Continuing along with the Summer 2011 movie viewing, next on deck is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the latest installment to the blockbuster film franchise starring Johnny Depp. With the previous movie, At World's End, being rather ... bleh, could anyone really expect much from what is easily the most blatant show of Hollywood Farmers milking their prize Cash Cow? No. Would you then be surprised by the outcome? Very!
My friend Wendi says that she did not miss Orlando Bloom nor Keira Knightley at all, and I completely agree. In all honestly, they were the least interesting aspects the previous films, except from when they played off of Depp's Jack Sparrow, so whatever void they left was easily filled by newcomer to the series, Penelope Cruz as Angelica Malon, who may or may not be the daughter of Blackbeard, played by Ian McShane, and the always awesome Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa, stepping into a more central character role.
Spanish sailors discover a trail to what could possibly be the Fountain of Youth, legacy of famed explorer Ponce de Leon, and when the British catch wind, they immediately dispatch Barbossa, now a captain in the British Navy, to procure the spoils in their name. Also on the hunt is the dread pirate Blackbeard who seeks the Fountain for his own means, with the haplessly uber effective Jack Sparrow dragged along for the ride and thrust into the middle of the conflict.
Pirates 4 found a BIG return to what made the 1st film so good. Tons of swashbuckling, SUPER funny without crossing that line into eye-rolling obnoxiousness, the magical with hints of historical reference, and Jack Sparrow being Jack Sparrow. Everyone was terrific, from the major to the minor, and the 3D was EXCELLENT. The best live-action use of the tech since Avatar.
So the verdict? I Loved it. Great use of story and effects to make you wish you were out at the high seas on some crazy adventure alongside Jack and crew. Loved the return old characters like Barbossa as well as the new like McShane's sinister Blackbeard, who made an outstanding villain. The only small gripe may have been the running time. Pushing 2 and half hours, they could have shaved a bit off and tightened it up, but otherwise? Definitely on par with the 1st two Pirates films, and is going to be tough to beat this summer.