By Scott Martin
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, USA, 2011
Directed by Rob Marshall
In what could be called “Captain Jack and the Last Crusade,” we say goodbye to Will and Elizabeth Turner (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, respectively) and hello to a more expensive look, drearier set pieces, and a more puzzling plot line. However, one benefit of the Pirates films is that no matter how twisted the story may be, and no matter how questionable things may get, everything seems to fall into place. The franchise has always had a firm rooting in faith, spirituality and things seemingly happening for a reason, with the hint of a moral compass always guiding the way, so in that aspect the film gives itself room to take outlandish turns, so long as everything fits. On Stranger Tides is certainly no exception to this rule, but At World’s End (2007) had that market cornered.
I have to say, and I know I’m one of the few, but I missed seeing Bloom and Knightley side by side with Johnny Depp. I always took them to be the crux of the trilogy, especially because their stories were the forefront: them meeting, discovering more about their pasts, getting married, having a baby, etc., all while Captain Jack Sparrow gets himself in one scrape and out of another. But, inevitably, their story drew to an end in At World’s End, giving this film more of a chance to focus on Sparrow’s past – lost love, old friendships, all that. As the film opens, Captain Jack (Depp, as savvy as ever) impersonates a British judge to escape hanging for crimes he may or may not have committed, though he probably did; he’s just not ready to hang for them. The opening of the film tells us this: Jack is in London looking for a ship and a crew. This is true, but not in the sense that everyone thinks it is; in fact, it’s an impostor posing as Jack. Her name is Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and she’s the only one with enough guts to impersonate the infamous captain and get away with it. She’s an old love, or as close as Jack has gotten to it. Meanwhile, Jack is looking for the Fountain of Youth. The catch is, so is the Spanish kingdom, the British Navy, helmed by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, back from the first film and looking barely alive), and Blackbeard (the performance of the film, from Ian McShane), along with his daughter, Angelica. Spoiler? Not really. Read More