Does ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ Hold Up at Home?

Captain Jack Sparrow is back! It almost seemed like it wouldn’t happen at some points, but you can’t keep a good pirate down. The release of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” on Blu-ray and DVD gives fans and moviegoers a chance to bring the movie home for further evaluation.

Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow is as funny and off-kilter as ever. Sometimes I got the feeling he was trying a bit too hard, but it wasn’t too distracting. You can tell he has a lot of fun playing the part and that’s really all that counts. Depp also does a great job of showing how confused Jack is with his own emotions and “stirrings” of love, as he puts it.

Many fans of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise probably feel that there are two important elements missing from “On Stranger Tides.” Those elements would be Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley’s characters. While this is a point that could be rightly defended, I honestly didn’t miss them at all. I never really cared for their characters anyway.

Penelope Cruz is obviously director Rob Marshall’s attempt at replacing Knightley; she accomplishes the task and adds a depth to the character of Jack Sparrow that we’ve never seen before. Missionary Philip Swift (Sam Claflon) seemed like Marshall’s attempt at replacing Bloom’s character of Will, and it works well within the confines of “On Stranger Tides.” You’ve got Philip’s “forbidden” love of a mermaid to compare to Will’s “forbidden” love of an aristocrat in the other “Pirates” films.

Two characters I felt were grossly unexplored were those of Captain Hector Barbosa and Blackbeard. Geoffrey Rush’s portrayal of Barbosa was still great, but it just did not seem like he was given as much to do as he should have been. Ian McShane as Blackbeard didn’t get to have enough fun and be as active as I think he should have been. Director Marshall did a great job quickly showing us his supernatural powers, but I think they were grossly underused. It would have been great to see some sort of huge battle between Blackbeard using his powers and Jack Sparrow, but it never happens.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” does leave a window open for a sequel. The producers and studio would be crazy not to. However, it didn’t feel like they already had a plan in place for two more before this one ever hit the screen like the last three. It didn’t feel forced.

The Two-Disc Combo Pack of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is pretty bare bones. You can tell the studio was rushing it out for the holidays. There’s audio commentary with Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca. We also get bloopers from the movie and the LEGO animated shorts titled “Captain Jack’s Brick Tales.” There’s the interactive Disney’s Second Screen, but no real featurettes or “making-of” documentaries.

Most moviegoers felt “On Stranger Tides” was the weakest entry of the franchise, but I beg to disagree. I found the film to be much easier to follow and a whole lot more fun than either “Dead Man’s Chest” or “At World’s End.” Both of those just seemed to lose focus and get caught up in a lot of senseless meandering. I thought the self-contained plotline of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” was easier to swallow and didn’t get bogged down trying to create something that could be stretched into several films.

More articles from Eric Shirey:

Original ‘On Stranger Tides’ Novel Paired with New ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Movie
‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ Action Figures and Blackbeard’s Pirate Ship Play Set
First 3D Trailer for ‘Star Wars: Episode I’ Attached to All Screenings of ‘The Three Musketeers’

Eric Shirey is the founder and former editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites and His work has been featured on Yahoo!, DC Comics,, and other entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, Brooke Shields, Gerard Butler, Brendan Fraser, Selena Gomez, and many more.

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