Ahoy mateys! It’s time to get all hands on deck for another summer blockbuster review.
This week there be mermaids and missionaries and Blackbeard (oh my!).
Shiver me timbers! It must be “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”
In this fourth installment of the franchise everyone’s favorite pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns in all of his glory along with Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) and Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally).
This time they’re searching for the fountain of youth and bringing some new crew members along, including the perfectly pious missionary (and clear Orlando Bloom replacement) Philip (Sam Claflin), the beautifully mischievous Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and her just plain evil father, Blackbeard (Ian McShane).
What begins as a three-pronged search for the fountain by the Spanish, English, and Blackbeard’s crew soon becomes a web of side plots, untold histories, Judy Dench cameos (seriously), and questions of morality and justice.
Amidst the battles of wit, conscience, and plot lines, Depp and his spectacularly grungy character hold this movie together. Along with Rush’s Barbosa, they form the very thin like between this film and its predecessors.
True this is clearly the same swashbuckling world we’ve come to know and love, but this film screams relaunch more than sequel. Few references are made to any of the first films and beyond Barbosa and Sparrow the roster of returning characters is very thin.
Cruz as Angelica is a wonderful match for Sparrow, but we don’t really learn much about their previous relationship.
The tale of the missionary is so far removed from the central plot at times that it’s easy to forget about, but I find myself looking forward to the continuation of his story.
Ultimately, it’s everything you would expect from these buccaneers, it’s busy and messy and battle-heavy and there’s a serious lack of reference to the previous movies, but at the end of the journey you’re still ready to set sail with this motley crew all over again…and you know you will.