What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words “Disney” and “mermaids” in the same sentence? If your answer is Ariel from The Little Mermaids, then you may want to avert your eyes in the mermaids scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, or you may just need to avoid the film all together, in which case, you would be missing out on a fun-filled 2+hr at the theatre.
It has been eight years since we first met Captain Jack Sparrow ((Johnny Depp) in the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, based on the popular ride of the same name at Disneyland. I remember going on that ride more than 15yrs ago – if only Johnny Depp was on hand to entertain me as I stood in line for half an hour waiting my turn. It has been a while since I have visited Disneyland – perhaps nowadays they just play the movies on the screens while you wait? Who would have thought that a popular theme park ride would spawn such a successful film franchise, but bravo to Jerry Bruckheimer. Not only did he make it work but he has managed to make it bigger and better with the latest installment.
Whereas in the previous three Pirates movies we were following the adventures of Captain Sparrow with Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) in tow, we meet some old friends and new on his new adventure – the quest to find the Fountain of Youth. The film opened with adventures on dry land as our good captain shows he can be just as swashbuckling on land as at sea. Rolling Stones legend returns as Jack’s father, Captain Teague, in a brief cameo, and watch out for a screen legend in a surprising cameo as Jack tries to escape the King’s men. But the most exciting return is of Captain Hector Barbossa, played by Australia’s very own jack-of-all-trades, Geoffrey Rush, this time with a wooden leg and working for the King.
Proving that swordplay is not just a man’s domain, Penelope Cruz joins the cast for the first time as Angelica, a woman who had been “corrupted” by Jack many years earlier as she was about to take her vows at a Spanish Convent. She may or may not (we can never be truly certain whether her truths are lies and her lies are truth) be the daughter of Blackbeard (played by Ian McShane), a fearsome pirate who practises the Black Arts and whose ship is manned by zombies.
Excitement and trouble ensue when Jack is involuntarily “recruited” to join Blackbeard’s crew to search for the Fountain of Youth, trying to beat Barbossa and the Spanish prince on the same quest, but each for very different reasons. Of course, even action movies must have their love story, and this time we have a couple of newcomers: a missionary by the name of Philip Swift (Sam Claflin) who believes that there is good in everybody, and a mermaid named Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), which leads me back to the topic of mermaids…before Hans Christian Andersen told the story of The Little Mermaid, these mythological sea creatures are believed to have lured sailors to their deaths, and in Pirates we are certainly not seeing the Danish fairytale version. The scene with the mermaids is probably the most violent scene of the movie but is a walk in the park compared to the octopus attack in Dead Man’s Chest.
Depp and Rush have perfect comedic timing and their scenes together are nothing short of brilliant. It is nice to see Captain Sparrow as less of a drunken, blithering fool this time compared to his past adventures, but no less entertaining. Trouble always seem to find Jack and how he gets out of his jams is part of the fun of why we keep watching. And before you know it, the 2hrs 17mins have just flown right by and you’re left with wanting more.
I would like to point out that I saw this movie at IMAX in 3D format. I am not a big fan of 3D movies because most of them seem to be made so needlessly in this format or so poorly done that, in my opinion, you barely notice the difference after the first 5 minutes. If I am paying nearly twice the price of a standard 2D movie, I want to make sure I get the full 3D experience and director Rob Marshall made sure we are reminded every so often that we are seeing the action as if we are right in the thick of it and each scene was worth the effort. As expected, the ending to On Stranger Tides leaves plenty of room for yet another sequel to this very successful franchise, and I, for one, am already looking forward to whatever adventure awaits Captain Jack!
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is already open in Australian cinemas and opens in the US on 20th May, 2011.
Author’s Note: I normally stay away from writing reviews but I had so much fun with this film I just wanted to share it with my readers. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think and whether you would like to read any more reviews in the future! Thanks 🙂