‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ review
Having seen the previous 3 Pirates of the Caribbean films, I was always going to want to see the latest film in the series to see how it compared. Rob Marshall took over from Gore Verbinski as director to deliver Captain’s Jack Sparrow’s latest adventures on the high seas.
‘On Stranger Tides’ focuses on the competitive battle to find the Fountain of Youth. The fountain has the power to transfer the remaining years of life from 1 person to another. To do this the fountain’s water must be drunk using 2 chalices, 1 containing a mermaid’s tear.
Jack Sparrow, after rescuing his friend Joshamee Gibbs from certain execution in London, has got his hands on a map that can lead him to the fountain – making him a very useful commodity.
The Spanish fleet have also found clues to the whereabouts of the fountain and set off from Southern Europe in large numbers to find it.
The British forces find out about this and desperate not to be shown up, hire Captain Barbosa (one of the few characters to make it into the new film from the previous trilogy) to lead a ship and beat the Spanish to the fountain. We find out later that Barbosa is really spurred on by revenge to track down and kill Captain Blackbeard, the pirate who stole the Black Pearl and contributed to the loss of his leg.
Barbosa may get what his want, as Blackbeard has received a supernatural vision of his future that states he will be killed by a one-legged man.
Desperate to avoid this grisly fate, Blackbeard sets his sights on finding the 2 chalices and utilising the magic of the Fountain of Youth to extend his life. Blackbeard’s daughter Veronica (Penelope Cruz), who we find out has a romantic history with Jack, manages to capture Sparrow and take him aboard her father’s ship as a member of the crew.
After failing in his attempts to overthrow Blackbeard as the captain of the ship by orchestrating a mutiny, Jack’s life is threatened and he is forced to comply with Blackbeard’s requests. Blackbeard then goes on a ‘scavenger hunt’ against the clock, trying to get his hands on the 2 chalices and a teardrop from a beautiful man-eating mermaid.
The film culminates with a 3-way battle between all of the 3 interested parties at the fountain itself. I won’t spoil who wins!
My 2 cents
The Pirates of the Caribbean series of films has always provided good family entertainment and the swashbuckling nature of pirate life will always capture the imagination of audiences from a variety of age-groups.
Johnny Depp is, as we have come to expect, amazing as Captain Jack Sparrow. A charismatic and energetic performance ensures that he steals every scene he is in. His rapport with Angelica was also successful and the sexual tension between Depp and Cruz far exceeded that between Depp and Keira Knightly in the previous pirate films.
Geoffrey Rush was great, reprising his role as the salty seadog, Captain Barbosa. Ian McShane looked menacing as Captain Blackbeard, but sadly despite obviously lacking any form of real morality, the character never really became the menacing presence I feel a villain in such films should be. His reliance on the supernatural was never really demonstrated beyond rope tricks on his ship.
Shot against beautiful Jamaican islands, the film provided the perfect environment for the characters to perform their expertly executed action sequences. In my opinion though, the film relied too heavily on these sword fighting scenes, which I know is an odd statement to make about a film about pirates. I think a running time of 2 hours and 17 minutes helped make these stunts a tad repetitive, with maybe a little more variety required.
The use of the Spanish fleet also seemed pretty redundant and I don’t know why they were really required in the film. The characters offered nothing in entertainment and I think we could have done without them.
There were laughs to be had throughout the film, mainly from Jack himself, but I think there was a void left that was previously filled by the pirate comic duo, Pintel and Ragetti (Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook). This kind of comic relief wasn’t addressed and could be why the constant tirades of action and sword-play became a tad tiresome.
My rating: 3/5
I enjoyed this compared to “At world’s end” and would certainly recommend it if you enjoy the rest of the Pirates of the Carribean series.
Depp is again in his element as Captain Jack but as with most films that run over 2 hours, you will find yourself drift off now and again due to the constant action scenes. I will always be interested in this film series as long as Depp sticks with it.
A good film, but unspectacular.
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