShane as Blackbeard. He truly stands out. He is so imposing. So strong. So evil. McShane’s portrayal fails to disappoint, although I would have liked to have seen the movie show even some of the exploits of the real life Blackbeard, Edward Teach.

My two cents… OK, so the dialogue is not the greatest and the plot could use some help and I could never really figure out the relationship between Capt. Jack and Angelica. Picky, picky, picky. This is a Hollywood pirate movie. Suspension of disbelief is part of it. And, to some extent, suspension of standards. This isn’t the best of the Pirates franchise. RottenTomatoes.com gives it a 33% but if you remember my Rotten Tomatoes Evaluation Translator, anything that earns between the high 20’s and upper 30’s on their ‘freshness scale’ is probably something I am going to like!

(One of On Stranger Tide’s mermaids)

Bottom line… Definitely worth a look. And also worth my foray into the dreaded Zombie Serengeti. I liked On Stranger Tides. I didn’t love it the way I loved the first Pirates movie. None of the sequels is as good as the original because it was… well… the first one. Things were fresh and new and exciting. On Stranger Tides is exciting at times and there are a few fresh and new things but on the whole, while it keeps up with the sequels it doesn’t quite match the original. And that is true of so many sequels. This one should not be held to any higher standard.

One and a half scary mermaid fingers up!


[1] Mamish (Hebrew & Yiddish) meaning ‘literally’ or ‘really.’


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