2011-05-20

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Well, On Fairly Familiar Tides

by Yo Snyder

Who would have ever thought that a movie based on a ride at a theme
park would spawn three sequels, make over a billion dollars worldwide,
revive a long-dead movie genre, and create one of cinemas most beloved
characters? Im guessing pretty much no one except for Jerry
Bruckheimer. In any event, the fourth film in the wildly popular Pirates of the Caribbean
series is here, but the question is: should you set sail with good ol
captain Jack yet again? That really depends on how much youve missed
him in the four years since his last adventure, as all of this feels
fairly familiar and not really all that strange at all. Thats too bad,
to. Strange could have reinvigorated the franchise. As it is, its
coasting on familiarity. But that doesnt mean it isnt somewhat fun.

Ill be honest: I just felt like there was something missing in this
movie. Captain Jack was still fun to watch, although his schtick is
almost too familiar at this point and itd be nice to see his character
grow, develop or change a bit. The humor was all pretty good and very
true to the characters and the series, as were the exotic locales,
elements of the supernatural and magical, and the colorful cast of
supporting characters. Ian McShane does a solid job as Blackbeard, but
his character really isnt given enough to do or enough bite to make him
standout the way Davey Jones did. In truth, though, I think the real
missing element was in the action. It all felt fairly perfunctory (the
exception being amazing scenes of When Mermaids Attack). Characters
would go here, do this and then have a sword fight. Then theyd go there
and talk about that, and oh yeah, lets do another sword fight. The
action lacked that breezy, swashbuckling flair of the previous films,
especially the first two. The action was just I dont know it wasnt
what it was like in the other movies, and therefore this one never got
to that next level of fun, excitement, and adventure.

This time out, as was suggested at the end of the last movie,
everyone is out looking for the Fountain of Youth. Cool idea, but Ill
be honest, most of the characters motivations for doing so were fairly
contrived. Still, as Captain Sparrow says, Its not the destination,
its the journey. The
journey is fun, Im just not sure why they all felt compelled to take
it. Then again, the lure of eternal life is pretty powerful. Truth is
were obsessed with the subject. All of those products to help us look
and feel younger, all the procedures and surgeries, the cosmetics and
the diets; its all in the pursuit of staving of old age as long as
possiblethe pursuit of eternal life. Fascinatingly, one of the
characters in the film makes a very profound and True statement in
declaring, Only God can grant eternal life.

Thats a bold statement thats quickly undermined (Or is it? The
restorative powers of the fountain are never truly explained as being
eternal, but more the years of another.) by the events of the film.
However, the Bible agrees with the idea. 1 John 5:11 tells us God has
given us eternal life; and this life is in his Son [Jesus]. Heres the
cool thing: eternal life can be attained, but it can only be attained
one way. Whats interesting is that, if I were to say that one way is
through the Fountain of Youth, people would set off in droves to
discover where it is. But when one says that one way is through Jesus
Christ, one is accused of being narrow minded and exclusionary.
There is one way to eternal life, but there is a way. Its not
through a fountain, it is through Jesus Christ. It isnt hidden, its
been made very clear. You dont need a secret map, you just need a
common Bible. However, the movies version of discovering eternal life
and the Bibles version do have one thing in common; its a great
adventure.

Early on in the movie, Jack Sparrow faces off against someone whos
impersonating him. The imposter has the moves, has the swagger, has the
skills, but just isnt the genuine article. Thats kind of way I felt
about On Stranger Tides. It had everything necessary to make it a Pirates of the Caribbean
movie, but it was just lacking something to make it feel like the
genuine article. Maybe it was all the little thingslackluster action,
needless sub-plots that lead nowhere, characters that havent hardly
changed since the first moviethat added up to making the whole feel
hollow. Yeah, it was still funny, and occasionally it had some fun
moments of excitement, but I left the theater with an expectation of
something that went unmet. If theres to be a Pirates 5, it needs to do something that gives the franchise new life. It can be done. Weve seen it just this summer with Fast Five.
However, barring some sort of radical new course for the franchise, I
think its time to let Captain Jack Sparrow sail off into the sunset.
Weve had some grand adventures, and this last one was still fun but it
just lacked the spark of Sparrows first swagger on screen. (Oh, and if
youre wondering why I didnt mention anything about the movie being in
3D, well, thats because it doesnt matter; so if you do see it, save
yourself a couple bucks.)

Guide Rating: 4/7