Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review

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Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (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 (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.

Four years after the last film, Jerry Bruckheimer and Co have brought us the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Having generated over $2.6 billion dollars worldwide over the first three movies, it was almost an inevitability that the series would continue.This time however, gone is Director Gore Verbinski, who had helmed all three films and enter Rob Marshall, who is best known for Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha and Nine.

Based on Tim Powers novel ‘On Stranger Tides’ the plot of the film puts Jack and Barbossa on the same path to find the elusive Fountain of Youth. To complicate things, a woman from Jack’s past, Angelica (Penelope Cruz) who is first mate on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, enslaves Jack to the dreaded Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Blackbeard believes a curse is upon him and that he needs the Fountain to extend his life beyond the curses’ prophecy.

Shot in 3D, the film is a joy to watch. For the first time, they have gotten it right with the technology and you get a sense of real immersion. The CGI is seemlessly intergrated with the live action and the film is the best example so far of the two worlds colliding.

Johnny Depp once again brings Jack Sparrow to life and is a joy to watch. His mannerisms are an always welcome distraction to what can be sometimes a thinly plotted story. Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa is one of modern cinemas greatest villians, coming off as more Captain Hook than a cutthroat pirate.

When these two are on screen together there is a certain type of magic that they bring out in each other. It”s a joy to watch them play together and is one of the highlights of the movie. The newcomers to the franchise, Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane, really up the ante. McShane’s Blackbeard is mesmerizing to watch. The man has such a screen presence that I will be surprised if he doesn’t come back for the sequel. His Blackbeard is the kind of performance worthy of a Shakespearean melodrama.  Penelope Cruz is very sexy in her role as, what can be boiled down to the love interest, but she embues the character with just enough of a wink to let us know that she is in on the joke.

The film has action a plenty and it rarely slows down. It’s shorter than the last movie by about 30 minutes, but that gives the film a stronger focus and a better pace. I did note that in the end credits they did have a credit for Additional Editing by Michael Kahn (Speilberg’s longtime editor). At times the subplots were a bit labourious, but the film on the whole is a fun adventure that really should have been the second film instead of the last two movies.

Just a word of warning. This is not a kid’s film. It may look kid friendly, but it does have a dark heart and is sometimes quite intense. Although the first film had the Undead sailors, this film sometimes gets very dark. Too much for the little ones.

For a fourth film in a series, this is terrific fun and the sense of adventure is back.

I give this film 7 out of 10

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opens in cinemas in Australia on Thursday 19th May