The world’s coolest pirate has arrived yet again, sporting his off-red bandana and hoop earrings. With that distinctive gait of his, Jack Sparrow embarks on a quest for the ‘Fountain of Youth’ in the latest installment of the ‘Pirates’ series – On Stranger Tides.
The movie’s plot is inspired from Tim Powers’ novel of the same name. The story entails a three-chariot race to the legendary ‘Fountain of Youth’. Sparrow sets foot in London upon hearing that an impostor has conjured up a journey to the fountain. He is captured by the King’s forces, and meets Captain Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush), now a privateer, who asks him to join their journey to the fountain before the Spanish, who are already chasing the fountain, make it. Sparrow manages a spectacular escape, and meets his original impostor, who in reality was Angelica (Penelope Cruz) – his former love interest. Angelica drugs Sparrow and takes him aboard ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’ – her father, legendary pirate, Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane) ship – which is on also on a quest for the Fountain of Youth. Meanwhile, Barbosa is hot in their heels, duly assisted by Sparrow’s first mate – Gibbs.
Gore Verbinsky has stepped aside for Rob Marshall, who wields the megaphone. The director of flicks like ‘Chicago’, and ‘Nine’, Marshall has given a signature style to this edition of Pirates – especially the action choreography. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are noted by their absence — the onus is entirely on Depp to take the plot forward, and he does it with elan. ‘On Stranger Tides’ is an out and out Jack Sparrow movie. His mannerisms and his endearing camp-gait impresses the viewer. Depp does everything from swinging from a chandelier to scaling palm trees while being tied to it. The best sequence is the initial ‘carriage-hopping’ sequence; the crowd in the theatre applauded wildly to the exquisite stunts, astonishingly, shot on a single-take! Cruz looks just great as the female lead. McShane is menacing evil Blackbeard while Rush ably reprises his role as Barbosa.
Full marks for the action sequences – they’re way ahead of the previous installments in the series. The CGI, coupled with 3D is indeed spectacular. Special mention goes to the mermaids – yes, there are loads of them in the movie. Unlike stereotypes, mermaids in this movie are vindictive and bloodthirsty – even vampire-like (the Twilight effect?), which makes them all the more attractive (Psst, their boobs are up for the grabs, pun intended. 😉 ). 3D is icing in the movie’s cake. Through my viewing experience was hampered by an inferior-quality theatre, I’m sure other viewers might have a better tale to tell.
That said, the film is lengthy, at 136 minutes. The story, in all its tedium, is average, and the meandering script only makes things worse. The plot is, at its best, chaotic. POTC has become a franchise of sorts, in the model of Harry Potter – and the plot for this movie seems tailor-made just to keep the franchise afloat. It hasn’t helped the the story is based on a novel. A lion’s share of action sequences are filmed at night, bringing in a visual tedium of sorts. Yes, your eyes tend to droop for brief spells. (A friend of mine actually slept through half of the movie). The first half, despite the cart-hopping action sequences, drags.
Despite all its shortcomings, ‘On Stranger Tides’ manages to satisfy the average ‘Pirates’ fan, albeit marginally. If you’re a Jack Sparrow fan, the flick is worth a watch. Else, gear yourself for a mishmash of action sequences, amidst a chaotic plot.
My Rating: 5.5/10.