Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Captain Jack Sparrow is back and on the hunt for the Fountain of Youth, but first he needs to rescue his crewmate and friend from execution, which means venturing into the heart of London. Jack’s plan fails and he is caught and charged by the King with finding the Fountain before the Spaniards do. This is all despite the previous film being a finale for a series, even though it did offer a hint of future stories by placing Johnny Depp’s Sparrow on a small boat with a map to the Fountain of Youth.
The story only becomes more convoluted as it goes on, as apparently there is someone impersonating Jack Sparrow and looking for a crew. Depp confronts his double and discovers the impostor is none other than his never-before-mentioned ex-girlfriend, played by Penelope Cruz. Meanwhile, Geoffrey Rush is back, but his villainous pirate is now a privateer with a peg leg. The spot of chief baddie is taken instead by Ian McShane as Blackbeard, and though he seems perfectly suited to the role, he has been so much better elsewhere. Perhaps the ridiculous script dulled his usual relish for being dastardly.
A few other cast members return, including the always amusing Kevin McNally, but the new additions—like McShane—seem to be lacking. The usually excellent Stephen Graham is all-but-wasted in a poorly-written role, and Sam Claflin’s goody-two-shoes missionary is dire. The direction by Rob Marshall is adequate, but there is nothing to get excited about. The ship battles lack an epic feel, the out-of-place steamy scenes between Depp and Cruz are too long, and the fight between pirates and mermaids is dull, with too much CGI and not enough impact.
This is a film that smacks of money, in that it feels written as a cash-in rather than because it needed to be made. The mercenary nature of it, however, is undermined by the realisation that this beats the various Avengers movies as the most expensive film ever made—a title it retains a decade on from its release. This is, frankly, incredible, as it doesn’t look like it at all. The film feels cheaper than the previous instalment by a long way.
Really, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is an exercise in waste. Just because it could have been made, doesn’t mean it should have been made. In my opinion it shouldn’t have been. The huge amount of money spent on it would have been put to much better use making ten medium-budget films, but that’s not how Disney works, is it?