Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides – Grizzly Review

Painfully mediocre. That is how I first described Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides as the credits rolled. Not the worst movie ever, in fact, barely worse than the 3rd movie – but with less disappointment attached to it this time around. Maybe that stems from my low expectations, and because going in I had heard only negative things surrounding this latest installment. Either way, the movie felt a little stale to me. And I know I’m not the biggest Pirates fan out there, but I genuinely enjoyed the first movie, and I thought the 2nd one was alright. But they definitely seemed to get worse as they went for me. This newest installment though seemed to be little more than quick money grab by Disney. Hell, even the girl who came dressed as a pirate seemed underwhelmed…

Now, people will probably be quick to point out differences and tell me I’m an idiot, but this movie felt just like the others to me. Too much like the others. It was like having to sit through Iron Man II again. So, not being a huge fan of the franchise you might wonder why I trekked out to the theater for a Midnight showing. Well that is because of one man – Al Swearengen. Ok, well actually Ian McShane, but pretty close to the same thing. McShane’s turn as Al Swearengen on HBO’s Deadwood made me a fan of his, and I wanted to see my favorite TV bar owner pirating a ship and carrying a sword.

So McShane plays Blackbeard and Penelope Cruz his First Mate. All the other players of import you’ll already know from the earlier installments. Cruz’s character ‘Angelica’ of course has a past with Jack Sparrow, and as is the usual case with Jack, their last encounter did not end in his favor.

I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but what was mostly already known going in was that this movie would feature a race to the ‘fountain of youth’, and obviously everyone is hot on the trail of the mystical body of water.

To obtain the fountain’s gift of youth eternal however, one of the required items is the tear of a mermaid. This of course leads to the eventual capture of a mermaid. It is only the introduction of said creature that validates the presence of an otherwise (and still somewhat) useless character – Philip.

Philip is a missionary who certainly does not belong on the boat of Blackbeard, and who seems to be much braver than he is intelligent as he refuses to stop antagonizing the notorious Captain. Philip and the mermaid seem like weak and needless replacements for Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, as they are shoe horned in, and done so in fashion that made me actually hope they wouldn’t survive the story.

Our beloved Hector Barbossa returns as well, this time in the service of the King as he plots revenge on Blackbeard for taking both his ship and his leg. To see him in the King’s Navy seems weird, and they really make no attempt to explain why he is in his position except that he has assured the King he can find the fountain. Seems a bit weak to be handed an entire Naval Ship and crew…

 As everyone is searching for the fountain, to start it seems only Jack can locate it, however later in the movie it appears to be much less of a mystery for all involved as [SPOILER – they all find it at roughly the same time.] I won’t go into details as I’m sure that most of you will want to see the movie for yourselves, but I do have some critiques…

First, I felt that McShane was mis-used. His dialogue seemed weak and uninspired, for which I don’t blame him, it wasn’t a bad performance, I just don’t think he was given too much to work with. ‘The Pirate that all other Pirates Fear’ is the moniker he is given early on, but Jack, and more so Barbossa, don’t seem all that frightened by him at all. Those who do fear him fear more his sword, which apparently gives it’s owner some powers that basically nullify the real need for a crew, though this is never explained. Character was just a little on the weak side for my liking.

"I could've been cooler..."Secondly, the plot seemed hurried for a 137 minute movie, if that’s possible. I think perhaps they were just trying to cram too many story lines in at once. The Spanish Armada for instance, could’ve easily been written out with a few minor changes at the end, and would likely not have been missed. And because of the amount of things going on, they seemed to forget to explain a few things, like any of Blackbeard’s back story or how everyone knows the secret ritual required once you get to the fountain.

Overall, I didn’t hate it, but it had some problems. I’d give it 2.5 Bears and admit without McShane it might’ve been lower. If you’re a big Pirates fan though, you could probably expect to enjoy it more than me just based on attachment to the characters, I’d rank it almost on par with the 3rd movie…

Images: Disney, HBO

5 thoughts on “Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides – Grizzly Review”

      1. Well, the most crucial aspect is that this movie is the easiest the understand. There’s a Lord of the Rings esque story going on where they have to transport the item to the final destination. The plot of the first three movies were so complicated and bloated in the end I didn’t care about anything that was happening.


  1. I’m a huge fan, but I definitely agree with the 2.5 rating. The mermaid missionary storyline could have been completely cut out and I cringed every time they focused on it. I may have liked the movie more had I not been at a midnight showing where people laughed in an uproar at everything Jack Sparrow said when only half of it was chuckle worthy. Not to mention the moron behind me asking who Captain Teague was, with the person sitting next to her saying -“I thought it was his brother.” Epic fail on their part. I enjoyed it enough but definitely trailing behind Worlds End


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