Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past, Angelica (Penélope Cruz), and he's not sure if it's love, or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.Written by
On August 1, 2009, Bill Nighy expressed his desire to return as Davy Jones, who died in the previous movie, saying the possibility to resurrect the character, but at the end, his inclusion was scrapped. See more »
(at around 1h 30 mins) Theodore Groves is referred to in both dialogue and the credits as "Lieutenant Commander". However, this rank wasn't created in the British Navy until 1877, and 'On Stranger Tides' is apparently set in the 1740s. Groves can only be a Lieutenant or a Commander, with the latter being more likely in serving as second-in-command to a Privateer Admiral (Barbossa). See more »
In movies, as in marriage, the fourth go-around can get a little tricky. As the fourth round approaches there's an apprehension of what has come before and what is new that is left to be discovered. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the third sequel in Disney's highly-successful series, is not a movie that I went into with much anticipation. Yet, as I always do, I allowed myself to be open minded (you never know when a movie will surprise you) and I found the movie quite enjoyable.
My apprehension comes from the experience of the previous films, which I complained were too long and so overwritten as to become convoluted. That's not good for what should be a simple pirate movie. Having left behind many of the familiar characters (Orlando Bloom, Kiera Knightly and Jonathan Price are absent this time), the movie is free to find new characters and a new arena to play in. With that, this is a kind of trimmed down POTC movie.
The movie finds the ever-plucky sea-going rascal Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) once again in trouble with the King's court and about to be executed. That is, until one of his crew produces a map to the fabled Fountain of Youth, rumored to have been found 200 years before by the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León. Jack makes a spectacular escape and the race is on race to find the fountain, which is headed off first by the Spanish fleet and then by the British fleet. Trailing them are Jack and his nemesis Captain Barbossa (Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush), who is a privateer under the orders of King George II (Richard Griffiths). Then there is Angelica (Oscar winner Penelope Cruz), who is first mate on the ship captained by Blackbeard (Ian McShane) - whose beard is actually gray, but never mind.
The plot to get to the fountain of youth is probably more complicated than it needs to be. Getting to the fountain is easy enough, but then we learn that it is not a simple matter of taking a dip and becoming younger, no. First, Jack learns, you must first get two goblets belonging to Ponce de León, then you have to mix it with the tears of a mermaid, then (I think I have this right), one person has to drink from one cup to become younger and then another person has to drink from the other and they will die. Something along those lines. As I said, it is more complicated than it needs to be.
The plot, as in the previous installments, is somewhat superfluous. There really isn't a need to get to the fountain of youth. There probably wasn't any need for mermaids that can suck your blood, nor, all that stuff about voodoo and shrinking massive ships until you can fit them into bottles. Yet, what I have learned about this series is that the plot really doesn't matter. These films are constructed more as a series of set pieces rather than a narrative plot. I appreciated the mermaids but, this being a Disney film, the all-out boob-fest that should have ensued sadly never materializes.
What keeps this series popular is quality control. Johnny Depp maintains the same swagger and slurry charm that he had in the previous films. He keeps from taking the film too seriously but avoids the temptation to make fun of the character. The first film got him his first Oscar nomination, and justifiably so. Eight years, and three sequels later, Depp maintains the fun spirit of the character and doesn't allow it to grow routine. Neither does Geoffrey Rush, in his third go-around as Captain Barbossa, which he plays with an evil wink and a pirate accent that he practically chews on. Penelope Cruz gives a nice performance here and proves - to me at least - that she should have been the female protagonist of the series all along instead of Kiera Knightly. Yet, I was surprisingly underwhelmed by Ian McShane's performance as Blackbeard. McShane is a wonderful actor but somehow Blackbeard seems subdued. He is pure evil, right down to the buckles on his boots but the character doesn't leap out with the lip-smacking vileness that I had hoped. The movie pins the character down as if they are introducing him to be in a future movie.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" is probably the best of the series since the first one. That is thanks to a leaner script and, mercifully, a shorter running time (it is actually an hour shorter than the last one). I could complain about it all day long, but I would rather confess that I was more entertained by this film than I was by the previous two.
Disney has found a gold mine with this series. Convoluted as these movies are, they do have an audience and I am glad to see anything that gets movie fans excited. Yet, there is a feeling that this series may be wrapping up. Johnny Depp has said that he is growing tired of playing Jack Sparrow (although it does not come out in his performance) and that may bring about an end to this "Pirates" series. With that, I started thinking that maybe Disney would do well to move on to something else, maybe Treasure Island, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Moby Dick. Maybe the same fun-loving spirit that made this series so popular could be given to those classics as well.
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