Film / Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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On Stranger Tides (2011) is the fourth movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

The fourth installment (suggested by the novel of the same name, which was also an inspiration for the Monkey Island series) sees Captain Jack unwillingly joining forces with the notorious Blackbeard to seek out the Fountain of Youth, racing the English navy (led by Barbossa, who has turned privateer) and the Spanish (who have found a map made by Juan Ponce de Leon). The situation is complicated by the presence of Angelica, a woman from Captain Jack's past (who, unlike all the other women in his past, still seems to mean something to him).

This film provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: One of Blackbeard's zombified officers laughs at Jack's "Missionary's Position" quip. Which gives said Missionary the distraction he needs to help Syrena.
  • Adipose Rex: King George II is only seen to walk once. The rest of the time, he keeps his fat ass in his chair, and when Jack escapes and bullets start flying, his advisors deem it faster to just lift the chair and carry him away.
  • Affably Evil: Angelica shows signs of friendliness towards Jack.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Mermaids. While they seem to prefer to seduce sailors and lure them to their doom slowly, they have no trouble simply capsizing an entire English warship.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The fate of Philip. Syrena pulls him into the water, but we never find out what happened to him, though it was hinted earlier in the film that the kiss of a mermaid grants you immunity to drowning, in addition to the fact Syrena is clearly shown to care about Philip.
  • Anachronism Stew: Buckingham Palace in the 1700's apparently had electrical outlets and modern day A/C ventilation.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: During an escape sequence, Jack finds himself in a carriage opposite an older woman who looks startled and terrified. He leans over and nibbles the woman's ear, then ducks out of the carriage, to which she utters, "Is that it?" in a disappointed tone. Then finds out too late that he nibbled off her earring in the process.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Barbossa finally catches up to Blackbeard, he lays out the crimes for which he is placing him under arrest. It's clear he cares about the last one most of all.
    Blackbeard: My trick's up, is that it?
    Barbossa: Such crimes do include, but are not limited to, piracy, treason, murder, torture of the most heinous sort, including the brutal theft of one used, twisted, hairy right leg.
  • The Baby Trap: Angelica attempts this when Jack dumped her on the island.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: While the film goes to great lengths to preserve the illusion of topless mermaids, in several scenes Syrena's upper chest is visible, and the actress is wearing a skin suit (making the Godiva Hair potentially more sexual than just showing her body.)
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The preacher seems to think so, mooning over the mermaid's beauty and saying that she must thus be one of God's creatures.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Blackbeard is a voodoo sorcerer, and survives for many years past the battle that history records as his death.
  • Behind the Black:
    • The film has some issues with this in the early chase scenes. For example, there is a part where Jack is being chased down a set of stairs by several British soldiers. He reaches the bottom. The camera cuts to the soldiers who then reach the bottom and run down the hall. Cut to Jack hiding behind a table at the bottom of the stairs. Even given that the soldier closest to him in pursuit turned away for a second to yell for back-up, it's highly improbable he could have hidden there without the soldiers seeing him do it.
    • An even more egregious example occurs with the Spanish ships; nobody on Barbossa's ship notices them until Gibbs points them out, even though they're practically bearing down on top of them.
  • Big Bad: Blackbeard.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The mermaids—for such sexy, harmless-looking creatures, they sure are vicious.
  • Bridal Carry: When Syrena's box breaks, and she gains legs, Philip carries her. It's quite touching.
  • Call-Back: To Jack's "Have I threatened you before?" line from the first film. This time, he's asking King George II.
  • The Cameo: Judi Dench as the woman who expects Jack to ravish her.
  • Captain Obvious: Jack Sparrow escapes from a room full of guards right in front of King George II. His Majesty turns to Hector Barbossa, and observes: "He escaped."
  • Chandelier Swing: Jack does one during his escape from the palace.
  • Combat by Champion: Subverted; Jack suggests a combat between Barbossa and Blackbeard to settle the thing, and it seems it's generally received as a good idea, but two words by the would-be champions and the fight becomes a massive brawl as usual.
  • Continuity Nod: The judge as whom Jack disguises himself is named "Smith", which was the alias Jack used at the beginning of the first film.
  • The Corrupter: Angelica claimed that Jack was this towards her.
    Jack: You demonstrated a lot of technique for someone I supposedly corrupted.
  • Create Your Own Villain: In a villain to villain example, the "One-Legged Man" is a threat of Blackbeard's own making. By attacking the Pearl and forcing Barbossa to amputate a leg, Blackbeard gave Barbossa the motivation to find and kill him.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Syrena, doubly so considering what mermaids are like in this film.
  • Death Equals Redemption: As Jack says, maybe for Blackbeard. Angelica's mission is to redeem him, and he saves her life (inadvertently).
  • Determinator: Barbossa, explaining his dogged pursuit of Blackbeard.
    Barbossa: We were off the coast of Hispanola when we came under attack. No provocation, nor warning or offer of parley. We were peppered with cannon fire. And then the sea beneath the Pearl began to roil. The Pearl was pitching and yawing so violently and every rail and spar all at once began to creak—the rigging had come to life! Our own ship turned against us. Tangling the crew, wrapping them like snakes... and wrapping around my leg! But me arms were free and me sword was at hand. I am the master of my ship, not Blackbeard. I am the master of my fate, not Blackbeard! So I did what needed done... I survived.
  • Dirty Coward: Blackbeard suffers a horrible case of this. His fear of being haunted by "The One-Legged Man" drives him into seeking the Fountain of Youth to save his skin and doing whatever it takes to achieve his goal, even trying to sacrifice his own daughter.
  • Dirty Old Woman: The old lady that Jack fondles in the London carriage. "Is that it?"
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Actually based on a book with no connection to the PotC franchise beyond this movie.
  • The Dragon: Angelica.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Angelica poses as Jack because he was the only (male) pirate she thought she could pass for.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Philip towards Syrena, and Syrena towards Philip as well. She reveals that the reason she saved Philip during the mermaid attack was because she noticed that he was "different".
  • Equivalent Exchange: The fountain takes life from one to extend another's. However, the rate of exchange isn't exactly equal. The one on the receiving end gets the person's entire natural lifespan, regardless of their age or actual life expectancy, meaning that the recipient is going to get around 100 years from the deal no matter the sacrifice.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: George II is dressed in full regalia for a meeting with a dirty pirate.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • The zombified quartermaster of the Queen Anne's Revenge is never addressed as anything but "Quartermaster".
    • Likewise the gunner, though Gunner (or Gunnar) is an actual name as well.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • The cook, for being on watch and thus "failing" to prevent the mutiny, is forced to row out in a longboat until the Revenge turns his way and literally opens fire for several seconds. Then he gets blasted again for good measure.
    • Blackbeard's death—a whirl of water from the Fountain of Youth strips the flesh from his bones, all while he's still alive, conscious, and able to reach out for Angelica.
  • Fantastic Racism: The way that Blackbeard (and judging by the number of skeletons, numerous others that have gone questing after the Fountain) treat the mermaids. They even refer to her as "the creature" and revel in how cruel and torturous her suffering and death will be, going out of their way to make sure she'll die slowly and painfully rather than just letting her go after she has outlived her usefulness.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Blackbeard.
  • Femme Fatale: Angelica is very flirty and beautiful. Also the mermaids.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge has flamethrowers.
  • Floating Water: Near the Fountain, water defies gravity to drip up off leaves and stream upwards to a cave's roof, forming a portal to the Fountain.
  • Foreshadowing: "Captain Jack Sparrow" is recruiting a crew at "The Captain's Daughter." Guess who he she turns out to be?
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the river scene where Angelica grabs a snake and Philip realizes Syrena needs air to properly breathe, the snake is not, as most viewers would assume, a Coral Snake, a highly poisonous reptile, but one of members of a species known as the kingsnakes (likely a Scarlet King Snake or a Milk Snake), which are not. What's a handy way of recalling which snake is which? Red next to black, friend of JACK. Red next to yellow, killed a fellow. Might also qualify as a Genius Bonus.
  • Game Face: The mermaids reveal monstrous faces while underwater, quite unlike their beautiful visage above it.
  • Godiva Hair: Syrena the mermaid, fairly constantly. After all, she has no other clothing until Philip gives her his shirt.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Phillip Swift is a Good Shepherd who believes that everyone has good in them and can be saved by God's grace, and even attempts to reach out to Blackbeard admitting that saving Blackbeard's soul was "a good of a long-shot". As the film goes on, however, Phillip changes his mind and realizes that Blackbeard is evil beyond any hope at redemption.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Blackbeard's Last Words to Jack Sparrow are "Trickster!" and "Devil!"
  • Hilarious Outtakes: During the credits, a blooper of the scene where Barbossa removes his peg leg plays... except the peg leg fails to come off and Geoffrey Rush stays in character throughout.
  • Historical-Domain Character: The film features Blackbeard, with smaller appearances by King George II of England and some of his ministers, and a brief cameo by King Ferdinand VI of Spain.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Blackbeard has a crew composed of zombies made from his sword, and can bring ships to life. Contrary to popular belief, the real Blackbeard was not even the most cruel or violent pirate of his time. He was simply the most famous because of his use of theatricality to boost his fearsome image. In fact, there are no known accounts of him killing anyone who didn't aim to kill him first. If you kill people just to rob them, then the next people you attack are going to fight you, since they know you'll kill them anyway.
  • Hometown Nickname: The Spanish commander is simply called the Spaniard.
  • Hotter and Sexier: To the franchise and Disney in general; it's the very first Disney film to mention sexual content (though not in those words) in the MPAA's reason for giving it a PG-13 rating.
  • Idiot Ball: Scrum chooses to flirt with a beautiful-yet-deadly mermaid, ignoring the better judgments of his fellow men who try to stop him or ward the creature off.
  • Insult Backfire: After Jack tells Gibbs that he had feelings for Angelica (but still left her the first time):
    Gibbs: And you left her still. Oh, that's low.
    Jack: Thank you.
  • Interspecies Romance: Philip (human) and Syrena (mermaid).
  • ...In That Order: The mermaids will take you to the bottom of the sea, drown you, then eat you. Sometimes, however, they will do it the other way around.
  • Judicial Wig: The judge who sentences Jack (or actually, Gibbs being mistaken for Jack) at the beginning wears a wig sporting big, white, curly hair. The wig serves as a disguise too, since the "judge" actually is Jack himself.
  • Kangaroo Court: Strongly implied to be what Gibbs' trial was intended to be before Jack Sparrow posed as a judge and gave him a life sentence instead.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Theodore Groves attempts to claim the Fountain of Youth for England when the Spanish show up, only to be shot straight through his Union Jack.
    The Spaniard: Someone make a note of that man's bravery.
  • Left the Background Music On: Invoked—Scrum is playing a particularly authentic Spanish tune when Jack and Angelica dance.
  • Legendary Impostor: As the movie begins, there's a rumour going around London that Captain Jack Sparrow is hiring a crew. This comes as news to Captain Jack Sparrow.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: How Barbossa lost his leg—Blackbeard's magic sword caused a rope to wrap around it, and he cut it off to avoid being dragged to his doom.
  • Literal Maneater: The mermaids seduce sailors and devour them.
  • Logo Joke: The flag at the top of the Disney castle Vanity Plate is replaced with a Jolly Roger, the sky is foggy, the fireworks are replaced with cannon fire (or rather, just given a dull white color), and mermaids appear in the river that runs through the castle.
  • Love at First Sight:
    • Possibly between Philip and Syrena; Philip is certainly smitten with her beauty and Syrena later says that she could tell he was "different" from other humans.
    • The ending confirms the same for Jack and Angelica. Not that it stopped the former from ditching the latter, but Jack will be Jack.
  • Love Redeems: Angelica attempts this for Blackbeard, but he's a bad man.
  • Mermaid Problem: Averted. The mermaids are heavily implied to be mammals, not fish, given that they have lungs and need to breathe to live, and their tails are horizontal, which is indicative of aquatic mammals, not vertical, indicative of fish (not uncommon in media portrayals of mermaids, however—see Our Mermaids Are Different). They do appear to have scales. On top of this, the Mermaid Problem is solved by Syrena having her tail turn into legs when she is taken completely out of water, if only temporarily, possibly a Shout-Out to Splash.
  • Mexican Standoff: Jack Angelica and Scrum do this when they fight over the mermaid's tear.
  • Mission from God: As far as the Spaniards are concerned, God wants them to destroy the Fountain of Youth for being pagan.
  • Motive Misidentification: The Spanish aren't looking for the Fountain of Youth to attain immortality. They wish to destroy that place of pagan sorcery in the name of God.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Angelica, especially in that one scene of her and Jack rolling about on the deck.
    • Also, the mermaid Syrena, who is half naked for all of her scenes. In fact, all of the mermaids really, until they attack.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Philip, when he realizes that Syrena was pulling him to safety, not attacking him, when he captured her.
  • Named by Democracy: Phillip named the captured mermaid "Syrena" because he doesn't know her actual name to prove to Blackbeard that she is a person.
  • Naughty Nuns: Angelica was about to take her vows when Jack arrived. He was there because he'd mistaken the convent for a brothel. Honest mistake.
  • Near Villain Victory: Blackbeard actually came close to succeeding in his plan as the majority of the film and he was able to drink from the Fountain in the end. The only reason he failed to escape his fate because he accidentally drank from the wrong chalice.
  • New Old Flame: Angelica for Jack. Jack even admits that she's the only woman he's ever had actual feelings for.
  • Noodle Implements: Jack rattles off a number of these in his plan to restore the Black Pearl after Gibbs retrieves it from the Queen Anne's Revenge.
    Jack: We shall need a crossbow, an hourglass, three goats, one of us must learn to play the trumpet, whilst the other one goes like this. [wiggles his fingers]
    Gibbs: I know a man with a goat!
    Jack: Good. I can go like this. [wiggles his fingers again]
  • No One Sees the Boss: When Jack hears that Blackbeard never comes out of his cabin, and that none of the crew have really sees him, he believes it's this trope. However, he turns out be very, very wrong.
  • Not Me This Time: Jack Sparrow is believed to be trying to locate a ship to find the Fountain of Youth, as well as recruiting a crew. Turns out that it was Angelica, a former flame of Sparrow, disguised as him.
  • Not Worth Killing: When the Spanish ships sail by Barbossa's, they don't so much as spare him a glance, even though their numbers would have easily allowed them to sink his ship.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Jack proclaims "The ship is ours!". And then Blackbeard shows up.
    • Jack spots a swarm of mermaids attacking the ship.
    • Blackbeard upon being told he drank from the wrong chalice.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The Mermaid theme is suitably creepy.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: They're freaking spooky, and man-killers.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Blackbeard's officers are the Voodoo type; mindlessly obedient to their 'creator', with no interest in eating anyone. However, they also are impervious to being punctured by a sword and don't bleed.
  • Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Bonus points for using actual chalices. Jack tricks Blackbeard into downing the life-draining chalice under the pretense that it's the one that grants life, knowing he values his own life over that of his daughter.
  • Poisoned Weapons: The vengeful Barbossa coats his sword with tree frog venom, so if he so much as scratches Blackbeard he'll be dead within minutes. Unlikely as it may seem, this ploy is Truth In Television.
  • Power of Love: Blackheard makes an offhanded remark that mermaid tears shed out of love are "more potent" then ones shed from fear or sadness but any tear would work just as well so it's a downplayed trope.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Jack: "Oh I understand everything. Except that wig." Spectacular escape ensues.
  • Prove I Am Not Bluffing: Blackbeard tries to coerce Jack into helping him by threatening to shoot his love interest, who happens to be Blackbeard's daughter. When Jack calls him out on it, Blackbeard orders the Quartermaster to bring him six pistols, four unloaded. Jack gets the message fairly quickly. After he leaves, Angelica asks Blackbeard if he knew which guns were loaded. His answer is a not-very-reassuring "Of course, my love."
  • Record Needle Scratch: Even though the actual sound isn't used, the effect is definitely present at the end of the movie. Jack appears to be succumbing to Angelica's seduction, the music rises—and then simply cuts off as Jack says, "I gotta go."
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Jack relates the Real Life myth about how Blackbeard's body swam three times around a ship after being decapitated to Blackbeard, who doesn't deign to explain how come he's still alive.
  • Revival Loophole: After hearing a prophecy that says he's going to meet his end at Barbossa's hands, Blackbeard figures You Can't Fight Fate, and rather than trying to avert or avoid the prophecy, he starts searching for the Fountain of Youth so that he can use it to heal himself after it inevitably does happen. Unfortunately for him, Fate took that trick into account and sabotaged it accordingly.
  • Save the Villain: Angelica is poisoned in the climax, and Jack is desperate to find a way to save her since, despite being on different sides, he still loves her.
  • Screw Yourself: Jack kisses someone disguised as him.
    Jack: I've always wanted to do that.
  • Seadog Peg Leg: This wouldn't be a proper pirate movie series without at least one wooden leg. It shows up in this movie, attached to Barbossa. Kind of appropriate, since he's the most stereotypical (yarr!) pirate of the bunch.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Blackbeard heard of a prophecy that a one-legged man is out to kill him and seeks out the Fountain of Youth to save himself from death. However, this made two critical mistakes that allowed the prophecy to pass: He gave the one-legged man the perfect place to find him, and in doing so deprives him of his voodoo magic and ship.
  • Shown Their Work: A lot of stuff in this movie is very well-researched. For example, historical accounts of the real-world Blackbeard do mention him never showing his face to the crew, singeing his own beard to inspire terror, and possibly indulging in sorcery. They did get his flag wrong, though that was possibly an intentional change due to already having used a flag based on the real Blackbeard's in At World's End.
  • Soft Water: Jack leaps from a cliff into a bay and is just fine, though he does seek assurances from the fortune-telling Quartermaster first.
  • Spring-Loaded Corpse: Very nearly when Jack and Barbossa come across the skeleton of Ponce de Leon. Jack wonders aloud why the Spanish left his map while taking the chalices, reaches for the map himself—and the corpse turns its head to look at him. Barbossa mouths, "Don't touch the map!" Jack wisely decides to put it back.
  • Stab the Sky: This is apparently necessary to use the powers of the Sword of Triton (Blackbeard's sword).
  • Staying Alive: The film makes no attempt to explain how Blackbeard survived his historical death, simply leaning on the fact that he's a very mysterious and resourceful man.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Captain Teague. He and Jack toast, he points Jack towards the men he's looking for, Jack looks away, turns back, Teague is gone.
  • The Stinger: Jack's Voodoo Doll washes up on the beach right in front of the marooned Angelica.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Victims of the fountains are flayed by the water around it, reducing them to skeletons.
  • Suggested By: This movie is officially "suggested by" the novel On Stranger Tides.
  • Take That!: In-universe example regarding a dilapidated lighthouse with its whale-oil reservoir intact:
    Blackbeard: Can you make it work?
    Salaman: Made by the English! Let's not get our hopes up.
  • Tell Me How You Fight: Jack figures out it's Angelica posing as him when she uses a move no one else would know.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: Angelica and Jack fight each other in a room full of barrels in the beginning. The barrels are quickly utilized as potential weapons during the fight.
  • Treebuchet: Jack launches himself from palm tree to palm tree to get across the Spaniards' encampment and escape.
  • Trilogy Creep: The fourth Pirates movie of a promised three. This film's story is entirely new, however, and shares only three major characters with the previous installments.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Philip, who rushes back to Syrena as soon as he regains consciousness.... and thus rewards Blackbeard with Syrena's tear and gets her tied up to die.
  • Voodoo Doll: Blackbeard has one of Jack. After the Quatermaster tosses it in the ocean, it washes up on Angelica's beach in The Stinger.
  • Woman Scorned/Ungrateful Bastard: Angelica, whom Jack had seduced in the past and then stranded on a desert island. It gets even worse when Jack discretly gives her the chalice with the mermaid's tear rather than her dying father Blackbeard_ whose life was sacrificed for hers.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Jack and his first mate discuss this trope at the end of the movie. Jack feels that the thrill of death encourages one to live to the fullest. He also speculates he may live forever in history as the man who discovered the Fountain of Youth.
    Jack: It's a pirate's life for me; savvy?
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Blackbeard is prophesized to die at the hands of a one-legged man and this eventually happened despite Blackbeard's best efforts in reaching the Fountain of Youth to avoid this fate.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: When Barbossa makes landfall near the Fountain of Youth, he takes a squad to shore with him and calmly leaves the sailors on board the ship to be killed by mermaids.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: When Blackbeard compliments Philip's capture of Syrena with a hearty "Well done, sailor", this trope is written all over Philip's face, as well as My God, What Have I Done?.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanOnStrangerTides