Lots of folks, myself included, were surprised when a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie was announced. After all, the series was thought to be over with the third film, At World’s End, though the ending did leave open the possibility of another film continuing the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow. On Stranger Tides does just that, starting a whole new adventure that’s set in its own film. Granted you do have to have watched the first set of films to know about certain things and characters, but you can watch this one without having to do so, as you can get a sense of who’s who pretty well.
The movie starts off with Jack (Johnny Depp) captured while trying to rescue his first mate, Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally). He’s “asked” to help guide an expedition to the Fountain of Youth, which he’d set off to find at the end of the last film. Leading the expedition is his old nemesis Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), now a privateer working for the British Navy. Jack manages to escape, but soon runs into bigger problems: his one-time lover, Angelica (Penelope Cruz), who is also the daughter of the most ruthless pirate of all, Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Blackbeard wants Jack to take him to the Fountain as he believes it will help him avoid his destiny. The race begins with an adventure that includes mermaids, voodoo magic, zombies, and Jack Sparrow being his usual, wacky self.
The story for this one takes a different turn, not just with new director Rob Marshall taking over for Gore Verbinski. It actually takes some inspiration from the novel On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, though some plot elements are obviously changed to fit the story into the Pirates world. In any case, it still makes for a great movie, full of old-fashioned action and adventure just like the previous movies. Some might miss certain characters from the previous trilogy, most notably Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley), but their story is over, allowing us to shift focus on Jack and others from the series.
Another interesting new twist this movie has compared to the other films is the amount of historical elements added to the mix. We not only have Blackbeard, one of history’s most notorious figures (and played perfectly by Ian McShane, who really knows how to play a villain), as the main villain, but we even get an appearance by King George II (Richard Griffiths) and mentions of Juan Ponce de Leon and his search for the Fountain of Youth. Given the setting of the film and the main focal point of the plot, it’s no surprise they’d be there, but they help make things interesting.
Another great new twist is the relationship between Jack and Angelica. Giving Jack a love interest certainly makes things interesting, especially when said interest wants to kill him (no shock, really). In the previous films, we’ve gotten hints of Jack’s less-than-stellar past with women, and there was some tension with Elizabeth, though those were just minor things to either get some laughs or keep the story moving a bit. Here we get a sense of Jack’s past catching up to him and making things difficult for him, and we can enjoy watching Jack and Angelica go back and forth between wooing each other and trying to kill each other. And of course, you can’t help but think that Jack’s a bigger idiot than normal. Who else would be stupid enough to dump Blackbeard’s daughter?
Like many Disney releases, the video quality is nothing short of greatness. While the film may get mixed reviews the video quality will not. Its eye popping eye candy at its finest! The blacks are deep in depth while the brighter colors will damn near jump off the screen and hit you! 1080p Blu-ray at its best and enough to make ninjas stop and stare when on a covert mission. (Or whatever those sneaky guys in pajamas do!)
7.1 DTS HD Master comes blasting its way off the blu-ray disc through your speakers, sound bar, or whatever it is you got! The audio on this is insane, right from the chase scene at the beginning to the very end. POTC has always had plenty of chances for audio tracks to shine and On Stranger Tides is no different. Explosions galore help this one shine in regards to it’s audio quality. You wont be disappointed in this aspect.
Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides may get a higher score here in regards to supplemental features but that is because we reviewed the black slipcover version. ie. The 6 disc version. It includes the 3d version, 2d version and an extra BD disc with extra features amongst other things like dvd and digital copy. There truly is a ton of stuff on this set.
Disney Second Screen: Disney’s sync on second screen feature.
Audio Commentary with Executive producer John DeLuca and director Rob Marshall
Legends of On Stranger Tides with Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, writer Terry Rossio, Johnny Depp, Marshall and others from the cast and crew.
In Search of the Fountain: Extra feature.
Last Sail, First Voyage: Extra Feature.
Under the Scene: Extra Feature in regards to the mermaids.
Deleted and Extended Scenes: 5 extra scenes.
Johnny Vs. Geoffrey: Extra Feature.
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: A look at the game.
Bloopers of the Caribbean: Extra Feature of Bloopers.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has all the elements from the other films: action, swashbuckling, fantastic creatures, and best of all, the crazy antics of Captain Jack Sparrow (if you’ve seen any of the trailers, you’ll know what I’m talking about). If you saw and loved the previous films, you’ll probably like or love this one. Even if you haven’t seen the other movies (again, it would help), you still might enjoy it just because you like a good fantasy adventure film. Watch it and/or add it to your collection though it does seem that the film has gotten mixed reactions. However the blu-ray disc is superb in special features and video/audio quality.