Movie review: Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides (2011)

The fourth movie in the spectacular Pirates of the Caribbean series has most definitely lived up to its hype, being just as (if not more) action packed and exciting than its critically acclaimed predecessors.

Set a couple of years after the events of the previous movie, this outing sees Captain Jack Sparrow on the hunt for the legendary Fountain of Youth. He is lassoed by Angelica, one of his former lovers, into the crew of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, captained by her father: the ruthless pirate Blackbeard.

Having had his death foretold, Blackbeard and Jack join forces in order to find the Fountain of Youth, and the pair begins to plan how to find the two chalices required activate the Fountains powers. The ritual states that two people are required to activate the Fountains. Both chalices must be filled with water, but in one of them must be placed the tear of a mermaid. The person who drinks from the chalice containing the tear receives all of the years of life from the person drinking from the other chalice.

Meanwhile Jacks right hand man Joshamee Gibbs has been arrested and forced into helping former pirate Captain Hector Barbossa into finding the Fountain of Youth too. Since the end of the previous movie, Barbossa has lost both the Black Pearl – and his leg, to Blackbeard. He has become a privateer to the British Navy and as such works under the command of King George II. However Barbossa’s pirate side soon begins to shine through and it is soon revealed that he has no actual desire to reach the Fountain, and that his true objective is to confront Blackbeard for taking his ship.

There is an epic showdown between the pirates towards the end of the film, and Jack is forced to make one of the hardest decisions of his life…become ‘the immortal Captain Jack Sparrow’ or save the love of his life.

Once again, the casting in the film is brilliant. Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Kevin McNally are joined by newcomers Ian McShane (Blackbeard) and Penélope Cruz (Angelica). The previous movies have had some fantastic bad guys. The Curse of the Black Pearl had Barbossa, and Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End had Davy Jones, but having Blackbeard thrown into the mix makes it even more difficult to choose a favourite between the three.

Aside from the obvious protagonists, the movie keeps the line between good guys and bad guys blurred, and constantly has Jack altering his allegiances and flitting between sides. It keeps you slightly confused as to who you should really be rooting for. Not that that’s a bad thing at all!

The film has plenty in it for everyone: There’s the action and adventures for the kids and there’s a great plot and cast for the adults (not to mention Penélope Cruz for them men and Jonny Depp for the women!) While there has been worry that making a fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series may be a step too far, after viewing it a can assure you that it’s not. If you liked the previous three films, the sun, sea and swashbuckling adventures of On Stranger Tides will certainly not disappoint.

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