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    May 23, 2011

    MOVIE REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

    PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (PG13)

    Genre: Action/Adventure/Comedy
    Release Date: 19 May 2011
    Running Time: 137 minutes
    Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
    Director: Rob Marshall
    Screenplay: Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott, based on Tim Powers' "On Stranger Tides"
    Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush

    Plot: Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush returns as Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Hector Barbossa, where both will be working together to find the Fountain of Youth. On their journey to find the illusive Fountain of Youth, they have to battle their new nemesis Captain Blackbeard played by Academy Award winning actor Ian McShane, while actress Penelope Cruz will play as Blackbeard's daughter and Captain Jack's love interest.

    Review: "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" is the fourth movie in the lucrative Disney's tentpole that based itself from one of the theme park attraction. This time, it borrowed some elements from Tim Powers' "On Stranger Tides" which is a 1987 historical fantasy novel that tells about the journey of its main character to search for the Fountain of Youth. Indeed it is but before seeing this, I thought I was a little saturated with the franchise now. After seeing it, I am officially in a stage of been fatigue of the franchise as it does not offer anything fresh in terms of concepts. Hence, if you expecting this to be a return to its original's fun and enjoyable swashbuckling, you could be wrong. Perhaps, only mermaids and zombie are fresh enough to punch a hole in this one.


    On the fourth outing, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) travels to London to locate a person who has been impersonating him. The impersonator has been actively recruiting crews to search for the legendary and mystical Fountain of Youth. However, during an attempt to rescue his former first mate, Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally), he is caught and brought before King George II (Richard Griffiths). The king intends to have him to guide an expedition under the command of Jack's old nemesis, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to locate the fountain ahead of the Spanish armada. However, Jack escapes and discovers that the impersonator is Angelica (Penelope Cruz), his former lover and the recently found-daughter of Blackbeard (Ian McShane).

    Blackbeard forces Jack to join his crew on Queen Anne's Revenge to find the Fountain of Youth wile prophetically acknowledge that a one-legged man will kill him. While Sparrow is forced to join Blackbeard for the search, Gibbs joins Barbossa's crew after he destroys Sparrow's map to bargain for an exchange of life from hanging. Angelica reveals that the Fountain's water must be drunk from chalices once belonging to Juan Ponce de León, and that one chalice must contain a mermaid's tear. Whoever drinks the Fountain's water with the tear will absorb the previous and remaining years of the person drinking from the second cup. Knowing this, Blackbeard heads to Whitecap Bay, where he traps a mermaid that a captive missionary Philip Swift (Sam Claflin) later names Syrena (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey).


    On superficial, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" maintains the fun-factor on several occasions only. The fantastical desire for some swashbuckling action is always present in the hours-long journey but may get to some disappointment as there lack of tidy in its executions, less gripping and always falls off on unnecessary manners. So easy to say, it comes a little way off from the best we have seen in the first three movies but the movie managed to wrestle in hardly some great actions and goofy dialogues at most of the time. One of those good points in the movie has to be Johnny Depp's timely and ruthless portrayal of Jack Sparrow. He is always been plucky and ruthless. When his character combined with Barbossa or Blackbeard, the movie comes to live. They play opposite to each other's characteristics and it certainly cements some interesting clashes. The other good point is that the side story between Philip and Syrena looks impressive, believable and reminiscences the romantic story between Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Kiera Knightley) from the first three movies.

    It seems like the good points run out quite fast here. It is unfortunate because the fourth film failed to set itself free from yet again the same mistakes they did in "Dead Man's Chest" and "At World's End". It becomes a little formulaic and in some scale fails to match the epic feels. The convoluted and thick plot again possess some troubles here. For instance, the easiest argument when Angelica revealed that she is Blackbeard's daughter continues to purge the audiences with its unintended to get things pretty complex by making audience unsure if she is telling the truth. That same argument is then shot down when she seems to have a play on her own by suggesting her father should died, but again her notorious plan to deceit died off again later. For sure, it is one of those complex stuffs that make things difficult to digest and also deem unnecessary. Perhaps the same can be said about the multi-back stabbing acts that all the characters are demonstrating. It is not as worst as "At World's End" for that matter but it is still pain-stacking annoying.


    The pace is intensely uneven because the audiences are served with somewhat interesting opening sequences, but dampened down with tepid and lazy plot in the middle act. The closing stage makes no interesting offer to greatness of swashbuckling adventure, rather staying close down to not so inspiring ending. The ending lacks of proper monstrous action and it feels disappointing at every turns it tries to offer. Like I always said, the film becomes only a little interesting if Sparrow is set up against Barbossa and Blackbeard - and also the story between Philip and Syrena! It is also unfortunate that the movie offers no connection to its past even when it plays down as a true sequel, besides the lack of surprise throughout the movie. However, in the end of the day, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" is not a terrible movie, it is just lukewarm and slightly below the average on it fails to perform as good as we hope for.

    On the side note, please avoid the movie in 3D. The 3D does not enhance your viewing experience and it makes things even worst. The standard problem of profound 3D movies - dark, lack of depth and unimpressive; are visibly if you watch this in 3D.

    THE RATING:
    Story: 3.0
    Casts: 3.5
    Cinematography: 4.0
    Effects: 4.0
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 13.5
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