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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides by Hans Zimmer

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer
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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Composed by Hans Zimmer
Disney Records (2011)

Rating: 5/10

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“ON STRANGER TIDES is a rare case where the score that was apparently written for the film appears to have been much better than what ended up in the film, while simultaneously the soundtrack which could have compensated for that error, ultimately fails with the over-indulgence of sub-par, uninteresting remixes.”

Low Tide
Review by Christopher Coleman
 


 

With PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END in 2007, it was thought that the franchise had done its “trilogical” duty. True. The film itself was a convoluted mess, but it delivered one of the most exhilarating film score experiences of the year and so, in that sense, the trilogy was concluding on a high note. Well, actually there was one other note on which the film proved successful. Let’s call it nearly 1 billion, worldwide notes. With all those notes in mind, when it was announced that Captain Jack would be back, it probably should have come as little surprise.  But where would the franchise go from the end of the world?

Four years later, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES would see the return of Jack Sparrow as well as composer Hans Zimmer. However, director Gore Verbinski would not be returning as the romantic tale of William Turner and Elizabeth Swann had come to an end. Instead, Captain Sparrow would now be the centerpiece of the story and this time director Rob Marshall would be calling the shots. The final result is a film that is more straight-forward than its predecessors, but in fact too much so. This fourth foray into this famous world of Disney lacked much of the grandeur, attention to detail, and fun of the first three. A race for the mystical fountain of youth with the likes of Sparrow, Barbosa, and the infamous Blackbeard would seem to provide a big enough splash easily increased, by a decent original score, into a tidal wave of a film. As it turns out, On Stranger Tides, is further evidence that the tide has been slowly receding since the closing credits of the CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL.

HANS ZIMMER returns to high seas hijinks, but this time his shipmates are the amazingly talented guitar-duo of RODRIGO Y GABRIELA. To reflect the inclusion of a Spanish armada and Sparrow’s love interest, Angelica Teach, incorporating the duo was a brilliant call. Most unfortunately, their creative contributions largely go to waste...especially as heard in the film. The soundtrack release itself does offer a better sampling of their work, but, as we’ll look at later, suffers from its own mixups and setbacks.

Aside from the expected Jack Sparrow and main Pirates theme from the trilogy, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES is built upon three main thematic elements: the Angelica theme, the mermaids theme, and the Blackbeard theme. Interestingly, the best of these three themes gets the worst treatment in the film. We get low-mixed glimpses of Angelica's theme throughout the film, but if you want to hear what it could have (should have) been listen to this wonderful guitar-laden tango by Rodrigo y Gabriela in track 2, “Angelica.” In “Mermaids” (5), we are first reacquainted with a mystical, vocal theme first introduced in AT WORLD’S END in “At Wit’s End” before we get full exposure to the haunting, female chorus singing out, what will be, the oft employed motif. Lastly, we have the film’s seriously under-utilized villain, Blackbeard. Bell tolls, slow tempo, guttural brass, and male chorus, clearly define Blackbeard’s theme (8), yet it can be distractingly similar to Zimmer’s music for the Kraken from DEAD MAN’S CHEST.

When it comes to the original soundtrack release, what makes ON STRANGER TIDES an interesting listen is RODRIGO Y GABRIELA’s contribution. In addition to the wonderfully delicious “Angelica” (2) piece, we are treated to tracks like “The Pirate that Should Not Be” (4), “South of Heaven’s Chanting” (6) and the superb “Angry and Dead Again” (9). It’s more than a shame that the score, as heard in the film, failed to capitalize on the amount of life and character these pieces contain.

Now this isn’t to say that this soundtrack release is faultless. In fact, it has a defect that severely impacts my final rating. The inclusion of seven remix tracks is simply deplorable. Yes. There have been plenty o’ remixes from the Pirates scores in the past, but those were relegated to albums of their own. Surely, there was enough original score to fill a CD, so the exclusion of such tracks for these remixes is a crime. One can only wonder if the combining of this amount of original score with this many remixes actually causes greater sales with, presumably, the target audience is widened.  My guess would be a big, fat, "nay."

Well it seems clear that the tide is going out on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but with over $1 Billion at the box office, who’d be surprised if there were another Pirates movie on the horizon? If we be subject to another adventure, let us hope that they are able to inject more of the Disney magic and adventure found in great supply in the first film. Also, let us hope, should Hans Zimmer (and guest) return, that their subsequent score finds adequate representation in the final mix of the film and on the associated soundtrack release. It’s hard to imagine that the tide could go out any further than it has here.  ON STRANGER TIDES is a rare case where the score that was apparently written for the film appears to have been much better than what ended up in the film, while simultaneously the soundtrack, which could have compensated for that error, ultimately fails with the over-indulgence of sub-par, uninteresting remixes.  As a result, my final rating likely doesn't reflect the quality of the score that was written for the film, but the shame that is its implementation and neglect on the original soundtrack.
 

Rating: 5/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Guilty of Being Innocent of Being Jack Sparrow 1:42  ***
2 Angelica 4:17  *****
3 Mutiny 2:48  ***
4 The Pirate That Should Not Be 3:55  *****
5 Mermaids 8:05  ****
6 South of Heaven's Chanting Mermaids 5:48  ****
7 Palm Tree Escape 3:06  ***
8 Blackbeard 5:05  ***
9 Angry and Dead Again 5:33  *****
10 On Stranger Tides 2:44  ***
11 End Credits 2:00  ***
12 Guilty of Being Innocen of Being Jack Sparrow (Remixed by DJ Earworm) 2:45  *
13 Angelica (Grant Us Peace Remix) by Ki: Theory 3:08  **
14 The Pirate That Should Not Be (Remixed by Photek) 6:26  **
15 Blackbeard (Remixed by Super Mash Bros & Thieves) 5:26  *
16 South of Heaven's Chanting Mermaids (Remixed by Paper Diamonds) 3:32  **
17 Palm Tree Escape (Remixed by Adam Freeland) 5:28  **
18 Angry and Dead Again (Remixed by Static Revenger) 5:49  *
  Total Running Time (approx) 78 minutes  

 

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