DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Rob Marshall
Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane , Kevin McNally, Sam Claflin, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Stephen Graham, Keith Richards
Writing Credits:
Ted Elliott (and story, characters), Terry Rossio (and story, characters), Stuart Beattie (characters), Jay Wolpert (characters), Tim Powers (novel, "On Stranger Tides")

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. Forced aboard the ship of the most feared pirate ever, Jack doesn't know who to fear more - Blackbeard (Ian McShane) or the woman from his past. Directed by Rob Marshall, it's filled with eye-popping battle scenes, mystery and all-out wit.

Box Office:
$250 million.
Opening Weekend
$90.151 million on 4155 screens.
Domestic Gross
$241.063 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Video Service
French DTS-HD HR 7.1
Spanish DTS-HD HR 7.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 136 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 10/18/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director Rob Marshall and Executive Producer Rob DeLuca
• “Bloopers of the Caribbean”
• “Lego Animated Shorts: Captain Jack’s Brick Tales”
• Sneak Peeks
• Bonus DVD


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 10, 2011)

After 2007’s At World’s End concluded the trilogy, I thought that this meant the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. However, with more potential profits to be made, one should never count out a franchise, so the series returned with 2011’s On Stranger Tides

The big change involves characters, as Tides loses Will and Elizabeth. Instead, it focuses on Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), by far the most popular personality from the first three movies.

In London, someone impersonates Captain Jack in an attempt to round up a crew to search for the legendary Fountain of Youth. Disturbed by the misuse of his bad name, Jack heads to London to find the faker and get that person to cease and desist.

Complications arise, of course, and the real Jack gets recruited by King George II (Richard Griffiths) to conduct his own hunt for the Fountain. This would pair him with an old foe: Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

Rather than join forces with Barbossa, Jack escapes and learns the identity of the Sparrow impersonator: his old lover Angelica (Penelope Cruz). She’s the daughter of the evil Blackbeard (Ian McShane), and Jack ends up stuck with the vicious pirate in yet another attempt to find the Fountain. Adventures await as all involved try to make it to the legendary site first.

Back when the first Pirates flick became a hit in 2003, Depp received most of the attention as well as top billing and an Oscar nomination as Best Actor.

All of which makes one believe Captain Jack was the film’s lead character, but I think that’s a mistake. Sure, Jack played an important role, but I think he was essentially a supporting part. The first movie revolved more around the Will and Elizabeth roles; I think Jack came across as a bigger factor just because Depp’s performance made him jump off the screen.

Given the character’s popularity, Captain Jack turned into a more substantial role in the two sequels, but Tides stands as the first in which he becomes the sole lead.

Sort of. While Sparrow gets much of the screen time, the movie seems to understand that he really doesn’t make for a good traditional leading man.

This means that instead of an adventure with Jack firmly at the center, we find a multi-tentacled beast with a mix of competing subplots. All of these aim in the same direction – the hunt for the Fountain – but we find narratives that involve Blackbeard and his daughter, Barbossa’s quest, a romance between a missionary and a mermaid (!) and Jack’s side of things.

All of it feels a bit random – and kind of desperate. The fact that the first Pirates film was so good remains a minor miracle; the second and third flicks weren’t as strong, but they managed to work despite a mix of flaws.

Flaws that often repeat in Tides, mainly due to the sloppy storytelling. At World’s End suffered from a truly rambling narrative, but it still managed enough spectacle and adventure to entertain.

Tides comes with another weak script but doesn’t compensate with much excitement. Perhaps the change in directors creates the problem. Gore Verbinski helmed the first three films, while Tides brings Rob Marshall into the director’s chair. Marshall came from the stage but his screen version of Chicago did well at the box office and received the Oscar for Best Picture.

Though Marshall showed some skill with musicals, he seemed like an odd choice for a big-budget fantasy-adventure such as this. The skepticism seems justified when I view the final result. While I don’t think Marshall does anything to actively harm Tides, he fails to bring much life or sparkle to the film.

This leaves it as a busy but essentially stagnant tale. The flick’s first act demonstrates its weaknesses. Tides digs into all sorts of big action sequences but none of them stick. They possess all the proper components to excite but simply lack a certain sense of creativity or dynamism. The action scenes throw a lot at us but don’t manage to really involve us.

Matters improve a bit as the tale progresses, but Tides remains disjointed and sluggish much of the time. It doesn’t help that the film’s attempts at romance flop. Although they’re two of the most charismatic screen actors at work today, Depp and Cruz show precious little chemistry, and the relationship between the missionary and the mermaid is a total dud; it slows the film and delivers pointless melodrama.

All of this adds up to the weakest Pirates film to date. The third act cranks well enough to redeem it somewhat, but it doesn’t make us forget the movie’s less involving moments. While Tides never becomes a bad flick, it doesn’t exactly make me look forward to a fifth chapter.

Footnote: if you hold out through the finish of the end credits, you’ll find a little teaser.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus C

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. As befit a recent, big-budget flick, the transfer looked quite good.

Sharpness always came across well. At no point did softness interfere with the presentation. The movie appeared concise and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and edge haloes were minimal. Happily, print flaws appeared totally absent, as I noticed no specks, grit or other defects.

I wouldn’t expect a pirate film to come bursting with dynamic hues, and the tones of Tides looked appropriately subdued. The movie displayed colors that fit within its setting, though – like the red coats of the British soldiers - and they came across as clean and well developed.

Given the atmosphere of the movie, blacks became more important, and the disc presented nicely rich and dense dark tones. Shadows were a bit heavy at times, though, as some low-light shots seemed more opaque than I’d like. Those issues were minor, however, and this was a strong image overall.

No complaints accompanied the excellent DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Tides. The soundfield was dynamic and involving. The various channels presented a surfeit of information that blended together with great clarity and smoothness. All elements seemed placed accurately within the environment, and these components moved neatly across and between the speakers. This helped create a good sense of place and made the action all the more engrossing.

Lots of action sequences brought out the strengths in the soundfield. The battles at sea added the best moments, but plenty of other elements stood out as strong. These used the surrounds well and created a lively, immersive piece.

I also found the audio quality to live up to high standards. Speech came across as firm and natural, and I noticed no edginess. Music occasionally risked getting submerged beneath all the action, but the score remained bright and dynamic nonetheless, as the mix depicted these components vividly.

Of course, the effects remained the stars of the show, and they appeared well displayed. The different elements sounded distinctive and clean, with no distortion or other issues. Dynamic range was excellent, and low-end seemed superb. Bass response always stayed tight and rich. Overall, I felt quite pleased with the audio.

Given the film’s prominence, Tides comes with a surprisingly small roster of extras. The main attraction comes from an audio commentary with director Rob Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at shooting the 3D version, sets and locations, cast and performances, various effects, action and stunts, characters and story, music and editing, and a few production areas.

The commentary starts slowly, largely due to the high level of praise on display; for a while, it feels like we get little more than happy talk. Though some of this trend continues, before long DeLuca and Marshall start to deliver a greater percentage of concrete info about the movie. That helps make it a reasonably good chat.

Bloopers of the Caribbean runs three minutes, 29 seconds. It shows a standard compilation of goofs and giggles. Nothing particularly interesting materializes here.

Next comes a collection of animated shorts called Captain Jack’s Brick Tales. We get five of these with a total running time of five minutes, 19 seconds. They’re cute but not much more than that, and they often feel like little more than ads for Lego.

The disc opens with ads for Cars 2 and The Muppets. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Phineas and Ferb, Disney parks, John Carter, and Treasure Buddies. No trailer for Tides shows up here.

A second platter provides a DVD Copy of Tides. This gives us a retail version of the disc, not a neutered version.

Four films in, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise stalls with On Stranger Tides. While the movie never becomes a bad piece of work, it lacks the necessary sense of spark and adventure to make it as much fun as its predecessors. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and audio along with a generally interesting audio commentary. Serious Pirates fans will probably enjoy Tides well enough, but it remains a disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6 Stars Number of Votes: 15
1 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main