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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides in 3D

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Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides in 3D
138 minutes

Ahoy, mates!  Johnny Depp is back as his iconic character, the loveable, swishy, swashbuckling pirate Captain Jack Sparrow in the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise with much of the action filmed in the jungles of Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

After a disappointing, incoherent, third film, 'On Stranger Tides', recaptures the fun elements that made the original so enjoyable. No longer returning for this sequel are previous co-stars, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly.  They are gone, out of the picture, but not missed, with Geoffrey Rush once again on board for this new high sea adventure, along with Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane as fresh new characters injecting exciting elements and igniting new life in to what seemed to be a worn out franchise.  Taking over the reins from Gore Verbinski this go around is Oscar winning director Rob Marshall (2002's Chicago) and he keeps the action flowing at a steady pace.

'On Stranger Tides' centers on the search for Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon's fabled Fountain of Youth.  In competition, racing to find it is Jack's old nemesis, the sly, now one legged Captain Hector Barbossa (Rush) recruited by England's King George II (Richard Griffiths) to lead a royal Naval ship on the mission before the Spanish (that are Catholic and hated by the monarch) get to claim it for themselves, and the legendary, evil pirate Blackbeard (McShane) desperate to take a sip of the miraculous water in order to thwart off a prophecy that foretells of his death.

In possession of a map is Captain Jack who wants to retrieve his beloved ship, the Black Pearl, while avoiding the clutches of those on his trail. Along the way Jack winds up crossing swords with sexy spitfire, and former lover Angelica (Cruz) who claims he corrupted and then abandoned her. Eager for revenge and wanting repayment for lost years that she says he owes her, Angelica, who happens to be Backbeard's daughter, takes Jack prisoner aboard The Queen's Revenge commanded by her father with his crew of zombies.

As in almost every perilous movie mission, in order to complete it, there are obstacles to overcome and finding integral pieces that must fit into place. This one requires recovering a pair of silver chalices, and a tear from one of the beautiful but cunning and deadly mermaids that inhabit the ocean's depths, as part of the ritual of drinking the water from the fountain of youth. Also held prisoner by Blackbeard is Philip (Sam Claflin) a handsome young missionary, whose growing enchantment with a lovely and mysterious, captured mermaid, Serena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), works as a requisite element in the storyline to help thicken the plot.

The supporting cast includes Kevin R. McNally returning as Jack's loyal first mate, Mr. Gibbs who in the opening sequence is sent to rot in a London jail, until Jack comes to his rescue and joins the adventure.

Adding to the fun, rock legend Keith Richards, once again makes a brief appearance as Jack's father, Captain Teague, and Dame Judi Dench pops up towards the beginning in a quick, amusing cameo. You are hereby advised NOT to turn your head for a moment, or for sure you will miss her.

POTC: On Stranger Tides is a fun filled romp featuring exciting sword fights and chases, and some  eye popping 3D and CGI effects punctuated by Hans Zimmer's lively music score. I also enjoyed the cleverly written dialogue that is occasionally highlighted by some funny, double entendre, one liners. My favorite recited by Depp is “I support the missionary's position”, that, based on the lack of reaction, flew over the head of most of the audience at the screening I attended.

Depp is as charismatic as ever and irreplaceable as the humorously eccentric, black eye-lined, pirate. It is clear he had a great time making this episode and audiences will have an equally good time going along for the ride. The title says On Stranger Tides, but don't let that throw you.  From the opening sequence to the end, this is an entertaining and satisfying over 2 and a half hour voyage.  There is nothing strange about that.

Stay after the credits and you will see a scene with Penelope Cruz that acts as a teaser for another installment in the POTC franchise.

Here's some interesting information you may not know.  Take notice when the camera is on Cruz. The Spanish born actress was cleverly shot from angles that distracted from her belly. That is because during the filming she was five months pregnant with husband Javier Bardem's child.

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