Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Tales from a time when the toughest of transvestites ruled the seas.

Cunningly clumsy Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) meets his match when mysterious beauty Angelica (Penélope Cruz) forces the pirate to join her in search of the Fountain of Youth. Sparrow tries to determine whether Angelica is friend or foe while the riotous adventure sets him aboard a vessel belonging to the fearsome pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane).

This is the fourth “Pirates” film and features director Rob Marshall replacing Gore Verbinski, and I have to say that I was kind of missing him.

Now for this one, this goes back to the basics and focuses more on Captain Jack Sparrow, rather than 500 other character story-lines. However, although this isn’t as epic as the other ones have been, i actually kind of missed that. The first three featured all these sub-plots, all these kinds of things going on, all these minor characters, all the little jokes, and when they have to get to one place they have to stop at 10 places before it, and what this franchise does not need is a leaner Pirates film. This is the shortest film out of the four, and I have to say it kind of bummed me out considering that this was a lot more simpler than the others, and what made the others so damn enjoyable I thought, were the fact that they had so much going on and kept the energy going.

Despite this I still had a fun time while I was watching this. The script surely isn’t as funny as it would like to think it is, but there are a lot of nice little jokes and puns that we have all come to know and love from this series by now. Marshall also does a great job with giving a lot of great stylized action sequences that work so well, and will have you watching throughout the whole scene. There’s just this type of energy that Marshall keeps going during these sequences that just glue you in, and keep you on hold.

Everybody loves Johnny Depp as the iconic Captain Jack Sparrow, probably because he’s so good at playing him and here is no different. Depp hasn’t lost that comedic timing and that utter strangeness that just makes Sparrow a character to stand behind and laugh at. The writing for him wasn’t that good this time around because there are some escapes that Depp pulls off and plans he executes that are really just nonsensical and would never happen, but I felt that the writers got to lazy and just said to hell with it, because it’s Captain Jack. I wasn’t expecting much from Penélope Cruz here but she actually saves the film from being too much of a sausage-fest, and is spot-on as that funny and quirky, high-voiced, Spaniard. Ian McShane is also amazing as the evil, scary, and soul-congering Blackbeard. He really nails the combination of villianry and comedy that this role requires and he’s also got the voice like something that would come from the depths of hell. Geoffrey Rush is also here as Captain Barabosa, and does a great job of keeping his character funny, but also just a little bit menacing.

My main problem with this film is that it doesn’t feel like this had any real reason to be made at all, other than just a cash-grab at the summer blockbuster audience that this was made for. The first three all had significance and reasons to be made to continue the story, this one was just to see how much money a film could make with Captain Jack as the head-liner. I didn’t mind this but it just didn’t seem like anything fun, or as original as the first three did, and for once I actually have to say that I missed Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley for once. I don’t know why I would ever say that, but I feel that it’s as much as their films, as it is Depp’s. Maybe I’m just ranting like a crazy man, but this just didn’t do too much for me like I would have hoped.

Consensus: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides provides a lot of fun entertainment, and great performances from the cast to make this an enjoyable Summer blockbuster, but it just didn’t feel the same as the first three have, and although it’s a lot shorter than all three, the story felt a little too stretched for it’s own good.



  1. Nice background change Dan! Green is good. “They say geniuses pick green… Did you pick it?” 🙂 I am thinking of seeing this tonight but i have heard that it is pretty weak so not sure. Win Win is in too, rather see that.

  2. Good review Dan. I haven’t seen this yet but the mixed reviews do put me off. But Depp is great as Sparrow and seeing him doing his stuff for two hours does sound like fun.

  3. Good review, man.
    Apparently it’s nowhere near as bad as the ridiculous 3rd film. I will probably see it, but I’m not going to expect the thrill that the first film gave me, because I believe we’ve now seen it all before. Looking forward to Ian McShane and the fact that Snorelando Bloom and Ikea Knightly aren’t in it this time round.

  4. Love your opening sentence…you’re getting pretty good at those:)

    I liked the buddy buddy nature and was so glad they cut back on (as you say) the 500 other character story-lines. This still got bloated at the end but was still enjoyable especially how it left it open to so many stories ahead. Again its a movie from a ride and in that sense I thought it was fun and anything would be better than part 3!

    I know where you’re coming from but probably a second viewing will make you re think wanting Elizabeth and Will back…but after seeing Cruz, I think I’d be inclined to agree with you:P On the other hand, Blackbeard was really great but I think they spoiled a good thing in how they handled him.

    But I for one have always wanted to see a Sparrow origin story done Pulp Fiction style which features Barbossa and Sparrow crossover stories…but eh this is acceptable:)

    • This is some fun stuff and I have to say that the cast did a good job, it just didn’t feel like the other ones really. Thanks man!

  5. I agree that this movie was missing the “epic” aspects of the Verbinski flicks. I liked the set up for the next one– if they find the right director it could be A LOT of fun. You’re right about Jack, he lacked motivation in this movie and that’s what has been so great about the others is him doing things for his own reason and agenda. He was kinda along for the ride here. Still fun though.

  6. Very good review! I couldn’t agree more with Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane’s additions to the cast. I was skeptical at first, but they totally did the film justice. New director and it still had the great action sequences like the prior Pirates movies (Jerry Bruckheimer wink wink). I agree with your post on my review, that it didn’t come close the the impact of Pirates 2 or 3. However, for the first in a new trilogy it has potential to be even better if the future movies give us something a bit darker in the overall Jack mythology. Hypothetically, I think there is something up with Jack’s dad. That scene with him has me very curious. The next films have to get some better background characters too. Like you said not having Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley hurt this film a bit. But it’s time for a new angle anyway. Again, Very good review!

    • I think they need to get better background characters, and more story lines as well, because just having one story the whole time can drag on a bit. Thanks though!

  7. Hey Dan,

    Awesome review, some excellent points. I definitely gotta agree there was a lacking energy, it didn’t outright occur to me the need for additional character arcs. I’ll be honest though, I don’t miss the characters of Knightley or Bloom, their story was wrapped up nicely enough in my opinion. Definitely agree about McShane too, but I also felt he was underused in a weird way. Greatly enjoyable flick for sure, but there was a lot lacking which I forgave purely because I felt Depp was a complete save as Sparrow.

    I do miss not having other more interesting characters to follow, like Bloom and Knightley, and I feel in that way they missed on Angelica (Cruz) and Blackbeard not being more prominant or deep enough to get a feel for it. I didn’t nearly dislike Blackbeard enough to be glad he was dead, or like Angelica enough to be happy she survived. That Mermaid and Reverend story was rubbish in my opinion.

    • The mermaids thing was odd, but I have to say that I liked some of the new characters, and somehow still had a great time, just nothing special like the first three.

  8. I agree that this movie is purely for summer entertainment rather than continuing the story. For this reason, it turned out being great for me and a few of my friends who do not follow the series as closely as others. Great Review!

  9. Great review Dan! Interestingly enough we have the same general idea about the film, but differing opinions. I felt it had too much going on in contrast to the others with a more perfect balance. Mermaid stories, Blackbeard’s story, Barbossa’s story, Jack’s story, Penelope’s story, The Black Pearl’s story…all too much to follow, IMO.

    You are right though, Verbinski is sorely missed. A fun review to read sir…and an appropriate score!

  10. Great review. This was a fun movie (though many confuse my saying that with the assumption that I think the film is great, and ask me why I think that which just leads to a bunch of ridiculous yada yada yada). Anyway, I like your take on the film.

    And remember, how can a film be bad if it has hot flesh-eating mermaids.

  11. Hi there-

    liked the review. I especially agreed with two comments: your praise of Cruz who I was amazed not only held her own but even injected some life into a plot tyhat otherwise dragged a bit. I also want to agree with you on the “why was this film made at all” comment (paraphrased.) While it certainly was fun at times, it is nearly 4 years later and not enough to make it a reboot after what I can only believe was a dark spot on Verbinski’s resume. Also, loved the mermaids!

    Thanks again for your thoughts on my posting!


    • It really wasn’t a film that needed to be made, because it had no real significance, but I enjoyed myself none the less. And no no no thank you!

  12. I like this movie more than you… I disagree that the simpler plot here is a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing to me, because the previous films were so complicated with so many things going on, in the end I didn’t remember or cared about anything. Strangely, On Stranger Tides is my favourite of the Pirates series 🙂

    • Jeez! Well I’m at least glad you really liked it but for me I just wanted more here, and what I got was too lean for me. But otherwise a fun film.

  13. I want to start off by saying thank you very much for stopping by my blog and posting on my movie review of “Your Highness”. I enjoy the feedback. With that being said, this is a great review. I have not been able to see the new PotC: OST, but I feel like you’ve definitely given enough here to allow us to make our own decision while not revealing anything huge about the plot. Bravo. I will definitely be back to read more of your reviews.

  14. I enjoyed your take on the film. After the first one, all of the “Pirate” films have felt like they’re just there to make money, but I actually enjoyed the fourth one more than the third one.

  15. By the end I was missing Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley too! 🙂

    I would have preferred less characters and more background info to the ones that were introduced. The mermaids were a great addition to the franchise and could really have been explored a bit more. The same with Philip. This is the first time in Pirates history that religion has been introduced but Philip, is a very plain character. I would have thought Jack would have had a few things to say about religion!

    • The film could have been so much better but it was way too lean to be at all epic like the first three that came before it. Thanks!

  16. Yeah I agree with a lot of this. The craziness from the first three caused a lot fo complaints but now … it’s like the seas are too quiet now that we got what we want lol. No million subplots and schemes behind, in front of or diagonally and certainly no Bloom or Knightly. I really missed em actually. I liked Sparrow bouncing off people not actually being given center stage. Plus yeah there’s no threat in this movie, like the first three pretty set up that pirate kind was drawing to a close, either from East India Trading Company, Calypso, or the absence of Jack. We had stakes in and something or someone’s to loose. I don’t remember why Jack even wanted to Fountain in this one. He was just kidnapped I guess lol. Fine review, Dan, and thanks for the Limitless comment on my site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s