Friday, May 27, 2011
The return of Captain Jack
I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides yesterday, and liked it well enough. Thrills, laughs, scares, they're all there. However, it didn't have anywhere near the ambition and scope of the last couple of Pirates movies, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, nor the variety of characters.
On that last point, there aren't many "normal" characters this time, like the previous films' Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) or Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), for the larger-than-life characters to contrast with and stand out against. Here, nearly everyone is a big, eccentric character... Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, Geoffrey Rush's Captain Barbossa, Ian McShane's Blackbeard, among others, which eventually makes everything feel somewhat over the top. Making these characters seem even more eccentric is the fact that there isn't a big, ambitious story for them to fill this time, just a fairly modest one about different interests racing to reach the Fountain of Youth.
Despite the smaller, less epic story, there are some high points in the movie, however, including a terrific set piece involving Blackbeard and his crew, with a conscripted Jack Sparrow along for the ride, trying to lure a school of mermaids into a trap, in order to secure the tears of one of the lovely but deadly creatures (the tears being needed to activate the Fountain of Youth once it's found). The whole mermaid sequence starts out bad for the hunters then gets worse, eventually resembling the Pirates version of a fire fight with the Vietcong. It's something to see.
I could tell you a few more things, some good and some less so, about the movie. But in the end, if you liked the other Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you'll probably enjoy this one enough to justify a trip to the theater. You may even like it more than the last couple, if you felt those were getting a bit too bloated and complicated. Me, I found On Stranger Tides to be a bit of a step back in most key areas, but not enough of one to get upset about. I'm glad I saw it.