Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two Spanish fishermen find a man in their nets who claims to be a member of the crew of Juan Ponce de León who was supposed to have died two hundred years previously while on an expedition in search of the Fountain of Youth. The man is brought to Cadiz, Spain, before Spanish King Ferdinand VI. Ferdinand orders the head of his Secret Service, known only as The Spaniard, to find the fountain. Meanwhile in London, Joshamee Gibbs is mistaken as Jack Sparrow while being put on trial for his former captain’s piracy to be hanged. However, a mysterious Judge – Sparrow in disguise – sentences Gibbs to life in prison and transfers Gibbs to jail under minimum security. During their hoped escape, having apparently given up on finding the Fountain, Sparrow reveals he came due to an imposter before he and Gibbs are arrested by crown forces. Jack is brought before King George II, who forces Jack to guide a British expedition to find the Fountain of Youth, with his guide being Captain Hector Barbossa, now a Privateer in the King’s service. Barbossa reveals to Jack that he lost one of his legs and the Black Pearl. Jack reacts angrily to this before causing havoc and making his escape. He then reunites with his father, Captain Teague, who takes him into a tavern and warns Jack that the quest for the Fountain will test him. Nevertheless, Jack continues as Teague tells him of two silvery chalices needed for the Fountain, and then advises him to join a crew being gathered within the tavern.

Jack discovers that the crew is being gathered by the impostor using his name. The impostor turns out to be a former love of Jack’s named Angelica. After they escape from the palace guard, Angelica drugs Jack and has him taken aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge under the command of the cruel Blackbeard. After Jack leads a failed mutiny attempt with the shanhaied crew, with the ship’s cook killed off as a example to halt any future plot against himself, Blackbeard uses both a “bottled” Black Pearl and a voodoo doll in his image to force Jack to lead him to the Fountain. Blackbeard is revealed to be Angelica’s father, and his quest for the fountain is to achieve eternal life so as to break a prophecy that foretells his death at the hands of a one-legged-man. Back in England, Barbossa takes Gibbs, who has memorized Jack’s map before burning it, with him on theHMS Providence to find the Fountain. On the Revenge, Angelica reveals to Jack that a ritual must first take place at the fountain before one can drink from it involving Ponce de León’s two silver chalices and a mermaid’s tear. She explains that the person who drinks the chalice with the mermaid’s tear will have his or her life lengthened by stealing the remaining life of whomever drinks from the other chalice. The Revenge arrives at Whitecap Bay, where Blackbeard intends to capture a mermaid. The crew are attacked by Tamara, Queen of the Mermaids, and they eventually capture a young mermaid. She catches the fancy of Philip Swift, a captive missionary, who later names her Syrena.

After setting sail to make port at safer waters, Blackbeard sends Jack to find the Santiago, Ponce de León’s ship, to retrieve his silver chalices. Meanwhile, the Providence is destroyed by the mermaids as Barbossa, Gibbs, and a handful of men march through the jungles to find the Santiago. Finding Barbossa on the Santiago, Jack and he discover that the chalices were taken by The Spanish. Under the cover of the night, Jack and Barbossa steal the chalices from The Spaniard’s tent only to be captured. While held captive, Jack has Barbossa admit that he became a privateer so he can exact revenge on Blackbeard for taking the Pearl from him. After freeing themselves and escaping with the Chalices, Jack and Barbossa devise a plan to defeat Blackbeard and then part ways. As this occurs, Syrena and Philip develop feelings for one another. Blackbeard makes it appear as if Philip is left for dead after having his throat slit. However, Philip has only been drugged, and when he awakens and returns to free Syrena, who sheds a tear of joy, which Blackbeard collects. Blackbeard takes Philip with him while leaving a heart-broken Syrena tied to a tree. The next day, Jack rejoins Blackbeard’s party and hands over the silver chalices to him while regaining his compass and giving it to Gibbs.

After Blackbeard’s crew arrives to the Fountain, Barbossa emerges with his men as Blackbeard realized Sparrow set up the trap. A fierce fight breaks out, and after being mortally wounded, Philip makes his way back to Syrena and frees her from her bonds. The battle ends when the Spaniard arrives with his Battalion, revealing that he came to destroy the fountain as he throws the silver chalices away before ordering his men to tear the fountain apart. Barbossa then stabs a horrified Blackbeard with his sword, which has been coated with tree frog venom. Angelica runs to her father, cutting her hand on the poisoned sword while pulling it from her father’s body. Blackbeard’s shanghaied crew then join Barbossa, who takes Blackbeard’s sword as his own and takes his leave. Staying behind to save Angelica, Jack obtains the busted chalices from Syrena and fills them up with the fountain’s last drops. Taking advantage of Blackbeard’s evil nature, Jack tricks him into drinking from the wrong chalice, which saves Angelica while reducing her father into a skeleton.

As Syrena spirits Philip away into the depths, Barbossa takes command of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and renounces his oath of loyalty to Britain (even finding his old pirate hat on board the Revenge) as he sails for Tortuga. Knowing that Angelica kill him for her father’s death, Jack maroons her on a deserted island with a single pistol so not to starve. Though Angelica tries to woo her way back into his graces, Jack leaves her anyway and she wastes her shot trying to kill him. Jack rejoins Gibbs, who managed to steal the bottled Pearl along with a fleet of other shrunken ships and Blackbeard’s treasure. They then head off on an adventure to restore the Pearl to its original size. In a post-credits scene, Blackbeard’s voodoo doll of Jack washes ashore in front of Angelica. She picks it up, and smiles as she realizes she can have her revenge.

REVIEW:

Jack Sparrow is back in the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. I’ve read some rather harsh reviews about this film saying things like this is more of the same, the plot is just as confusing and convoluted as the last couple of films, etc.

Well, after seeing it this afternoon, it is time I gave put my two cents in, don’t you think?

I won’t deny that this plot is a bit confusing, so let me simplify it for you. If you may recall at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Jack had obtained the map to the Fountain of Youth. Well, this one picks up a little bit after that, only you throw in Blackbeard and his daughter, who has had a previous relationship with Sparrow, and of course Barbossa. Make that go on for 2 hrs 17 minutes and you have Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow and has not lost a step in his portrayal, even though many of his lines are the same ones he’s been uttering in all 3 films.

Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa, similar to Depp’s Sparrow, hasn’t lost a step either, but there is an added wrinkle to him with the whole peg leg thing and working for the British empire, rather than being a pirate. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was something different about him. It may have been that he wasn’t in his normal Barbossa attire, but he looked noticeably slimmer.

The always gorgeous and delectable Penelope Cruz makes her debut in the franchise. I believe she was pregnant while filming this, but don’t quote me on that. Her character, Angelica, is a very complex one, much more so than Keirra Knightley’s Elizabeth Swan. Cruz is definitely and upgrade from Knightley, and if this franchise continues, I look forward to seeing more of her.

If you’re going to have Blackbeard in a film about pirates, you best damn be sure to get someone who can really do the character justice. Ian McShane fills this requirement to a ‘T’, but  sort of was expecting a bit more, but that is more a slight against how they wrote his character, and not his performance. Still, the guy is quite menacing, reminiscent of Barbossa when we first met him in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl or the first encounter with Davey Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Orlando Bloom and Kierra Knightley decided not to return because they felt their story couldn’t go any further and so that they could focus on other projects. This left room for a new innocent couple, played by newcomers Sam Claflan and Astrid Berges-Frisbey. Neither particularly light up the screen, but they do show signs of what could be good things to come, especially if this franchise continues and brings them along.

Look for a brief cameo by Judi Dench and small role from Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter franchise).

Normally, I would take the time to mention the scenery right about here, but with this installment, it isn’t as breathtaking. That isn’t to say Hawaii isn’t as beautiful a setting as the other places they filmed, it just didn’t seem to be utilized as well. I think this was due more to the director, though.

The action in this film seems to be a bigger part of it, which I loved, but they fights and escape scenes seem to have been nothing more than elaborate dance sequences. That may work for theater, but not a big budget action flick like this. I also would have liked for there to have been more swashbuckling. Call me old-fashioned, but I expect to see clanging swords and such in my pirate movies.

The mermaids were not what I expected. Seriously, how many of us think of mermaids as evil vampire type creatures as they are depicted here? These mermaids are a far cry from Ariel and that chick from Splash!

Now, let me get to the confusing part of this flick…the film begins with the Spanish learning of the location of the Fountain of Youth. After that, we don’t see them again, with the exception of Barbossa passing what looks to be Columbus’ expedition, until the end of the film. I have nothing against the Spanish, but they just seemed to be sort of unnecessary or underdeveloped, depending on how you look at it. I honestly don’t think it would have hurt to have left them out or give them the same kind of development the Royal Tea Company got in the last couple of films. At least that way, it would have made them more of something more than a nuisance.

That point aside, I liked the addition of the new characters (excluding the Spanish). They brought in new blood, but I think if this franchise is to continue, they need to find a way to put it back in the hands of the original director. Not to take anything away from Rob Marshall. He did a respectable job, just not worthy of its predecessors.

One would imagine that after all this time, this would be an upgrade from the previous film, but it isn’t. I think this is why many critics are disappointed. They were expecting more than what we get here. However, what we do get is something quite enjoyable, especially for a summer film.

So, here comes the big questions…should you see this? Well, of course! There isn’t anything keeping this from being a really good film. The minor issues it has keep it from being great. Having said that, though, as I was watching this, I had this cloud of something isn’t right hanging over me. Maybe it was my thinking that this is going to be the last thing I do on this Earth j/k Seriously, though, this is definitely worth the price of admission, but don’t expect it revolutionize the franchise. It is a bit of more of the same, but there is enough new stuff in there to keep it fresh. Go watch and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

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3 Responses to “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

  1. […] Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 9. Rango 8. Cowboys & Aliens 7. The King’s Speech 6. Thor 5. Green […]

  2. […] Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 9. Rango 8. Cowboys & Aliens 7. The King’s Speech 6. Thor 5. Green […]

  3. […] of playing an intimidating father. Just ask Penelope Cruz. He played her father, Blackbeard, in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Too bad this wasn’t a bigger role for him, but sometimes being a king just isn’t the […]

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