May 24, 2011
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" features a race to the Fountain of Youth which was a great concept. We watched in 3D and I was glad to see that these were not mere post-production effects, and they lasted the whole movie. The 3D was certainly not a rip-off in this one! Those fight and chase scenes in the palace of the mad King George were amazingly shot. The special effects of the pirates encounter with mermaids contribute well to the eerie and menace of those scenes (which my kids found really scary).
With "On Stranger Tides," the Pirates franchise gets to concentrate more on the character of Capt. Jack Sparrow. Johnny Depp really has this character down pat, and obviously has fun with it. His deadpan delivery of hilariously witty one-liners does not get old. Old characters are still there, such as Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Gibbs and Jack's father, who are as we know them. But we also get to meet a woman from his past in the person of Angelica, who may or may not be Blackbeard's daughter. Honestly, I thought Penelope Cruz could not possibly be convincing as a pirate, but I was glad to be wrong. She could swashbuckle with the rest of them pirates.
While the relationship between Sparrow and Angelica was more on the comedy level, a new romantic pair was also introduced in the characters of the compassionate missionary Philip (Sam Claflin) and the mysterious Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey). While I read a lot of criticism about how useless this angle was to the film, I actually felt the scenes of these new characters were well-executed by new director Rob Marshall. I do not think they bog the storyline down at all.
This was the first Pirates movie that my two boys watched with me. After watching, I felt that indeed this film was the best way to introduce the Pirates to kids. It is shorter, lighter and faster-paced than the first three more "serious" films, which are more adult in orientation. This is not to mean that "Tides" is a lesser film quality though. I would think it could launch a trilogy of its own for its new fans.