Pirates of the Caribbean 4 Review: Worse Things Happen On DVD

The Pirates of the Caribbean series has, at times, been difficult to get through. The first film was a fun ride with twists, turns and zombie pirates with the second and third bringing convoluted plots, poor characterization and stunning visual effects. Now we arrive at the fourth instalment with a new director, Rob Marshall, Johnny Depp playing the lead rather than the wacky support and a potential love interest for Captain Jack Sparrow in the form of Penelope Cruz.

On Stranger Tides sees Captain Jack go on an expedition to find the fountain of youth with ex-girlfriend Angelica (Cruz) and her infamous pirate father, Blackbeard (Ian McShane). It has been foretold that Blackbeard will meet his death at the hands of a one-legged man, a description that Jack’s old enemy Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) now fits.

The journey to the fountain of youth entails a search for items required to make use of the power of the magical waters: two silver chalices from a famous pirate and the tear of a mermaid. After an impressive siege of a known mermaid hangout, Blackbeard captures mermaid Syrena (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) who develops a connection with young cleric aboard the ship, Philip (Sam Claflin).

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Mermaids, Blackbeard and the fountain of youth! I hate to break it to you but this is by far the most tedious, the most meandering film of the series and the trouble begins with the script. Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio still haven’t been able to avoid the problems which also plagued the previous films, namely zero character development, tedious romances and too many double crosses to bear. Captain Jack simply isn’t equipped to take on the leading man’s role – he’s an unreliable scoundrel yet he’s the one taking us through this movie and even Johnny Depp can’t pull it off. Phillip, whose name you don’t learn until the last twenty minutes, is a wet blanket with no personality and his mermaid love interest, even less so. Blackbeard is apparently the only one who showed up when the writer’s were handing out interesting character traits.

On the other hand, there are some interesting scenes in the film but unfortunately they’re spectacle pieces involving heavy CGI. The attack on the mermaids is tense and exciting with a fresh look at mermaids and the fact that they can shoot seaweed from their arms. In place of the Black Pearl we’re now aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s infamous ship which has a few tricks up its rigging, including flamethrowers and a sentience which only the Captain can control.

In terms of the 3D, by this time I’m sure you will have made up your mind about how you feel about this technology in the cinema but the Blu-Ray 3D is quite a different experience. The picture quality is spectacular with perfect clarity, letting the 3D can really shine. The home viewing environment is a far more intoxicating experience than what you get at the local multiplex but this of course relies on whether or not you have the best quality 3D player available. If you’re a hardcore Pirates fan, a plain old Blu-Ray will suffice but no matter how high the quality of the image is, it won’t make this poorly written instalment any better.

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