Yes, Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides— the fourth installment in the series based on the wildly popular ride at Disney Theme parks–may not have the freshness of the original. The flash and awe CGI effects have been toned down to make for a much more toned down movie. The good news however, despite being blasted by critics– the movie is still good, solid summer movie fun.
Summer Movie Preview: Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides
When the movie begins, Cpt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is in England, trying to free his good friend Gibbs, played by Kevin McNally– one of the few returning pirates from the original trilogy– from a death sentence, but Jack being Jack, gets himself captured. The King of England wants him to help track down the Fountain of Youth, which we soon learn that everyone is looking for– including the Spanish and the most feared pirate in the world- Blackbeard, who is played by Ian McShane. Turns out Jack Sparrow is the only one who knows where it is– or does he?
Despite his best efforts to avoid the Fountain of Youth journey, Sparrow finds himself lured onto Blackbeard’s ship by former lover, Angelica, the beautiful Penelope Cruz. Turns out she is Blackbeard’s daughter. Everyone has their own reason’s for wanting to find the Fountain– except Jack Sparrow, who for the first time in the series atually finds himself doing things without his own agenda.
Returning for more action is Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Barbossa is now peg legged and working for the King’s Navy as a privateer. He has his own reason’s for wanting to track down . Keith Richards also cameos as Sparrows estranged father, Captain Teague. Otherwise, the cast is pretty much fresh. Most people will be glad to know that there is no Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan love story to bog down the movie but also no Black Pearl crew– in fact, no Black Pearl at all. You’ll have to watch to find out why.
One of the biggest complaints after Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, was the over use of Computer Generated Characters and silly over the top and confusing plots. Exit Gore Verbinski, who directed the first three and enter director Rob Marshall (Chicago). Marshall gets the most out of the script, which features azombies (boring) and mermaids (wicked cool) on the way to the mythical Fountain of Youth. There is a rather forgettable relationship between a captured mermaid and one of Blackbeard’s prisoners, a clergy man who falls for the beautiful mermaid. They’re basically the Will and Elizabeth here except far less interesting.
The movie is loosely based– or should I say “suggested” by a book called On Stranger Tides and the only real downfall of the movie is it lacks the awe sequences like the Ghost Pirates of the first, the Krakken sequence of the second or the Maelstrom of the third. But people go to see these movies to see Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow and he is as good as always here. There is a bit more depth to him here, as you get the feeling he may be able to actually have feelings– but when it comes down to it he is and always will be Captain Jack Sparrow.
If you’re a fan of the movies, you will enjoy this ride as well. Yes, it’s not as fresh as Curse of the Black Pearl but it’s better than 2 and 3. The movie is fun when it needs to be and sets up a fifth adventure with some interesting plot points. It would great to see each film from here on out let a new director have a take on Pirates– imagine what Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy II, Pan’s Labyrinth) could do with these characters– wouldn’t that be fun? Be sure to stay tuned for an after credits scene, if you’re into that sort of thing.
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