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Film Review: Entertaining ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’

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CHICAGO – It’s easy to remember that the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series is on its fourth formulaic film, but harder to remember that it’s based on a freaking amusement park ride! Director Rob Marshall livens it up with “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

The latest romp goes back to its roots somewhat, relying more on an intriguing narrative notion – the search for the Fountain of Youth – and less on the gaudy and distracting special effects for the sake of effects. Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow character seems more relaxed and focused, and adding Penélope Cruz as a romantic rival adds a spark that fills the void of the endless pirate routine and wink-at-the-camera jokes.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) is captured by the 18th century British authority, and forced by the crown to embark on a journey based on a map in his possession…the route to the Fountain of Youth. It seems that Spain is in on the chase, and the Brits want the magic waters all for their own. The monarchy has even recruited Sparrow’s pirate rival, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to captain the ship, Sparrow to be his guide. Naturally, Captain Jack makes his escape.

Forced to go underground, Sparrow hears of a rogue ship about to get into the Fountain race. It turns out to be piloted by an old lover, Angelica (Penélope Cruz), and captained by the notorious Blackbeard (Ian McShane). She forces Jack to come along and provides him with key information on how the Fountain of Youth works. It seems that they must find two chalices that once belonged to Spanish explorer Ponce De León, fill them at the Fountain and add the tear of a Mermaid to one of them.

This leads the three diverging missions to Whitecap Bay, where the Mermaids are there for the capture, but is only Syrena (Astrid Bergés-Frisbey) that is apprehended, by the missionary Philip Swift (Sam Claflin). Their pure ardor for each other will activate the key element necessary to obtain the magic tear (she ain’t crying for nothing), and the final confrontation of all interests will occur directly at the youth revitalizing destination.

”Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” opens everywhere May 20th. See local listings for 3D showings. Featuring Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally, Sam Claflin, Gemma Ward, Astrid Bergés-Frisbey and Keith Richards. Screenplay by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, directed by Rob Marshall. Rated “PG

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “ Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow) and Penélope Cruz (Angelica) in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’
Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow) and Penélope Cruz (Angelica) in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’
Photo credit: Peter Mountain for © Disney Enterprises

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “ Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

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