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Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides

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This past summer, my friends and I went to go see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in theaters. At first, I was a bit reluctant to go because I had seen the third movie and was unimpressed. Plus, this one didn’t have Orlando Bloom or Keira Knightly in it, so what the heck was it going to be about? I was worried, since I hadn’t seen the last movie in so long, that I would be completely lost throughout the screening. Thankfully, I got my money’s worth and was pleased that I had chosen to go see the movie after all. This fourth installment of one of the biggest franchises in movie history is a better effort in continuing the story of the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).

The movie begins with Sparrow leading a voyage to find the Fountain of Youth. There are many characters trying to reach the fabled fountain before Sparrow, like Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his spirited daughter, Angelica (Penelope Cruz).  Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) also makes an appearance in this film, and yet again the audience still cannot tell which side his character is on. 

To find the Fountain of Youth and use the restorative powers is a difficult task. Once it is found, two people must drink the water from two silver cups, one containing a mermaid’s tear and one without, at the same time. The person who drinks the water including the mermaid’s tear has his or her life extended.  However the one who drinks the cup containing only water has his or life taken away.

This film is superior to its predecessor in many ways. First, the reason these movies have done so well is because of three words: Captain Jack Sparrow. Johnny Depp has created a character that is both hilarious and always right in the middle of the action. Sparrow’s smart-alecky comments are the basis on which these movies stand. Well, that and the action packed scenes with cannons firing, ships blowing up, and sword fights.

The special effects are also extremely impressive here. Many people I talked to about the movie always commented on the mermaid scene. This scene is both frightening and amazingly beautiful at the same time. The depiction of the mermaids is both refreshing and unorthodox.

Finally, watching the film, I found myself extreme happy with the chemistry between Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp. Sparrow has never had any serious love interests, and I don’t think that there could have been any until he met his match in this movie. This on-screen duo has a rapport that is natural and enjoyable to watch. I think this particular romantic duo work better than Knightley and Bloom.

One aspect I found myself not enjoying is the mermaid and the missionary love interest. Yes, I know Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan aren’t there, but this love plot point is kind of strange. The audience has no time to get to know these two characters, so to be swept up in their sudden endearment is overwhelming. The acting is sincere, but, personally, I was mainly watched to see Philip Swift (Sam Claflin) take his shirt off. During most of their interactions I mainly wanted the focus to shift back to Sparrow or the story.

All in all, I enjoyed this fourth chapter of the Pirates series. I would recommend it to anyone who has seen any of the films (it certainly isn’t necessary to see all of them). Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides recently came out on Blu-Ray and DVD, and any person who enjoys Captain Jack and his “crew of miscreants” will enjoy this film. So, take the voyage and sail off to see what adventures the beloved pirates will be in store for this time.

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About Mary Beth Pearson