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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » June 30, 2011
Film review
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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
June 30, 2011   
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After directing the first three installments of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, Gore Verbinski handed the job over to Robert Marshall (Nine, Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha). Apparently, Verbinski got tired of the series and stopped believing that the screenwriters could add anything new to the story. As far as he was concerned, doing the same old thing all over again was pointless. As it turns out, Verbinski was only half-right. Admittedly, the script is hardly inventive, but the movie is nevertheless enjoyable, as shown by its successful run at the box office.

As the movie begins, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp—Chocolat, Finding Neverland, The Ninth Gate) finds himself in London, as non-Caribbean a location as you can get. After he rescues his former second-in-command Gibbs (Kevin McNally—Valkyrie, Johnny English) from some serious trouble at a court of law, he unexpectedly winds up before King George II (Richard Griffiths—Harry Potter series), no less. The king orders Sparrow, or at least tries to order him, to embark on a quest to find the legendary Fountain of Youth, on behalf of the Crown. The quest is an urgent matter, because Spain has heard of the fountain as well and deployed an expedition of its own. Alas, the king does not designate Sparrow to be the captain this time and instead, the man on the royal ship’s bridge is Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush—Shine, Munich, The King’s Speech), Sparrow’s nemesis. Over the years, Barbossa has lost both his left leg and the Black Pearl, the ship which he and Sparrow used to own together.

Under such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Sparrow does not feel like taking the job at all. Then he finds out that somebody pretending to be him is recruiting a crew for the Fountain of Youth quest. The impostor turns to be a woman by the name of Angelica (Penelope Cruz—Nine, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Volver), the daughter of Blackbeard (Ian McShane—Sexy Beast, The Pillars of the Earth TV series), a baleful pirate feared even by others of his ilk. Apart from being a villain, Blackbeard is into voodoo and owns a magic saber with which he can control the sails and ropes on the ship whenever he needs to change course—or hang mutineers by the neck or legs.

Sparrow gets tricked and ends up on Blackbeard’s ship, where he soon realizes that Blackbeard is after the legendary fountain himself in order to escape a prophecy which has him die at the hand of a man with a wooden leg. That man looks set to be Barbossa who, defeated by Blackbeard in the past, is now craving revenge. That is why he has covered the blade of his sword in a toxic mucus excreted by tiny Amazon frogs, a poison for which there is no antidote.

Racing to find the Fountain of Youth are Barbossa as the king’s privateer, Blackbeard and his daughter, three Spanish galleons and Sparrow who, being who he is, forms temporary allies with whoever he sees fit. Then there are also dangerous mermaids who will attack anybody who dares enter their waters.

Fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise should not be disappointed by the fourth installment. The special effects (the movie has also been released in 3D) are impressive and several scenes, including the attack of the mermaids, are truly memorable. The score by Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Lion King, The Crimson Tide), based on the previous parts of the series, has been enriched with several new themes, interpretations and instrumentations. All in all, the movie’s 146 minutes are fun and race by.
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