Monday, May 23, 2011

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides

Yesterday, my wife and I went to see the newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, On Stranger Tides.  It's based on a pirate novel of the same name, just with the main characters mostly switched to the PotC characters, from what I gather.  I haven't read the novel, but I hear it's good.  Probably something I'll try to pick up soon.

The movie was really pretty good.  The previous sequel in two parts, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, were overall disappointing.  I enjoyed watching them, but they were quite a letdown.  Trying to stretch the Davey Jones plot over two films, and trying to wrap up the Will Turner/Elizabeth Swan thing (since they'd signed on for three films) during that overall story made it too loose, especially when they were hoping to make each also work as a standalone story. 

In On Stranger Tides, Disney/Bruckheimer did what they should have done, which is just make each sequel its own self-contained story involving the same characters.  There are references to the earlier events, but without the plot-logic hoop jumping of trying to tie in the Davey Jones stuff into the otherwise self contained plot of Curse of the Black Pearl

So we've got a true sequel here, rather than an attempt to turn a stand-alone movie into a self contained trilogy, and that's a good thing.

The tone of the movie is quite different.  It's still full of swashbuckling fun, but it's not quite as humorous as the previous PotC films.  Since a lot of the humor came from playing off Jack with Will and Elizabeth (and without Pintel and Rageti), they ended up with a really more subtle humor in the film.  That didn't bother me, but if you're planning to take the kids, there's not as much silliness for them to enjoy. 

The story was pretty good.  It seems a lot like a D&D adventure in a lot of ways.  The characters are in a race to find the Fountain of Youth.  There are the Spanish, Barbossa (who's now a privateer for King George), and Blackbeard.  They have to find it, but also figure out the ritual to make it work. 

I liked it.  It was similar enough to the earlier films, but was still its own beast.  I really wish Hollywood would make more sequels like this with various properties, rather than the quest to mimic George Lucas in everything.  Anyway, don't want to spoil things, but the ending sets up another sequel, which I'd expect in a few years.

[Saw it in 2D, if anyone's wondering.  And again, I can't say the experience was lesser not having seen it in 3D, but there weren't any scenes I could think of where seeing it in 3D would have made it more spectacular.]


  1. Huh. I had been expected this to be dire, but knowing they used elements of Powers' novel and your review has got me more interested. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Dennis. For me the jury's still out on whether I splurge cash on a trip to the cineama for this one, but you've got me leaning more in the "spend it" direction now.

  3. I reallyl iked Powers' novel but read it a long time ago so all I remember is that the main character there was an apprentice magician, and there was ship crewed by zombies, and Blackbeard was undead. I am looking forward to the movie 9I thought back when the first one came out that it might owe something to Powers too).

  4. Wow. This is not what I expected. This film has gotten poo flung at it all over the place. I'm kinda surprised you liked it. Me, I consider this a rental at this juncture. I'm not likely to drop the cash on it anytime soon. But lots of people seem to consider this to be the worst PotC film so far.

    From what I hear, the action and adventure aspects of the movie are good, but the plot and characters are a train-wreck.

  5. I really love the movie pirates of the Caribbean especially Johnny Depp. Congats to the team, they always entertain the audience. They deserve to be the box office movie.

  6. Dave--no huge plot twists in it, but no gaping plot holes, either. As far as characterization, Jack didn't act quite so crazy, but I just chalked that up to them basing many of his actions on the main character of the source novel. The other characters all had obvious motivations, a few had hidden motivations which were revealed later, and the plot derived from those character's motivations. From a screenwriting perspective, that's pretty good.

    It's not the best movie I've ever seen, but it's not terrible either.

    I think I liked it most because it had a good bit of adventure, and it WAS different from the other movies.