|"Ah, Jack Sparrow." |
"There should be a 'Captain' in there somewhere."
Captain Jack Sparrow is back and better than ever! No spoilers in this review, by the way, or at least nothing that you haven't seen in promos and trailers.
The premise of this fourth POTC movie is the search for the Fountain of Youth, but most people won't care whether they actually get there as long as there's plenty of colorful characters and swashbuckling antics along the way--which, of course, there are. Come on, this is Captain Jack after all! Penelope Cruz joins the cast as Angelica, Jack's former lover-turned-pirate, adding some spice to the story with a smart, strong female presence to balance out the male-dominated storyline. Think you'll miss Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom? Think again. Sparrow hits the ground running and it's easy to forget Will and Elizabeth (even if you were fond of them to begin with, which I wasn't) in the midst of the rapid-fire jokes and action. Geoffrey Rush nails the wily ways of Barbossa, who temporarily drops the pirate life in favor of a commission from the English king. He is sent to find the Fountain of Youth before the Spanish do--and before Blackbeard does. Jack and Angelica become part of Blackbeard's crew as well, since Angelica is Blackbeard's first mate and daughter. Ian McShane, by the way, is eerie, immoral, and perfectly dislikeable as Blackbeard, the perfect foil to Depp's quirky, savvy, and joke-cracking Captain Jack. In any case, that leaves three groups chasing after the Fountain: the English military (led by Barbossa), Blackbeard with Jack and Angelica, and the Spanish.
Honestly, the overarching plot is pretty pointless. Finding the Fountain of Youth? Who cares? There are no stakes and therefore no interest. But the excellent acting and fast-moving action make this a highly enjoyable romp nonetheless. The cinematography, directing, editing, soundtrack, and costumes are all brilliantly well-done, and the cast of vivid characters is by far the film's strongest point. Two other notable additions to the cast are Astrid Berges-Frisbey, as the gorgeously ethereal mermaid captured by the pirates for a Fountain-activating ritual, and Sam Claflin, as a good-hearted, passionate, and predictably attractive missionary. "Syrena" and "Philip's" inter-species romance unfolds with enchanting purity and captivating chemistry. Some might find their storyline cheesy, but it's well-planned, woven carefully throughout the movie--it's more well-planned, in fact, than the main plot. Anyway, this is a great film as long as you can suspend disbelief--believe that finding the Fountain is important and that our heroes can maneuver cleverly and comically through every danger without a scratch. A real-life person obviously wouldn't be able to catapult himself on a palm tree or carriage-surf, but POTC is intended to be larger-than-life. Jerry Bruckheimer makes no attempt at realism, and under that assumption POTC 4 is a great movie. Focus on the characters and comedy-packed action, don't nitpick, and you'll probably like it a lot. I definitely did! Looking forward to Pirates 5.