Review by C.J. Bunce
When Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales hits theaters in 2017, the tenth largest money making movie franchise will give fans its fourth sequel. Usually the fifth film in a franchise is so far from the spirit of the original that it fails miserably. But the last Pirates entry, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, was such a visually stunning production with–more importantly–an interesting story that it could be the Johnny Depp-led franchise may just be hitting its stride. The first of the films released on Blu-ray 3D is a showcase for the home viewing technology, and is worth another look, especially if you only saw it in the theater on 3D or just the DVD version.
Still derived on the amusement park ride and the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow, the role that earned Johnny Depp one of his best actor Academy Award nominations, On Stranger Tides kicks up the film’s action compared to the prior two films, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. In part because director Jerry Bruckheimer branched out and borrowed the film’s story from an award-winning novel by Tim Powers (1987’s On Stranger Tides), this new film is simply better all around. Except for some scenes that could stand to be edited down, On Stranger Tides is nearly as good as the original Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) end up on the same side, facing off against the classic pirate John Teach aka Blackbeard (Ian McShane), and his daughter, played by Penelope Cruz, as they seek out the legendary Fountain of Youth. Along the way they must pick up a mermaid’s tear and a pair of special goblets, allowing for a young romance to form between a kidnapped mermaid (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) and a soldier (Sam Claflin). Surprisingly for Disney, they take a new direction with their mermaids here, and we get to watch some fierce swimming beauties plucking the ship’s crew off one by one and pulling them to their deaths in the deep.
Taking full advantage of the 3D technology, the film offers plenty of twists and turns and those great action sequences you’d find in the Indiana Jones series. Sweeping sequences of ships at sea, swashbuckling swordsmen, pirates swinging from ship’s masts–these are the things you want in your escapist 3D adventure. Vistas of tropical locations may even be the best part for their incredible clarity and color, but you’ll also find a dose of those 3D tricks that will have kids reaching for the screen, like the occasional sword point and a skeletal hand reaching out into the audience.
Get Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides on Blu-ray 3D bundled with standard Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy here from Amazon.com. Note: the digital copy is still practically useless for TV streaming until Disney films can be used with an app like Flixster or Ultraviolet. Both the standard Blu-ray and DVD contain bonus content including an interesting feature on the actual ship used in the film, deleted and extended scenes, an interview with Depp and Rush, “making of” featurette, fountain of youth and mermaid featurettes, and the DVD also contains a blooper reel and LEGO Pirates adventure.