Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his first mate, Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally), go in search of the fountain of youth. They cross paths with the nefarious pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and Jacks old flame, Angelica (Penelope Cruz). Jack convinces Angelica he has been to the fountain of youth, so she makes him lead the expedition so she can find the fountain to save her father.
The Pirates of the Caribbean series in an interesting one. It started out amazing with The Curse of the Black Pearl then slowly went downhill when trying to embrace its fantasy side, which was my favorite draw towards the series. Although On Stranger Tides still has fantastical elements, its clean story slate gives it room to do its own thing and not be bogged down like At World’s End.
Since At World’s End capped of the trilogy, the only characters to return were Jack Sparrow, his first mate Gibbs and rival Barbossa. This gives the franchise room to bring in new characters. Blackbeard is one of the best additions to the series. It is clear from the beginning that he is someone even other pirates think isn’t to be trifled with. He has some great lines throughout the film, especially when he is first revealed. McShane delivers the lines with precision and humor that makes it hard not to enjoy the character.
Penelope Cruz as Angelica is another great addition. She is the first female character since Elizabeth Swann that can go toe-to-toe with Jack and really get inside his head. Many of the other new characters, though, are fairly forgettable. There aren’t any that really stand-out and are memorable and exists to fill in mainly as Blackbeard’s or Barbossa’s crew.
Like I said before, I like how the Pirates series brings to life sailor myths and legends. At the center of the story is Ponce de Leon’s fountain of youth and the aforementioned Blackbeard. But my favorite would be the mermaids. They only appeared briefly, except for Syrena, but their time on screen was exciting. They were mysterious and beautiful, then all of a sudden they became terrifying and dangerous.
One of the running jokes from the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies was whether or not Jack plans his crazy antics or just made it up as he goes along. Unfortunately, this movie spoils that and I feel it takes away some of the mystery of Jack and his charm.
Another thing that bugged me was it doesn’t clearly explain Blackbeard’s powers. It is made clear his sword controls the ropes and rigging, but not necessarily how. Or how it can affect other ships such as the Black Pearl. Or how he zombifies his captains. I know these are small things but I like it when they are explained, even if it is short and simple.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides reels back on some of the elements that hindered previous movies in the series and brings in a mostly new cast. Although many of these characters are mostly forgettable, On Stranger Tides manages to capture the essence what made The Curse of the Black Pearl so enjoyable.
Also check out my reviews for The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest, and At World’s End.
Jack Sparrow: Have I mentioned, sir, what a lovely daughter you have?
Blackbeard: A fitting last sight for a doomed soul.
Angelica: Remember, father, we need him.
Blackbeard: If I don’t kill a man every now and then, they forget who I am.
Philip: Coward! They do not forget. The crew sees you for the miscreant you are. A coward, no matter how many you slay.
Blackbeard: Twice in one day, I find myself in a bewilderment.
Cast & Crew
Rob Marshall – Director
Ted Elliot – Writer
Terry Rossio – Writer
Hans Zimmer – Composer
Johnny Depp – Jack Sparrow
Geoffrey Rush – Barbossa
Penelope Cruz – Angelica
Ian McShane – Blackbeard
Kevin McNally – Gibbs
Sam Claflin – Philip
Astrid Berges-Frisbey – Syrena
Stephen Graham – Scrum
Keith Richards – Captain Teague
Richard Griffiths – King George
Greg Ellis – Groves
Damian O’Hare – Gillette
Oscar Jaenada – The Spaniard