Captain Jack is back – again (for the fourth time!). In comparison to those before it, “Stranger Tides” isn’t great by the word of critics. But for those of us who aren’t looking for perfection, this really is a lot of fun. In fact, I think it may actually be my second favorite in this series, something that kind of shocks me.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) Film Review
His loyal first mate is in a boatload of trouble. This inspires Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) to devise a clever plan to secure Master Gibbs’ freedom. The only problem is, Jack is again without his beloved Black Pearl and a means of transport. But never mind! Just now he has bigger problems at hand. He’s again on the wrong side of the law when he escapes royal custody, and his audience with King George and his notorious enemy Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).
Jack is now busy trying to elude capture on the London streets as reports swirl that another is impersonating Jack Sparrow; the only man who can do this is Jack himself. Finally coming face-to-face with the person sullying his good name, he discovers that it’s Angelica (Penelope Cruz). She also happens to be an expert con woman and Jack’s former flame. Angelica and her father, the evil Blackbeard (Ian McShane), set out to find the Fountain of Youth, and since Jack is famed in the pirate life, Angelica sees to it that he’s is aboard their ship. Whether or not he likes it isn’t her problem. With Captain Barbossa on their trail, the race to find the fountain (and a mermaid’s tear!) is on.
Looking back on these, it’s almost as if filmmakers don’t know when to quit. Prior to this installment (yes, as usual I’m late to the excitement), I’d read numerous reports that this film isn’t all that memorable, so I did expect to be let down. Finally this past week on a rainy afternoon, I sat down to watch this. Imagine my surprise when this fourth part actually did sweep me away by its comical genius. Most people probably disagree, but Rob Marshall (a new director) and producer Jerry Bruckheimer along with the writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (each of whom have been with the franchise since the beginning) bring me back to the first movie The Curse of the Black Pearl. It seems like there were a lot of similarities – comparisons that reminded of the reasons I so “fell” for it in the beginning.
If ever Disney is unable to secure Johnny Depp, it doesn’t seem possible that these movies would continue. He is the only Jack Sparrow there is. The viewer laughs at his antics before fifteen minutes pass. He’s the kind of character who, even when he doesn’t intend an outcome, everything always works to his advantage. Plus, fans get to see him act as a judge this time around – wig, robes, cravat and all! I didn’t feel the loss of Elizabeth and Will as keenly as I’d convinced myself I would, and in their place we have a side-story romance in the form of a young missionary (Sam Claflin) and a dangerous, alluring mermaid named Syrena (Astird Berges-Frisbey). Prior to seeing this, I’d read a lot about the “mermaid sequence” and frankly, I do think it’s unique but also somewhat, silly.
The script is good with the right humor us laugh throughout. Cinematography is as grand as ever as is the familiar score by Hans Zimmer. Unlike the two titles sandwiched in-between this, On Stranger Tides is stronger than it’s given credit for. With a fifth film on the rumor mill, I would certainly be back for more. There is so many Jack Sparrow stories the writers can tell. I mean, really, who doesn’t want to go on another adventure with the just-on-the-edge-of-sane-but-eccentric Captain Sparrow? At this point, my confidence is (mostly) restored in this franchise, so let’s set sail for another one.
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CONTENT: there is some sexual innuendo, especially as regards Jack and Angelica. Supposedly Jack “sullies” her reputation when she’s still an “innocent.” There is voodoo doll of Jack that is tortured twice – these actions are physically felt by Jack. The most terrifying thing in the movie is the mermaid sequence. Once they have a person under their spell they “hiss” and “grow” fangs of a sort. Dozens of them attack a group of pirates and likely kill some. Swordfights are plentiful and numerous people die of gunshot or knife wounds; Barbossa fancies using poison to eliminate enemies. H*ll, bas*ard plus a few crudities are the extent of profanity. Pirates 4 is PG13.