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Blu-Ray Review: Boring ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’

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CHICAGO – When I heard that Johnny Depp had been sucked back into the cash cow that was the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise so shortly after everyone agreed that the series had run its course with the original trilogy, I was more than a little sad. Depp is still one of our most interesting actors and I’m not alone in wishing he would show a bit more of his range in recent years instead of taking easy roles (and, yes, Jack Sparrow is fun but this is not challenging work for the movie star). And the mediocre reviews caused a bit of dread when the Blu-ray showed up on my desk. So, consider it faint praise when I tell you that “On Stranger Tides” is, well, okay. It has moments but, like the last film, it drags itself out to a conclusion involving characters we don’t really care about in a plot with which we’re not invested. Depp and Penelope Cruz keep the movie watchable but the most remarkable thing about the blockbuster hit might be how forgettable the whole thing ultimately ends up.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 2.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 2.5/5.0

I think Disney know they have a bit of a snooze here as the Blu-ray combo pack is lackluster for a company that usually pulls out all the stops with extensive special features that just aren’t here. They have the “Second Screen” functionality that allows interactive bonus material for people watching the movie online and there’s an audio commentary with director Rob Marshall but the typical behind-the-scenes featurettes are missing and there’s not a deleted scene on either disc. Bloopers and LEGO Animated Shorts? That’s a pretty small list for one of the most profitable films of all time (the movie was a small disappointment stateside but made over a billion dollars worldwide, ranking #8 all time…the #1 non-Potter movie of the summer overseas).

Maybe Disney didn’t provide a large number of behind-the-scenes featurettes because the people involved in making “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” simply weren’t that interested in talking about it. I can’t really blame them. It’s not that the film is that awful but it’s just dull in its plotting, dialogue, and characters. There’s nothing here that feels fresh as the filmmakers recycle elements we’ve seen in the franchise before but with less personality. Cruz is the only supporting performer who comes alive as poor Ian McShane is tasked with doing something far too similar to the work of Geoffrey Rush and even Keith Richards. They all feel largely interchangeable and no one wants a summer blockbuster with an unmemorable villain.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” begins promisingly. Jack Sparrow (Depp) discovers that someone is masquerading as the infamous pirate and trying to get a crew together. Before you know it, he’s on a ship with Penelope Cruz (as a woman from Jack’s past who may be friend or foe) and traveling with Blackbeard (McShane) to find the Fountain of Youth. It’s remarkable how dull a story involving mermaids, one of the hottest women alive, a Rolling Stone, and Oscar-nominated actors can be but “On Stranger Tides” is just boring. It never develops a personality or rhythm. It’s not awful, just dull.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 18th, 2011
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 18th, 2011
Photo credit: Disney

Synopsis:
From Disney and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer come all the fun, epic adventure and humor that ignited the original. Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. A tale of truth, betrayal, youth, demise — and mermaids! When Jack crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz), he’s not sure if it’s love, or if she’s a ruthless con artist using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Forced aboard the ship of the most feared pirate ever, Jack doesn’t know whom to fear more — Blackbeard (Ian McShane) or the woman from his past. Directed by Rob Marshall, it’s filled with eye-popping action, mystery and all-out wit. Complete with a bounty of bonus features, this is one thrilling journey you won’t want to end.

Special Features:
o Disney Second Screen
o Bloopers of the Caribbean
o LEGO Animated Shorts: Captain Jack’s Brick Tales
o Audio Commentary by Director Rob Marshall

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” stars Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Kevin R. McNally, and Geoffrey Rush. It was written by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and directed by Rob Marshall. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 18th, 2011 and is rated PG-13.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Damon's picture

Pirates

Johnny Depp is one of my favorite actors, so of course I loved this movie. It was really interesting to see Penelope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean, but I do have to admit, she was awesome in this movie! I definitely plan on seeing it very soon! I am using the Blockbuster Movie Pass to rent this movie. What is fantastic about the Blockbuster Movie Pass is it gives customers a huge selection of movies, TV shows and games by mail, and they can stream thousands to their TV or PC! Since DISH Network (my employer) is also offering the Blockbuster Movie Pass, there are 20 channels that you get in addition to all the movies! Blockbuster also has many stores that you can go to and exchange the DVD’s at. This is all for $10 a month, which is awesome! I can’t wait to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides again!

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