Movie review for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Rated: PG-13

           The “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise brought an edge to the Disney name and changed the face of the movie company forever. With the charismatic and kooky character that is Captain Jack Sparrow and a boat load of swashbuckling fun, “Pirates” is an adventure tale like no other.

            In “On Stranger Tides,” the search is on for the Fountain of Youth. Its power is great – and very coveted. The Royal Navy is in a race with the Spanish to find the fountain first. The English have enlisted the help of Captain Barbossa, who has deemed the honorable position more profitable than the life of a scallywag. Sparrow is asked to join the venture, for his only other option is prison and eventual death by hanging. But, in typical Captain Jack fashion, the clever pirate escapes just in time. 

            Eventually, Sparrow crosses paths with an ex-flame of his, Angelica. Their meeting proves to be more than just coincidence, for he soon finds himself aboard Queen Anne’s Revenge. Blackbeard is the captain of the dark and deadly ship and Angelica claims that he is her father. The two want Jack to, of all things, help them find the fountain before the English and Spanish do. 

            The journey is dangerous, mysterious, and full of obstacles. Along the way Jack and his new crew encounter mutiny, mermaids, and plenty of sword fights and gun battles. And, in between the treachery and foulness, there is a tiny glimpse of sacrifice and faith. 

            “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is a new take on the franchise thus far. Firstly, the movie has a new director, Rob Marshall. While he does a decent job at taking on this action-packed film, I prefer original director Gore Verbinski. The two styles are easy to differentiate and with credits such as “Chicago” and “Nine,” Marshall may not be particularly qualified to take on such an endeavor.

            Secondly, the recurring characters Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, and Pintel and Ragetti are no more. Instead, we have fresh faces in Angelica, Scrum, the missionary Philip, and mermaid Syrena. While this approach isn’t entirely bad, the sub-plot between the missionary and mermaid was a little unnecessary. I would have preferred to have seen some of the original characters; the entire Black Pearl crew is completely absent, save Gibbs.

            With that being said, it’s hard to knock a movie that is chock-full-of fun, adventure, and the infamous Jack Sparrow. I admit that I didn’t want the movie to end and was left wanting more. That should be a good sign. While it’s not perfect and there are some storyline flaws, this chapter of the “Pirates” story should be enjoyable to all.

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