'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'
(Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, et al / 2-Disc Blu ray+DVD / PG-13 / 2011 / Disney)
Overview: From Disney and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer comes all the fun, epic adventure and humor that ignited the original. Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. A tale of truth, betrayal, youth, demise - and mermaids! When Jack crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz), he's not sure if it's love, or if she's a ruthless con artist using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth!
Blu ray+DVD Verdict: He's baaaaaaaack! The first PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie introduced Johnny Depp to a much, much wider audience; as Captain Jack Sparrow, he was a wonder, cracking wise and kicking butt (often at the same time). CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL remains a family-friendly action/adventure classic. It's sequels ... well, in truth, ON STRANGER TIDES makes no sense. Okay? Should this surprise you then you're clearly in love with the wrong genre, my friend.
It's big and bold (though not nearly as much as its two predecessors, thank God), features some mediocre acting (Depp and Geoffrey Rush remain strong, and Ian McShane is fantastic even though his character is crudely drawn), a few genuine laughs, a few false laughs, a few failed bits of choreography, and a whole lot of fun. Maybe not as much fun as back at the beginning, when all of this was new, but you'll still enjoy yourself ... probably.
The plot? Something to do with Blackbeard (McShane), his daughter (Penelope Cruz; finally, a strong female character, or at least a strong female actress); Captain Barbosa (Rush) as a British emissary; a shirtless priest who falls in love with a mermaid (you think I'm joking, but I'm not); the fountain of youth; and a bunch of good pirates and evil British guys. Oh, and Keith Richards. Rock on.
If I sound sarcastic, it's because you just can't take this movie seriously, not even on its own terms. But trust me: ON STRANGER TIDES is, at the very least, a fun movie. Jack Sparrow is getting rather tired (I would much rather watch the first film on repeat), but Depp still has enough charisma to breathe a little bit more life into him. If nothing else, the visuals remain spectacular, the plot interesting enough for us to forgive the fact that it is so full of holes an elephant could waltz right through it, and the pirates still delightfully funny.
It could stand to be a little darker and scarier (the mermaid premise, as awful as it originally comes across, actually had some promise), but we're willing to settle for what it is. And that, at least, is worth a viewing or two.
I recommend this movie to fantasy, swashbuckling and action fans, but if you expect it to be of the same caliber as the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, then prepare to be disappointed. If you just want two hours of entertainment of the fantastical sort then this movie will provide that and do so fairly well. [FYI: This is not the only edition of the movie on Blu-Ray, but this is the best one to buy. The five disc set consists of The 3D Blu Ray disc of the movie, a standard Blu Ray edition, a special features disc on a REGULAR blu-ray, a DVD copy, and a Digital Copy of the film. So what's the problem? Well me myself, I do not own a 3D player, but I love special features on Blu-Ray discs and for DVD's, so I like to buy the edition where I can have all of my special features!] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Disney Second Screen
Bloopers of the Caribbean
Audio Commentary by director Rob Marshall
LEGO Animated Shorts: Captain Jack’s Brick Tales