[ No Spoilers ]
Here’s what I think you should know if you’re trying to decide if you should go see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in the theater or wait for it on DVD.
If you only want to see the movie if they were able to recapture the magic of the first Pirates movie then don’t go see it. Pirates 4, actually this is Pirates 3 because I refuse to acknowledge that Pirates 2 even exists, isn’t nearly as good as the original. But they did manage to recycled the magic of the first one well enough to be quite enjoyable.
Is Stranger Tides funny? Yes, the audience laughed a number of times. You’re mileage may vary.
Is Depp, Captain Jack Sparrow, as good as ever? I’m going to have to say no. I think Depp had a blast doing the first movie – which accounts for part of the magic. He was doing something new. Something daring. Now he’s just doing his same old Jack Sparrow routine. Which isn’t to say he isn’t awesome. He’s just not magically awesome.
Is it worth seeing in 3D? Well I saw it in 2D because 3D gives me a headache and it’s hard as hell to take notes during the movie with those glasses on. But I didn’t see anything in the movie that made me think, “Wow, I bet this would be really cool in 3D.” So I wouldn’t bother with the cost and hassle of seeing it in 3D – it’s a hassle to see anything in 3D because you must get to the theater early and get seats in the middle of the theater or the 3D effect is diminished. Or at least it seems to be to me.
What about the rest of the cast? I think the only other performance worth seeing is of course Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa. He of course is fantastic and gets plenty of screen time. Penélope Cruz is good as Angelica. Not great by any means. Ian McShane was a good Blackbeard. I think he did as good as he could with the role given to him. Any shortcomings of his character should, I think, be heaped upon the writers. I dunno, he just wasn’t blackbeardy enough.
Here’s what I think of the Pirate movies. The first one was magical for two reasons. First, no one expected it to be any good and secondly, and more importantly, it was playful action done in a unique way with great acting. It’s like riding a roller coaster and expecting it to be just another ride but instead they have done something entirely new and novel that is unexpectedly great. Other rides come along and add this new great thing but all they can do is the same great thing over and over with minor variations. Everyone finishes the ride thinking, “That was good but no one has managed to thrill me the way that first one did.”
I certainly don’t think we should consider all the other Pirate movies a failure just because the first one was so awesome – except as I said, the second movie was embarrassingly bad.
Pirates 4 has plenty of fun moments and it’s certainly long enough at 2 hours and 17 minutes. The editing/pacing is done pretty well. There are only a few times that the movie seems to drag a bit. I thought the whole mermaid scene that took up about 10 minutes was about 8 minutes too long – but it makes a great peetime. 🙂