Doctor's Review of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The shortest and just about most entertaining of the four Pirates voyages so far. 'Shortest' is a relative term though, still easily eclipsing the 2-hour mark. Sure, there's no Orlando Bloom - he's not really missed to be honest. The bigger boots, figuratively speaking, to be filled are those of Keira Knightley, and they found the right feet attached to the body of Penelope Cruz. She brings a more earthy, and frankly more believable, presence as the lone woman awash among seamen (everyone has to use that pun sometime, at least I waited until film #4). After all, has Keira ever won an Oscar?? Didn't think so.
Of course the real reason to watch is for Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow - sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow - who again delivers in spades. Most movie characters grow staler with each sequel but Depp keeps Sparrow unpredictable and engaging. What I like about Sparrow is that he's not particularly brave or intelligent, instead he survives by his wiles and would much rather talk his way but of a fix rather than fight.
The quest this time is to find the Fountain of Youth. The story isn't the best of the series and plods a little here & there but I enjoyed Stranger Tides a degree more than Dead Man's Chest and At World's End because the script is the best of them all with many funny lines and fashions a great rapport between Depp & Cruz. Furthermore, Ian McShane as Blackbeard is the best and meanest villain Sparrow has faced, harboring an unwavering cruelty that gives Tides a leaner edge. That is to say, the moments of danger really feel dangerous this time because we get an uneasy sense this pirate is capable of anything.
Throw in Geoffrey Rush back at his "ARRR-matey!" best and a fun Keith Richards cameo and this series certainly remains plenty seaworthy.
"Admit it Jack, you still love me!"
"If you had a sister and a dog, I'd choose the dog."