The first Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, was a strong opener for the franchise, which reached its peak with its second installment: Dead Man’s Chest, a movie that was awesome all around: great acting, great storyline and an awesome cliffhanger, the likes of which you only see in certain TV shows where the wait is simply a few months. So the expectations for the third installement, At World’s End, were very high. But the sophomore slump expected for Dead Man’s Chest apparently skipped a generation and landed on At World’s End, making the movie a total disappointement.
So it’s safe to say that I wasn’t too excited about the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise reboot, with their fourth installment: On Stranger Tides. With most of the cast returning (the only people missing are Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, not that I care that much) and adding new faces in the form of Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane, the franchise was set to restart anew.
And restart it does. Not only is the movie an immense enjoyment, it is also engaging and visually stunning.
Starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, On Stranger Tides is the three-way race to the Fountain of Youth between the English, led by ex-pirate Barbossa, the Spaniards and the ship Queen Anne’s Revenge, which is Blackbeard’s (a rival captain portrayed by Ian McShane) ship. Each one of those three has their separate knowledge of the path to the Fountain of Youth and their own agenda for going there. But the path to the fountain is filled with dangers and in order to harness the fountain’s powers, one needs to collect a mermaid’s tear, two chalices of the ancient ship Ponce de Leon’s wreck, both of which are not as easy to get as it seems.
Penelope Cruz portrays Angelica, one of Jack’s old flames and Blackbeard’s daughter. I thought she was an interesting addition to the franchise, becoming, yet again, the only woman on a crew of pirates. She’s quite safe in her role, not presenting anything groundbreaking on screen, but it works in the space she’s allowed to have in the movie.
On Stranger Tides also welcomes newcomer Sam Claflin, a Christian missionary, whose role as Philip in the movie is essential on two accounts: crucial advancement of the plot and some comic relief at particular tense moments.
On Stranger Tides begins with a set of duels and escape attempts. It isn’t until after the first thirty minutes that the movie starts to bite into its plot, with the characters well off at sea. It is then that you are presented with a truly magnificient scene involving mermaids and the movie starts running full throttle till the end.
Johnny Depp, whom I believe did the last Pirate movie of obligation more so than passion, is back in force for this installment. It’s refreshing to see Jack Sparrow be his regular self again: playful, never serious and uncannily witty.
The special effects in On Stranger Tides are brilliantly executed as well. If the overall acting ensemble didn’t engage you in the movie, the whole effect of this “other world” will do the job. There isn’t any part that looks unrealistic and everything is executed with the utmost care for details. Moreover, Hans Zimmer is, yet again, a genius at what he does. The score of On Stranger Tides is chills-inducing, especially when the Pirates of the Caribbean theme gets played inside the cinema and you get that warm feeling of epicness inside you.
Overall, On Stranger Tides is a breath of fresh air in a franchise I thought had lost its way. It’s an enjoyable movie that, despite its many flaws, manages to entertain you and, at least for two hours, make you forget about the things you left at the theater’s door. It immerses you and you can’t help but be thoroughly enjoyed by whatever’s taking place on screen. You don’t need to have watched the previous installments to understand what goes on in this one, just go as you are and watch!