Blu-ray Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The copy we had for review is the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2-Disc Combo Pack. The Blu-ray is available today, October 18, 2011.

A part of me truly wished that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides would bring back the magic of the first movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl. Sadly, this was not the case. When the first movie came out, we were on a fun adventure filled with a curse, pirates, and treasure. Dead Man’s Chest came out and introduced us to the very sinister Davy Jones and a quest to save Jack Sparrow’s soul. As for At World’s End, it was just as bad as On Stranger Tides.

On Stranger Tides tries to bring us on board another treasure hunt, only this time the gang is looking for the fabled Fountain of Youth. Gone are Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley, which I didn’t mind, since I thought their characters were annoying, especially when Elizabeth Swan was trying to deliver a speech to rally the pirates in At World’s End. Taking their place is the romantic subplot involving a mermaid and a missionary.

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) gets captured near the beginning of the movie. He is being sentenced to death, but the King of England decides that he should help England get to the Fountain of Youth before the Spaniards. Sparrow decides to escape anyway and meets up with his dad (Keith Richards), who only shows up for about a minute. He tells his son about the Fountain of Youth and how he’s hearing stories that Sparrow is looking for a crew to help find the Fountain of Youth. It turns out we have an imposter, and we later find out it’s Angelica (Penelope Cruz), Sparrow’s old flame.

Now the crew is headed off to find the Fountain of Youth. There really isn’t a strong reason for Sparrow to go on this hunt other than to have a story for the movie. In the first movie, he was looking for Aztec gold to help end the Black Pearl curse and to reclaim his ship back from Barbossa and his former crew. In part 2, he’s trying to find the Dead Man’s chest so that he can lift his debt from Davy Jones. In this movie, he’s on the hunt just because.

The ship that Angelica provides for the crew turns out to be the Queen Anne’s Revenge and belongs to the most-feared pirate of all, Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Blackbeard sounds like a promising villain for the franchise, but turns out to be completely lame. He has a special sword that can control Queen Anne’s Revenge. Wait what? He also hires zombie pirates and practices voodoo. There really isn’t any explanation as to how he got all these powers and where the zombie pirates come from. They’re just added for the sake of having the obligatory magical elements in a Pirates movie.

The only good thing about this movie is Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, and not even he can save the movie from spiraling down the ocean. Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa redeems himself later on in the movie, but feels like a big waste of time as a non-pirate. Newcomer Ian McShane and Penelope Cruz are okay, but their roles could have been a lot better with a better story. As long as the franchise continues to make a lot of money, you can bet your ass that we’ll be seeing Captain Jack Sparrow on another adventure. Let’s just hope who ever is attached to the next movie can bring back the magic of the first movie.

Video Quality

The movie boasts an impressive 1080p MPEG-4 AVC video transfer and looked really great throughout. The London scenes felt very saturated, but that’s the style that the movie was probably going for. You can really see the weird makeup job that Barbossa has applied to himself so that he looks more like an English gentleman. The jungle scenes are probably the most visually impressive during the whole movie, as the lush green leaves and background gives off vibrant colors and the crew’s clothing balances everything out. The movie in general doesn’t really wow us with anything special, but it gets high points for being very clear and detailed.

Audio Quality

The Blu-ray has a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. The movie itself doesn’t have many things that stood out for audio, but when it does, it really sounds great with clarity. The scene with Sparrow and Barbossa tied up in the jungle had some good subtle sounds, as you can hear the ambient sounds. The fire from the Queen Anne’s Revenge roars loudly. With Hans Zimmer composing, the score sounds as awesome as always.

Extras

The version we got was the 2-Disc Combo Pack that contains one Blu-ray disc and one DVD. It’s bordering close to being bare bones, as the only features are the Disney Second Screen, bloopers, audio commentary by director Rob Marshall, and the LEGO animated shorts. You’ll have to pony up for the Limited Edition 5-Disc Combo Pack to get all the good bonus features.

Movie Grade: D, Video: A, Audio: A-, Extras: D, Overall: C-

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