Captain Jack is back, not that anyone really expected him to come back after they wrapped up the first trilogy, but hey, the theme park ride that this franchise is based off clearly provides enough inspiration for four movies. Okay, this one was based on a book as well, but you catch my drift. Perhaps this dead horse has been flogged enough?
Apparently not, and apparently Johnny Depp somehow needed more money, or just really likes pretending to be a pirate, because where Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley turned up their noses, Depp willingly jumped into his Sparrow costume once again. Geoffrey Rush also returns as Captain Barbossa, so that's quite nice, and the inclusion of Penelope Cruz is a nice touch too.
On Stranger Tides finds Jack Sparrow working at different times alongside and against Barbossa, and also the infamous Captain Blackbeard (Ian McShane), as they both rush to find the location of the fountain of youth before some filthy Spaniards get to it first. How Sparrow got into this mess is a little unclear. He's first approached by the king, then he escapes and meets his former flame, Angelica (Cruz), who manages to knock him out and put him on Blackbeard's ship. I guess Sparrow's only real motivation for finding the fountain is so he doesn't get killed by a funky voodoo doll that Blackbeard somehow has the ability to make, but off everyone sets, magically knowing the secret formula for unlocking the fountain. They have to capture a live mermaid and find a lost ship that is apparently very easily found, but it's all a part of the journey really.
The truth is, On Stranger Tides expects you to just accept a lot of things, because if they actually took the time to explain anything or add any sense of realism to the search they'd probably have to add a couple more hours to the movie. So yes, all three parties know exactly where to go and what to do, and they're all setting off to find the fountain at the same time. Yes, Blackbeard may be a regular menacing pirate, but his sword is magic and can make ropes tie people up. You may ask why, but why not? Most of the time I spent watching this movie I found myself asking "How did they get there?", or "How do they know what to do?", or "When is this going to be over?". Every time I found myself asking a question like that though, the movie seemed to be saying "I know you're confused, and this is all really stupid, but look, Johnny Depp is about to say something witty and stagger around a bit, and that's all that matters really". Then Johnny Depp said something irritating and did his wobbly thing that isn't really fun anymore. He looks like he has a serious problem.
I would comment on the pacing of the movie, but I couldn't really work it out. It sure is fast paced, but they seem to have left out so many explanations of things that it feels like I slept through several scenes that probably wrapped everything up and added up to a nicely planned movie. The fight scenes are silly, with several men with swords and guns often succumbing to a wobbly pirate armed with just ropes and sometimes various foodstuffs. Mind you, they're kind of fun to watch, it does bring back good memories of the first couple of movies, with the well thought out action sequences, it's just that these ones don't really have the same impact when they're mostly broken up by someone shouting.
Visually you can't really fault it though. The locations are great, the costumes are as awesome as ever. The actors certainly do a good job too, Rush is still good as Barbossa, and McShane plays quite a menacing Blackbeard, and Depp really puts his all into reprising Jack Sparrow, it's just the character's kind of worn his welcome. Despite all the messiness and unexplained bits and pieces, there certainly is an alright movie in here, they just need to get rid of some of the crap clogging it up. Still, it's certainly a lot better than At World's End.
My rating: 2/5
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