Pirates of the Caribbean : On Stranger Tides
The fourth installment of this series recovers some of the swagger and fun of the earlier versions, perhaps because of the welcome addition of Penelope Cruz. Sheís a good foil for Johnny Depp, literally and figuratively---their opening swordfight is pretty entertaining, as well. And, after that, itís more like verbal sparring, but we enjoy the perpetual dueling, anyway.
Our intrepid Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) finds himself stuck in London , without a crew or a ship. But he has a map, and the promise of a grand quest for any adventurer: the Fountain of Youth! Yes, the same one Po.nce De Leon tried in vain to discover in all his tramping over the jungles of the New World .
After a couple of tongue-in-cheek chase scenes (Depp is a natural at self-parody), our Charlie Chaplin-esque Captain Jack finds himself imprisoned on somebody elseís pirate ship---the infamous, notorious Blackbeard (wondrously impersonated by Ian McShane), and his black-hearted daughter, Angelica (the still-strikingly beautiful Penelope Cruz). His old nemesis, Barbossa (the inimitable Geoffrey Rush) is at first captured right along with Sparrow (Blackbeard has a magic sword working for him), so they form an unlikely alliance to try to get to the legendary Fountain of Youth before Blackbeard, or the dastardly English, or the officious Spanish. Along the way, they have to overcome the heart-stoppingly lovely mermaids, who, after enticing you into the sea with them, will make your heart stop, all right----by dragging you to the bottom and sucking the blood out of you! Vampire mermaid sirens? Because the water from the fountain has to be mixed with a mermaidís tear in order for the elixir to become potent, and mermaids are a particularly unemotional lot?
Well, naturally, itís all in jest. Depp adds his playful energy to this grandiose pirateís yarn thatís just plain fun to watch. Itís much more adventure than romance, though the romantic tension is obvious---itís just that ďrealĒ pirates donít really have time to settle down, anyway. Theyíre too busy enjoying being bad boys together. Itís the 18th-century equivalent of a motorcycle gang. And there is just enough wanderlust in the average civilized dude to thrill at the spectacle of full sail with a favorable trade wind and a sharp saber and the enticement of the open seas. As Captain Jack Sparrow says, ďItís a pirateís life for me.Ē
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor, United Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas