The irrepressible Captain Jack Sparrow is back for more zany adventures in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth installment of Disney’s blockbuster franchise that began its existence as hit ride at Disneyland that went on to dominate your local multiplex, and now it’s looking to rule your Blu-ray collection in this incredible 5-disc edition. While most of the main cast returns for more high adventure on the seas, regular director Gore Verbinski has been replaced by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha), as have lovebirds Will Turner and Elizabeth, replaced effectively by Penélope Cruz as Angelica (Penélope Cruz) as the on/off again love interest, and Edward “Blackbeard” Teach (Ian McShane) as the central baddie searching for the legendary fountain of youth.
While it’s a fine yarn that longtime fans are sure to enjoy, it feels like it’s missing a certain spark that made the original trilogy so enjoyable, despite having some of the most memorable mermaids I’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s just franchise fatigue starting to set in, but even the ever-enjoyable craziness of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack feels more predictable than he should. That said, it’s still an entertaining adventure that’s better than most, even if it can’t live up to the lofty standards set by the three previous films.
Here’s what my fellow reviewer and scurvy seadog Chris Pandolfi had to say about the theatrical version, which originally set sail back in May. Check out his full review right HERE::
“The film features much of your usual pirate fare, including exotic jungle locations, drunken sailors, mutiny plots, treasure hunts, and dank caves littered with bones. No cannonball fights at sea, though. Then again, it would be pretty hard to beat the original film’s battle sequence, in which not just cannonballs but also candelabras and forks were fired at the Black Pearl. Visually, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has all the right ingredients. What’s missing is a plot that doesn’t require note-taking. Blink your eyes, turn your head for just one second, and you’re likely to miss something important. I also would have appreciated more honest and reliable lead characters. When you’re unsure about who they are and what they stand for even after two and a half hours, something isn’t quite right.”
The transfer of the film to Blu-ray is stunning, which is made even better with 3D. Scenes such as the swordfight between Jack and an impostor, and the thrilling journey through the jungle towards the end of the movie are really well done in 3D and make good use of the effect. The only problem I had is that a lot of the film is shot at night or in the dark, which throws off the 3D effect and makes things kind of difficult to see. But besides that, the picture is clean and detailed as you would expect from a Blu-ray. There’s plenty of action packed sounds to go along with the picture as well, as the 7.1 DTS HD kicks things into high gear on the seven seas with it’s crystal clear dialogue, sword clanging, and thunderous booms from cannon fire.
And what would a pirate movie be without a treasure chest full of HD special features? There’s audio commentary with executive producer and director Rob Marshall, as he goes into the details of making the film. There’s also some fun to be had with the “Blooper Reel” and a “Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean” short that follows the Lego adventures of Jack. “Legends Of On Stranger Tides” features some interviews and behind the scenes footage with the cast and crew members. “In Search Of The Fountain” shows us the inspiration of the fountain of youth premise used for the story, while “Under The Scene: Bringing Mermaids To Life” shows how the beautiful yet terrifying mermaids were brought to life through awesome visual effects. There’s also a production diary the follows the making of the movie, five deleted scenes, and many more small special features to explore.
While still entertaining on its own, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides lacks that certain spark of the previous three films, almost as if franchise fatigue is starting to settle in for the blockbuster series. Still, there’s plenty of treasure in the feature-packed 5-disc Blu-ray edition, as the fourth film comes home with a great transfer, spectacular 3D effects, and loads of bonus content that should keep fans busy long into the night. Johnny Depp is incredible as always as his iconic Captain Jack Sparrow – still the best reason to keep watching – and Ian McShane makes a great new villain as the legendary Edward “Blackbeard” Teach. Despite its shortcomings, fans and newcomers alike will want to batten down the hatches and set sail with their favorite characters one more time (in 3D), at least, until the inevitable fifth film docks at port.
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