Latest ‘Pirates’ Installment Proves Sequels can Hold Their Own

By Morgan Fletcher –

The latest installment in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series is sure to send youngsters who anxiously awaited its arrival away happy, as well as older fans, too.

In the same fashion as its predecessors, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, showcases the more mature side of Disney imagination as its rating is PG-13.

Pirates does not disappoint, however, as it is full of action, comedy, and even glimpses of horror. 

The only thing missing from the latest addition is most of the leading cast from the previous films.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides movie poster. Photo courtesy imdb

The beloved Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp, is still the same old sly, up-to-no good pirate as before.  Absent from the movie are Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner and Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann, key components to the first three films.

Director Rob Marshall does a nice job of filling their spaces by throwing into the mix an old, and possibly current, love interest of Sparrow’s, Angelica Malon, played by Penelope Cruz.

Cruz’s almost identical sister but three years her junior, Monica Cruz, played as a body double because Penelope was pregnant during filming.

Other new faces include Malon’s long-lost father, Blackbeared, played by Ian McShane.  Captive missionary Philip Swift (Sam Claflin) is also introduced, as is the mermaid he falls in love with, Syrena, played by Spanish-French actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey, who makes her English-language debut.

Returnees include Sparrow’s father Captain Teague (Keith Richards), his former sailing confidant Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally) and his old nemesis Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

All in all, the plot structure of the film is well done.

Sparrow has a run-in with Angelica, who reveals herself as his impersonator after the two have a sword match in the back of a bar. Angelica leads him to the ruthless Blackbeard and his crew full of grotesque sailors.  

The talk around the world is that a Fountain of Youth exists, thus there is fierce competition to reach it first and reap from its magic.

Because Blackbeard knows of Sparrow’s keen sailing and pirating expertise, he forces him to lead the way in an expedition to find the fountain.

A few escape attempts and a mermaid attack later, Blackbeard’s crew, under Sparrow’s direction, reach the fountain.  There, they encounter Barbossa, who is under orders of the British monarchy, and the Spanish who wish to destroy the fountain.

A full-on fight occurs between the opposing forces but somehow in the middle of it all, Sparrow is able to take possession of the two chalices needed for the magic of the fountain to work.

Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and Philip Swift (Sam Claflin). Photo courtesy

It is learned that in order for a user to take advantage of the fountain’s powers, a mermaid’s tear must be in the gulp that the user swallows as well as the water of the fountain itself.  A tear from the stubborn mermaid Syrena, who was abducted during the attack, was earlier obtained.

Both Blackbeard and Angelica are wounded in battle.  Only one of them will be able to survive by the fountain’s powers.

Sparrow, with possession of both chalices, has knowledge of which one contains Syrena’s tear and which does not.

Angelica is willing to sacrifice herself for her father, so she drinks the chalice believed to not contain the tear.

Sparrow always has a trick up his sleeve, however, as he knowingly gives Angelica the chalice with the tear.

Thus, she lives and her father perishes.

The movie ends with a cliffhanger as she reveals that she is pregnant with Sparrow’s child, so there’s no telling what craziness the next installment will entail.

Maybe a future Captain Jack is in the works, complete with his father’s witty, trouble-making spirit.

The beginning of the film was slow and could have picked up a bit so that it’s two hour, 17 mintue run time was reduced.  The fun-filled action scenes and whimsical lines made up for it, however, and it definitely delivered.