Film review: Shiver me timbers

On Stranger Tides may be a box office success but how different can each pirate movie be?

Amna Khalique June 19, 2011

Jack Sparrow and his motley crew return to the big screen for the fourth (and probably not the last) time in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

The latest installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has raked in well over $807 million, a huge bulk of which has been earned through international moviegoers. After the failure of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, word is that director Rob Marshall was asked to save this sinking ship. Marshall does succeed (given the ratings at the box office) — but how different can each pirate movie be?

The film opens with a court scene in England where Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) has managed to take on the role of a judge, deciding a trial for one of his own men (Gibbs), who has been arrested in a case of mistaken identity. A few scenes later, we see that Sparrow’s fate rests with King George, before whom he is forced to appear. But Sparrow is characteristically more interested in sampling the delicious pastries set before the king instead of his verdict.

In his latest adventure, the swashbuckling Captain Jack Sparrow is in search of the elusive Fountain of Youth, though he has only a vague recollection of where it is located. It is during this search that he happens to meet one of his lovers from the past, a fiesty Angelica (Penelope Cruz) who is also on the same mission. Cruz plays with ease the part of a firebrand Latino female pirate who is as quick with words as Sparrow is at fleeing from danger. Their relationship is uncertain from the get-go, with Angelica trying to avenge Sparrow’s sudden disappearance from her life. Things get even more tangled when Angelica forces Sparrow to board the ship of the legendary pirate, Blackbeard (Ian McShane) who coincidentally, is also her father.

Not shot entirely on pirate ships and stormy seas, the film also ventures onto land, as Sparrow races against the others — which include the British, who have allied with Captain Barbossa (Geoffery Rush), as well as the Spanish — towards the Fountain of Youth. Through the two-hour duration of the film there are several encounters which lead to the usual action sequences. Those watching the film in 3-D may have better luck enjoying such stunts, but for those watching it the regular ol‘ way (read 2-D), these action sequences leave much to be desired.

True to the first few films, the dialogue is funny. Cruz adds glamour and star power to the film and has great on-screen chemistry with Johnny Depp. Still, the film lacks a little something. Perhaps because there is only so much one can expect from sequels. That being said, if you choose to ignore the lack of a coherent plot, On Stranger Tides will definitely be one of the better options from the scores of sequels that have either been released or are yet to be released this summer.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, June 19th, 2011.


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Meta | 10 years ago | Reply Nicely written and I couldn't agree more with your critique. Although there is one thing I would want to point out. You wrote: "...the British, who have allied with Captain Barbossa (Geoffery Rush), as well as the Spanish — towards the Fountain of Youth." The British did not ally with the Spanish; they just weren't fighting each other because they were focused on getting to the fountain of youth, if I'm not wrong.
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