Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean 4

May 22, 2011


Johnny Depp may never play anyone else as well as he does Jack Sparrow. Captain Jack Sparrow, to be precise. In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, he does what only Depp can do: make a Disney movie cool. Not that the entire film is about Depp, just the best parts.

It’s not about some ghostly-cursed pirates who took someone else’s gold, not about some ship-squeezing Kraken, not about some octopus-faced undead guy with no heart, but about Captain Jack Sparrow and his efforts to keep his hat, his compass, and ship. Unlucky for him, his ship the Black Pearl has been captured and placed, magically, in a bottle upon the dark and evil Black Beard’s ship.

So Captain Jack’s main quest is to recover his Pearl. In between the opening credits and the end resolution is this story with the returning Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), a new feisty damsel (Penelope Cruz), the afore-mentioned Black Beard (Ian McShane), some Spaniards, a swarm of deadly mermaids, and an evangelical fellow trying to save everyone’s souls. (Which of these doesn’t belong?)

The evangelist aside, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides may well be the sunniest of the Pirates franchise. After a compulsory review of the first three installments, I was very nearly pirated out. Happily, Number 4 held the promise of Penelope Cruz, and, as expected, she carried it as sensibly as she carried the baby with whom she was pregnant during the entire making of the film.

By the way, Cruz and Depp make for a much more charismatic couple than the former Elizabeth Swann/Will Turner match featured in Pirates 1-3. Blasphemy, I know, but Keira Knightley was getting to be so orange from all the self-tanner that Orlando Bloom couldn’t possibly fake liking her anymore. Besides, the two married in film number 3, and Disney writers know that all good stories end after marriage.

Returning to the Pirates franchise after a too-long hiatus is a sense of humor. With all the battle scenes in numbers 2 and 3, perhaps director Gore Verbinski just couldn’t squeeze any wit in. As director of the first three Pirates films, Verbinski jumped ship on number 4, leaving it to Rob Marshall, the guy who directed Chicago and Nine (both musicals). Thankfully, graciously, there is but a bit of singing in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Singing necessary to the plot, because, after all, how else do you summon those wily mermaids?

Even if one had managed to escape the ubiquitous Pirates phenomenon until now, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides stands on its own legs as a pretty well made movie, complete with a little cross-dressing, black magic, and, well, pirating!

This installment is more concise and direct than the former two, avoiding expeditions to the underworld and Singapore, avoiding intricate tales of woe and suffering, and instead giving people something fun and adventurous, which is what any film based off a theme park ride should be. See it for a few good laughs and because Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp are pretty.



  1. rogerfreberg says:

    Fun Movie… we enjoyed it the best of the other 3.

    Also enjoyed ‘the Tourist’… funny thing was… there was a scene where Johnny Depp was being chased along the crown of a rooftop… and he ran just like Captain Jack… I wonder how much acting was involved i playing the pirate. ;)

    Pirates… fun movie.

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  2. willie says:

    Pirates of the Caribbean 4
    We saw it at the Sunset Drive In
    Kids loved it, Adults found it enjoyably entertaining
    You will like it in one way or another.

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  3. willie says:

    My wife likes the Sunset Drive-in because its cheaper for a large group.
    We call all our children’s classmate and we group up and meet at the drive in.
    Many of the parents got it pat down with portable chairs, detached car sofas, snack chest.
    Although I like the drive in and group gathering, my daughter has expressed in confidence with me that she preferred the walk-in threatre. Either walk in or drive in is fine with me, my main pet peeve is the snacks i.e. quality of popcorn including the deal with refills, for my daughter if ice cream is available (downtown allows Jamba juice and other things into the threatre last I remember), the drive in has chili dogs and walk in do not.
    These things are really really important at least to me.

    (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
    • r0y says:

      I love the Drive-In! They have the best popcorn (if it’s fresh, that’s often hit-or-miss) of all the theaters! It’s also quite reasonable, as you mentioned. Unfortunately, our S.U.V. (big car) has a swinging-side-hitched rear door, so we can’t be as slick as some of those “lift-up” minivans and such.

      In fact, the last several movies we actually went out and bought tickets for were from the Drive-In. I don’t think I’ve been in an expensive walk-in for a number of years.

      I do like the small (1-screen) theater in AG, on Grand. I was really surprised at the comfy, modern seats. Best seats in the area; though, I have not been up to the new Atascadero Galaxy(?) theater. I like the concept of an “adults-only” lounge. When I am ready to splurge, I’ll check it out.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
      • willie says:

        I found out the secret to good threatre popcorn taste, they use coconut oil to pop the popcorn.
        I got some from New Frontier but haven’t tried it yet.

        (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      Love the drive in and the Fair Oaks (both owned by the same owner). The candy is expensive because that’s the only thing that they make money off of. I’ve read that they make very little money on the actual ticket sales.

      I don’t care for these pirate movies but as long as Johnny Depp in them it doesn’t matter. I could sit through anything he’s in. He’s sooo sexy, he’s hot even in his goofy pirate role.

      (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  4. r0y says:

    I’ll probably actually go to a theater and see this, if only for Ian McShane, who I imagine would be a great pirate! Al Swearingen on the high seas! If only it weren’t Disney…

    (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down

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