Ahoy, me harteys!
This be yer friendly reviewing buccaneer digging up for ye another buried treasure.
And today, I be giving ye scalawags another doubloon-of-a-review by analyzing "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strangers Tides".
Here be the rundown of it *clears throat back to normal voice*:
During his search for the legendary Fountain of Youth, Jack Sparrow suddenly crosses paths with an element from his past: Angelica. An old flame of Jack, who kidnaps him and takes him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, a ship commandeered by the despicable Blackbeard. And apparently, they too are after the fountain, and they want Jack to lead them to it since he knows the way.
As the journey progresses, though, Jack finds himself having unusual feelings towards Angelica, and he can't help but wonder who he should fear more. Blackbeard? Or Angelica?
Meanwhile, other parties are also after the Fountain of Youth: A party of the Spanish government. And a party of the British government, the latter whom is lead by Hector Barbossa, who for some reason went from pirate to privateer.
Who will reach the Fountain of Youth first? The pirates? Spanish? Or British?
And more importantly, will Jack be able to work out what's going on with him? Is working for the British really what Barbossa wants to do?
I really must admit, the last couple of times I saw this movie, I had rather neutral feelings towards it at the most. But, when I saw it once again recently...it grew on me. I enjoyed it more than on the other times I saw it, and I think a large reason was because I was much more awake.
Here's why I found it to be such an enjoyable film and sequel:
Helming the director's chair, Rob Marshall is definitely not Gore Verbinski, but he did a brilliant job at bringing in his own sense of fun and intrigue to this member of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, which is especially aided by the equally eye-catching story and screenplay by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio.
Similar to the installments directed by Gore Verbinski, the film is what I'd like to call an example of something that is perfectly character-driven. Rossio and Elliot's ability to make something all over the place tie together so well also doesn't cease itself either, because in my opinion, the very element that was able to glue everything together, to help things make sense and be understandable, was the Fountain of Youth and the quest to find it.
In terms of the film's tone, I will admit that the humor aspect of it didn't get me laughing out loud like the previous films did. However, the comedy still proved to be really sharp and fun, and it's even funny enough to earn some good-hearted chuckles and giggles. The dramatic tension that the film had was also well-played, and even though it isn't as dark as the 2nd and 3rd films, the dark and thrilling aspects were great too. The romantic developments between Jack and Angelica, and Philip Swift and Syrena the Mermaid, likewise aided the film in having heart.
Among other things, I couldn't help but find myself taking note of the cinematography that was used for the film. I thought it was really unique, and it helped the film be able to stand apart from its predecessors all-the-more.
The film's special effects were additionally impressive. The particular standouts, to me, were the parts with the dewdrop going upward into the fountain's cave entrance, and when the water from the fountain encircles some of the characters. Also astounding was the CGI used with the ship's ropes before they attacked the mutineers. I can hardly comprehend how it was done and if the ropes were real or not.
Han Zimmer's music score, like his work in the 2nd and 3rd film, was as epic as ever in this movie. Every step of the way, Zimmer was able to give this sequel a resonance that made everything feel so heart pounding. For instance, in the moments before danger strikes, there would be a spine-tingling sense of thrills. The choir singings that were incorporated in the film were parts that I found aided the music in having a sense of emotion.
Finally, it all comes down to the acting, casting, characters, and character development.
To start off, I was admittedly unsure about the character of Philip Swift, mainly because it was hard to tell whether his inclusion as a Catholic missionary was either insulting or the opposite of that. But then, seeing the film again to make this review, I just couldn't get over the character's amount of purity, honesty, and kindness. He proved to nevertheless be essential in driving the plot along, and thanks to having a more awake mind, I found the character to be the opposite of insulting to all Christian missionaries. Sam Claflin also performed his character magnificently, and his character had excellent development throughout the film.
Each taking the lead in a role that was previously occupied by Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, Jack Sparrow and Angelica were definitely quite the life of the party. Johnny Depp was still as delightful and funny as ever in the role of Sparrow, and Penelope Cruz gave a definite feistiness and energy to Angelica that made her equally fun. I especially admired how in-step they were with one another, as well as the growing caring side and sense of compassion from each character.
Geoffrey Rush and his character of Hector Barbossa were likewise quite the attention grabbers. Every step of the way, I couldn't help but find myself noting how much Barbossa had been continually evolving throughout the film as a character, transforming himself into someone stronger and more complex than ever before. Additionally, Geoffrey Rush incorporated a marvelous sense of humor into the character, and portrayed Barbossa with a sense of retaining the old while also bringing in something new.
And finally, Ian McShane did a brilliant job at portraying Blackbeard, and his character was quite an intimidating force to be reckoned with. Among other things, I admired how McShane was able to portray a character who's heart was as black as his beard, while also bringing a sense of complexity and dark sense of humor to Blackbeard. I think what makes the character click the most, out of all things, is that he wants to control the destinies and fates of himself and everyone around him, especially to defy higher powers like Jesus. It's something that I find reflects the desires a great many others have, to be their own masters and the masters of others with nothing else to control them, like dogs without a leash or an owner.
In conclusion, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" turned out to be a really fun installment to the series, thanks to it retaining the old while working itself as something new and intriguing at the same time. It's especially entertaining to watch when you're not too sleepy, that's for sure.
So, I rate "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" five out of five stars.