BluRay/DVD Reviews

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

By • Nov 4th, 2011 •

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As to the technical quality of the BluRay disc, as the Disney logo comes up before the film, a splash is heard, and you feel as if you should have been wearing protective rain gear! Very strong aural work from all speakers erupt right away to let you know you’re not only for it, but that you’re in BluRay land. And then Hans Zimmer’s score kicks in. Much of the material is the Pavlovian theme-work that triggers Captain Sparrow’s shenanigans from the previous three installments, but they still stir the adolescent heart in the viewer.

New to this fourth flick in the series are Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane. And they’re good. But we’re waiting for the big reveal, which occurs after the first hour – the mermaids. An old Hollywood rule was that for an audience to be set up properly, something had to be mentioned three times. Sure enough, the mermaids are referenced at least three times before they arrive.

While we await the arrival of the deep sea femme fatales, Depp swaggers through the character he created, and Rob Marshall (CHICAGO – an odd but interesting choice as director) handles the material adeptly, but still there’s a too-familiar feeling to the action set pieces and clever character deceptions that are clearly emulating the franchise’s past successes and not straying too many frames away from them. And so it’s a little stale, and some of the jokes fall a little flat.

Then, in the second hour (I don’t count the ten minute end title sequence as part of the narrative, even though there’s a final bit of business after it that you might want to stick around for) the mermaids finally appear, and as if by magic, the whole film takes on a new energy and freshness. The mermaids are great, and the writers and actors rise to the occasion. Rarely does it happen that a film switches gear and starts to click that far into the game, but this one does. The second half of the film is really good.

Me personally, I like this one better than the third, but it equals neither the thrill of the first, nor the divine CGI effects of the second. Still, the series stays alive, and on the Larry King show recently, in a rare interview, Depp suggested that there would be more installments to come.

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