Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Blu-ray Review

'He is a priest, she is a mermaid, there's is a love that was never meant to be, etc, etc.'

We're now on the fourth Pirates film which means, by all rights, that this offering should have ended up in straight-to-DVD bargain bins around the country. The fact that Rob Marshall's film not only managed to avoid this fate but also to take $240 million in the US alone is testament to the power of the franchise, especially when you consider that it actually adheres to many of the rules of direct-to-DVD sequels.

Gone, for example, are two thirds of the main cast (Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom), their plot threads and explanation of their whereabouts completely absent from the main narrative. The more cynically inclined could argue that, by the time we got to Pirates 3, no-one was really sure what was happening with them any more anyway, nor are most able to remember what did happen to them by the end of the film.

Their replacements in On Stranger Tides (a title which has little-to-nothing to do with the film) are, loosely, Sam Claflin and Astrid Berg├Ęs-Frisbey, although screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio have at least gone through the motions of attempting to disguise the parts as something other than direct replacements for Will (Bloom) and Elizabeth (Knightley). He is a priest, she is a mermaid, there's is a love that was never meant to be, etc, etc.

Of course, quite who moves around in the background is largely inconsequential. The undoubted star of the piece is, and will remain, Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow, who prances around with the same spring in his step he's managed since the first, still good, franchise outing. Depp hasn't lost any of his magnetism but Sparrow's appeal was tested in the overlong second film and awful third and here it is so again. There is only so much a star turn can do for a two hour-plus empty vessel, the entire plot of which concerns an anonymous and difficult-to-invest-in MacGuffin.

And so, the fact that this is the fourth film pretty much makes no difference. Like the last two this is less a film and more of a Pirates 'experience'. The plot is baloney, the side players (including Penelope Cruz' Angelica Teach) are uninteresting and the runtime is too long. People flock to it because the world is vivid and familiar, which, again, is to an extent still true, even if what happens within it fizzled out long ago.




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'Enjoying a film like this shouldn’t be such hard work.' - No Frame Of Reference

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