I wasn’t thrilled about seeing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I guess it’s because the movie had a lot to live up to. As the fourth installment of a series that seemed to be waning in the third movie, I pretty much expected it to fall flat. However, even as a viewer who was there primarily to keep my twelve-year-old niece company, I was surprised and pleased with the film that, while not nearly as “big” as the first three despite the addition of 3D, made up for in good story and clarity what it lacked in grandiosity.
Sometimes franchises have a way of getting lost as the stories get longer, especially when it loses characters that were seemingly important to fans. My niece’s big complaint: no Will or Elizabeth. The loss of these characters can result in too much attention to the character that’s left. In the case of Captain Jack Sparrow, a favorite to be sure, too much of a good thing can truly be too much of a good thing. But thankfully, in “On Stranger Tides” Captain Jack is the most likeable and understandable yet. His annoying slur is only minimally present and there is no doubt that he is the good guy in the tale who you want to get the girl in the end.
“On Stranger Tides” works because the story is balanced between Sparrow, Barbosa, and the engaging Angelica (Penelope Cruz), as Black Beard’s daughter. We are even introduced to supporting characters that we come to care about. The side story of a captured mermaid and an imprisoned cleric, though cheesy, kept me and my niece emotionally involved. The character of Black Beard served as enough of a villain to unite Barbosa and Sparrow, and while the search or the fountain of youth didn’t seem as important as plot devices in films past, it still made for an exciting and satisfying end.
So, I guess I have to say I liked it. I wasn’t excited to sit through it, but once there, Johnny drew me in and I found myself legitimately entertained. Arrgh!