Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Blu-ray/DVD Combo Edition

The quest to find the Fountain of Youth is one that Captain Jack Sparrow has been on for three films now.  I know I, for one, am not getting any younger while all this is going on.  The fourth film is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  It was directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine) and it is a little bit of a departure for the director, who has built his reputation upon making musicals.  He has never directed a film with this type of action and grandeur before.  The costumes, elaborate outdoor scenes and action sequences can get away from even those used to being in charge of this type of film.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Public Enemy) is off to London to try to locate the person who has been impersonating him.  This imposter has been going around assembling a crew with the aim of locating the Fountain of Youth.  While doing this he gets in a little spot and is brought before King George II (Richard Griffiths – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The History Boys), who offers to pardon him if he guides an expedition and finds the Fountain of Youth before the Spanish do.  Leading the expedition is Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech, Shakespeare in Love), a man who Sparrow has tangled with in the past.

Jack finds out that the imposter is Angelica (Penélope Cruz – Volver, Vanilla Sky), a woman that he has had a past with.  She is the daughter of the notorious pirate, Blackbeard (Ian McShane – Kung Fu Panda, Death Race).  After a struggle, Jack is forced to become a member of Blackbeard’s crew and to lead them to the Fountain of Youth.  They are in a race against Barbossa and Sparrow’s former first mate Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally – Pirates of the Caribbean: Deadman’s Chest, Valkyrie), who memorized Sparrow’s map before destroying it.

Despite the fact that this is a sensational cast with Depp, Cruz, McShane, Keith Richards (tee hee), and Rush being one and all great actors, director Rob Marshall for some reason that I will never understand keeps them all rather separated.  They all spend very little onscreen time with each other and really the strength of the film is Depp’s ability to bring out the best in other characters with his zany Captain Jack Sparrow.  As a result no real chemistry is built up between Cruz and Depp and the chemistry already there between Depp and Rush is not taken advantage of.  When they are together the banter is funny and the action lively when they are alone the film falls flat.  The talented cast tries to do their best with the flat and sometimes baffling script, but even actors of this kind of talent are not able to make something of next to nothing.

Speaking of the script, the subplots are pretty useless and the maybe/maybe not romance between Cruz and Depp seems a little forced.  It was almost like the script writers were aiming on pumping up the film’s minutes, but it ends up being empty filler.  Filler and clichés does not a good film make. Definitely a summer blockbuster no brain power required type of film.

What is good about the film is the cinematography, sets, costumes, and special effects.  Mostly though, I was made grumpy while watching as the beginning of the film showed some potential. Then it never followed through on that potential.  The opening 20 minutes of the film with Jack and the mermaids is a winner with plenty of great visuals and typical Jack Sparrow humour.

Special Features:

-Disney Second Screen

-Bloopers of the Caribbean

-LEGO Animated Shorts: Captain Jack’s Brick Tales

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