So I checked out the 4th Pirates movie last night on a “Bargain Tuesday” (where films – even in 3D IMAX format – are only 6 bucks!) at my local theater. I went along with my daughter who, surprisingly enough, chose to see this movie over Kung Fung Panda 2. Who knew? As I’m buying goodies to eat and walking towards our primo seats in the IMAX theater, I wondered why she was so excited about seeing this movie in particular. She had seen the first three movies years ago and I doubt that she remembered the various plot lines (I don’t!) so what was it about this movie that appealed to her so much? The answer was really quite simple when I asked her.
“I like Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp second,” she said with a bashful smile.
She’s only 9 years old and already knows, just like everyone else, that Johnny Depp is a really superb actor. Yes, I say superb. Aside from the Pirates franchise, he’s done some really great movies and has displayed some true acting chops. What I love about the Pirates movies is Jack Sparrow. Here’s a totally unique character in film with so much wit, charisma, bravado and sex appeal, that he really is the driving force behind these movies. The second and third sequels lost sight of that. The plot was all convoluted and the supporting characters I didn’t really much cared for. The focus wasn’t on Jack Sparrow and I feel that On Stranger Tides, the studio went back to its roots and put Jack front and center. The story was really simple: Jack Sparrow is forced to get to the fountain of youth by Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter Angelica Malon (Penelope Cruz). The Spaniards want it as so do the British. Throw in Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) who’s also seeking the fountain of youth on behalf of the Brits but with an ulterior motive and you have a recipe for a good time at the movies.
I couldn’t understand however the negative reviews from the critics. On the tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was listed at 32%. Ouch. Yet 65% of the audience liked it. Not bad. Personally I liked the movie very much. The story was much easier to understand and the acting was top-notch. I thought that adding a new female lead and casting Ian McShane as Blackbeard was a refreshing change. However, I felt that Blackbeard wasn’t as menacing enough (this is Al Swearengen for Christ’s sake!) or that he could’ve had more of a central focus in the film. Ian McShane is now one of my favorite actors and I thought that the writers and director Rob Marshall missed a really good opportunity here. Blackbeard was just along for the ride and although important in the plot, was not really central. He was just another faction seeking the fountain. Keeping Geoffrey Rush (love Barbossa!) in the latest movie was also a good decision as his character is just as iconic and loveable as Jack Sparrow. I thought he was definitely one of the best parts of the film.
One of my favorite sequences in the film involved the mermaids. These very beautiful half-women sea creatures were vicious! I knew something foreboding surrounded the plot and their involvement so I purposely avoided seeing anything relating to them in the previews, trailers and reviews. This was the only part of the film where my daughter had to cover her eyes in fear. It was a really good sequence though.
Hans Zimmer returned for the score and a Pirates movie wouldn’t be a Pirates movie without a Hans Zimmer trademark swashbuckling score. The movie had wit and humor, intricate action sequences and good performances from the cast. I am a big fan of the Pirates franchise and I truly hope that more movies will be made in the future. I sincerely thought that the franchise was dead and that Depp wouldn’t do any more movies as Jack Sparrow. It was a surprise to learn that he really loves the character and looked forward in playing him again for this movie. He also said the he would continue to play Jack because he loves and knows the character so well and because it’s fun playing him.
Well, as my daughter and I agree, it’s been fun watching Jack Sparrow on screen and I hope he continues to entertain us for years to come.