Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Film, Action and adventure
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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Far be it for us to accuse the Walt Disney company of making a fourth ‘Pirates’ movie strictly for the money. But the experience of sitting through this latest flogged cash cow in the already overexposed comedy adventure series feels more like tracking stock figures than watching a piece of family entertainment. Every frame feels laboured, every gag tired, every action set piece familiar, every performance phoned in.

Johnny Depp is back in the headscarf and eyeliner as Captain Jack Sparrow, whose search for the Fountain of Youth has foundered for no specific reason. Finding himself in London for no specific reason, he soon falls in with ex-lover Angelica (Penélope Cruz), who is masquerading as Sparrow for no specific reason. Together they set off for the fountain, pursued by Geoffrey Rush’s peg-legged Barbossa, who has joined the British navy for no specific reason.

‘On Stranger Tides’ is a film which seems so loaded with contempt for its audience that it expects us not to notice or care that the characters have no clear motivation, that entire scenes have no reason for existing and that for much of the film we don’t even know what continent we’re on. It’s a film where our heroes can escape a trap by simply pulling a lever and dropping through the floor, where a character can dive into a hole in the ground and pop up in an entirely different part of the story. A film, in other words, without tension, momentum or resonance.

For some, this may be a step up from the wilful psychedelic idiocy of ‘At World’s End’, the previous film in the series. But at least that had imagination: ‘On Stranger Tides’ is simply lifeless, a reductive, insulting moneymaking exercise with as much charm and depth as a slot machine.

By: Tom Huddleston


Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Wednesday May 18 2011
Duration: 137 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Ian McShane
Stephen Graham
Gemma Ward
Judi Dench
Penélope Cruz
Keith Richards
Richard Griffiths
Johnny Depp
Geoffrey Rush

Average User Rating

3.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:3
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It's not fantastic, but in my view Pirates 4 is a step up from the second and third in the series. It's a fun plot, populated by fun characters, in an overall fun package. It's not particularly believable (was it ever?) and at times you can see Walt Disney milking a cash cow in the background. But on the whole, there are pirates, mermaids and a rather pretty San Claflin, so I was happy!

Shame, Disney should have been satisfied with 1 & 2, 3 was far fetched and tedious & 4 was downright awful. Johhny Depp doing the same things yet again with a worn out script and tired samey antics. I can only hope he bows out now and doesnt get involved in a muted POTC 5, which would stereotype him ( wrongly) forever. Dont waste your money.

Johnny Depp brought the first POTC alive with the originality and scene-stealing charisma of his character, but now we're so familiar with it, his Sparrow schtick isn't really what this film needs to make it work. Geoffrey Rush nailed it as peg-leg Barbossa and was the best thing in the film for me, delivering exactly what a lame comedy-adventure-fantasy script needs to make it engaging for over two hours. Maybe he should have directed it?! or chosen the rest of the cast. Keith Richards' cameo was an irrelevant conceit: Jackie Chan and Jim Carrey, however, could have fitted in nicely and perked it up a bit...

To Scott.For those of us who enjoyed PotC4,I'm sure no one could have put it better,and you reiterate my thoughts on the "crtic"(?!).

in the minority again mr Huddlestone--------why do you hate movies so much?? its such a shame-- every one has an opinion for sure,,but to have a job that by its very definition determines that you must 'criticise' a movie(critic) leaves you disecting scenes and plots and characters---and in a Disney film !!!!!???? while the rest of us kick back ,munch our snacks and take in the experience--- just lighten up man--this is a pirate film !!!!! not the watergate scandal !!!!! those of you out there who go to the cinema to escape will enjoy this fun piece of cinema for what it is--MR H????? I empathise--when your passion becomes your job it sanotises the pleasure I'm afraid !!!!

I quite enjoyed this - it's much better than 2 or 3. The CGI in the last two spoiled them, and there's not so much of it here (or maybe they've just perfected it). But I saw the 2D version, and noticed that there were a lot of aerial shots flying over forests and precipices, and I thought they'd added them in for the 3D showings. I'm sort of fed up of 3D, and it annoyed me that live action films (that don't actually work very well in 3D) are being made with 3D scenes built in. All that happens in 3D live action movies is they look a bit dull, because the glasses are dark. I've only seen maybe three really good live action 3D movies - Superman Returns and a couple of Harry Potters, which I saw on an IMAX screen. You really felt you could reach out and touch the characters. Anyway 3D rant aside, I thought this was entertaining and what you'd expect from this kind of film.

It's the 'Royal Navy' not the 'British Navy,' for no specific reason.

Good entertaining fun. I saw POTC ! and missed 2 and 3. No it isn't as good as No.1 but it's still jolly good entertainment. No-one's pretending it's Oscar winning material. Johnny Depp is great, as ever, there are loads of laughs, and it kept me awake which is a rare feat these days. My friend and I came out of the cinema with grins on our faces, feeling like we'd had a good evening's entertainment. Ignore Time Out's cynical review. They've got a bee in their bonnet unnecessarily in this instance.

Tedious, unfunny and worst of all, boring. Depp is no longer a guarantee of quality (see The Tourist) and has clearly started doing sub-par films for the paycheque. I actually fell asleep for about 5 minutes (which I never do) so I think that says it all.

One man's meat,another man's poison.How do you know 'til you've seen it for yourself.Having said that I'm not a fan of sequel upon sequel.

I loved every minute of this latest pirate romp, and joy of joys, it is the first 3D film since Avatar (animations apart) where I haven't felt cheated by the bad quality of the add on later to rack up the ticket price 3D. The film was clearly shot and designed in 3D and has depth and colour that are missing from most "3D" releases and really impress. The story moves along at an impressive pace, and is hugely enjoyable. Pirates is right back on top form.

I can just about bare Knightly, same for Bloom...but both in the same film? No. So this is the first one of the 4 ive seen in the cinema (or all the way through) therefore I may be a little more tollerant than those who aren't fans but who have seen the other 3. ON THIS BASIS alone I found it to be reasonably entertaining (though far too dark) and lacking in too many "get on with it ffs" moments. But Id had enough of this romp by the time the credits rolled and wont be seeking out the others...all very remenisant of my first ever viewing of the "Fast & Furious" franchise a few weeks ago. Back to PIRATES 4, think "decent panto", don't spend too much on it & you should be OK. But like I said, its my 1st and last. 6/10

I watched this film last night & really enjoyed it, the TO reviewer points out many "no specific reason" for events / characters - Did you watch the film???? It was good family entertainment! Go see it.