“Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise goes back to basics

0 Submitted by on Sun, 22 May 2011, 09:30
Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) and Angelica (Penelope Cruz) make their watery way through the jungle in search of the Fountain of Youth. Photo: Peter Mountain

By Sandra Kraisirideja

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” returns to its swashbuckling roots and has a simpler storyline than the last edition.

Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush reprise their roles as captains Sparrow and Barbossa, respectively, and Kevin McNally is back as Gibbs, but that’s it from the original cast. Penelope Cruz joins in as Angelica, a former lover and sometime rival of Jack Sparrows. Ian McShane is Blackbeard, a fearsome pirate with a magic sword and the power to turn seamen into zombies.

The quest this time around is for the Fountain of Youth but the final confrontation scene feels a lot like the original “Pirates” movie, which can be said for a lot of the sword fighting and battle sequences. I couldn’t help shake the feeling that I had seen this all before and it ceased to be entertaining.

A new mythology introduced in the fourth installment is mermaids but it’s the weakest part of the film. For some reason these mermaids are more like underwater vampires, complete with vampire fangs and an aversion to bright light. Sunlight even kills them. It’s as if the writers threw characteristics into a hat to figure out what to do with the mermaids. It doesn’t make any sense and feels completely out of place in the movie.

The same goes for an inconsequential love story that unfolds between one of the mermaids and a man of faith who is part of Blackbeard’s crew. This entire storyline could be removed without any impact whatsoever on the rest of the movie. It feels thrown in order to have some kind of romance.

Emotion and heart are missing from this latest “Pirates” installment. Depp isn’t any less charming as Jack Sparrow and he has a few funny lines but it’s not enough to sustain the whole movie.

On a side note I’d like to congratulate all the local San Diegans who appeared in the movie as crew members of Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The ship was played by the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship and part of the Maritime Museum in San Diego.

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