When Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides came out this summer in 3D, I didn’t go see it. I loved the original movie and enjoy Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow character, but I felt burned by the last two sequels. When we were sent the 5 disc 3D blu-ray edition I put in my 3D disc, turned on my glasses, and hoped for the best.
Once again, we follow Jack Sparrow- as quirky and entertaining as ever- as he finds himself inadvertently drawn into a quest for the Fountain of Youth. Penelope Cruz plays Angelica Teach, a former love interest of Jack Sparrow’s and a welcome addition to the series Angelica has hooked up with Blackbeard, played menacingly by Ian McShane, to find the Fountain of Youth before Blackbeard’s prophecy of death comes true.
We aren’t sure of her motives when we first meet her, nor are we sure of her true feelings for Jack Sparrow. Jack is also unsure of her feelings and her motives but, as the only one who knows the way to the fountain, he realizes he must go along to regain possession of his beloved Black Pearl. Getting to the Fountain of Youth requires sacrifice, a mermaid’s tear, and a fair amount of swashbuckling along the way.
I was pleasantly surprised by Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. This movie worked because the director held to the spirit of the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie- borrowing much of the pacing from the first installment of the series: daring, humorous escapes, excellent swordfights with creative footwork and dangerous terrain, beautiful location shots, and some downright scary moments. (Spoiler: If your little ones are excited about seeing mermaids because they’re thinking of Ariel…you may want to send them out of the room when these mermaids are on the screen!)
While the plot had a few holes, the storyline was straightforward with relevant subplots allowing us to again see Johnny Depp interact with Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbosa, as well as introducing new characters who add to the emotional core of the film. I found Jack and Angelica’s backstory (what little they gave us) to be interesting and gave her an emotional edge the story needed.
Keith Richards makes another cameo in the movie and I love seing him and Johnny Depp bounce off each other. I appreciated the nod to the original Disneyland ride in a great scene involving Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbosa.
If this had been the second entry into the series, it would have kept me going to the theater to see the next ones.
I love 3D when it is done well, and this movie does it very well. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was filmed in stereoscopic 3D and it shows. The cinematographer took full advantage of some gorgeous locations and the dimension of the 3D adds to the scope and grandeur. There are some excellent “comin’ right at ya” shots- namely with Blackbeard’s sword pointing directly into the camera- that make the 3D fun.
Most surprising to me was how effective the 3D was in the first swordfight scene. Set in a confined area, the 3D served to enhance the physicality of the swordfight and brought me fully in to the center of things with swords swinging past and characters dodging obstacles to find their footing.
The quality of the color and brightness of the blu-ray was exceptional even in dimly lit scenes. On this disc, and The Lion King 3D, Disney has gone the extra mile to ensure a high-quality viewing experience, adjusting the brightness of the film to balance the dimming of the picture caused by the 3D lenses. The result is a 3D picture that is exactly as crisp, beautiful and amazing as in the 2D version of the film. This makes for a seamless 3D viewing experience.
This set comes with the 3D blu-ray, a 2D blu-ray with Disney Second Screen, a DVD, a digital copy and a blu-ray disc of bonus features. The bonus features are the usual behind-the-scenes videos, but they are all shot in stunning high definition and are worth watching. I particularly enjoyed the piece on the creation of the “Queen Anne’s Revenge.”
Disney Second Screen allows your iPad or computer to sync wirelessly with your networked blu-ray player. When the two devices sync, bonus content becomes available on the second screen in sync with the movie playing on the television. It’s a fascinating way to watch a movie- especially one you know well. (My wife had the opportunity to do this on an ipad and says the experience is even more fun and interactive with the touch screen!)
If you have a 3D television, the five disc blu-ray set is well worth the money. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has great 3D, excellent sound quality and captures the spirit of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. You get your digital copy for on-the-go and the 2D version with Disney Second Screen. This is a worthy sequel to the original Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl and number of features in the five disc set makes it a great addition to your blu-ray collection.
When John Calandro isn’t buckling swashes or dodging things coming out of his 3D television, he enjoys his role as husband to Mom Central’s Chief Mom Connector, Eileen and dad to their three boys.
Disclosure: John was sent an advance copy of the movie. The opinions and comments are his own.