Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
piracy and other sins
fabled Fountain of Youth
occult supernaturalism / voodoo / zombies
What is the Occult? Answer
mermaids as dangerous supernatural seducers— see: Timothy’s warning about seducing spirits
importance of Christians boldly confronting evil, protecting the innocent, self-sacrifice, and attempting to save souls
role of Christian evangelist/missionary— boldly declaring the Gospel
importance of concern for other people’s souls and our own
Is good works the way to salvation?
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
|Featuring:||Johnny Depp … Jack Sparrow
Geoffrey Rush … Barbossa
Penélope Cruz … Angelica
Ian McShane … Blackbeard
Roger Allam … Henry Pelham
Gemma Ward … Tamara
Richard Griffiths … King George II
Stephen Graham … Scrum
Sam Claflin … Philip
Astrid Berges-Frisbey … Syrena—Mermaid
Keith Richards … Captain Teague
|Producer:||Jerry Bruckheimer Films
Walt Disney Pictures
Jerry Bruckheimer … producer
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Pictures|
In 2003, Walt Disney Pictures decided to release a film based on one of their amusement park rides. That film was “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”. Considering the source material, not much was expected of the movie. Little did Disney know, they had a serious franchise on their hands. The first “Pirates…” film was praised by critics and loved by audiences, and for good reason. It deftly mixed humor, adventure, and romance into a family-friendly blend of a summer movie. Johnny Depp immediately transformed from independent film darling to worldwide movie star due to his unbelievable turn as Captain Jack Sparrow.
In fact, the only unfortunate product of the film was that it spawned two lack luster sequels, “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End”. While these two films contained the necessary criteria for a summer blockbuster, they were also one big meandering mess that lacked the heart and freshness of the original. While not near the quality of the first, the sequels made almost $1 billion each, assuring the addition of more chapters in the franchise. Needless to say, going into “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, my expectations were low. While still not the caliber of the original, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the fourth entry of this series.
“…Tides” corrected some major problems of the last two sequels, chief of those being the plot. The plot of this film is simple, yet intriguing: the search for the fountain of youth. Captain Jack Sparrow finds himself in the middle of a three ship race for Ponce De Leon’s fabled spring of eternal life. The Spanish are after the fountain to protect its lore. The English have hired Sparrow’s nemesis Captain Barbossa to lead them to the fountain. And finally, the infamous pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, has set sail with his daughter for the fountain to claim everlasting life for his own. This plot is much more direct than that of the two previous “Pirates…” features. It creates a series of excellently staged action sequences, while also leaving plenty of room for Sparrow to get into his usual shenanigans.
The other aspect of “…Tides” that works is the cast. Depp is as good as ever as the cunning Sparrow, and Geoffrey Rush plays Barbossa with plenty of relish. Penélope Cruz is the love interest of Depp, as well as the daughter of Blackbeard, and she fits right in. The best addition to the cast is that of Ian McShane (“Deadwood”) as Blackbeard. McShane is about as good at playing a villain as anyone you will ever see. He is menacing, ruthless, and just about perfect as the world’s most infamous pirate.
While “…Tides” is clearly a huge step in the right direction for the franchise, it still has its issues. One of the side plots in the film is a love story between a passenger on Blackbeard’s ship and a mermaid. This particular plot line is ridiculous, and some of the worst acting and dialogue comes out of these scenes. Also, new director Rob Marshall (“Chicago”) completely overuses the film’s excellent music soundtrack, as it is almost omnipresent from start to finish. While a vast improvement, “…Tides” still cannot recreate the originality of the first movie of the franchise. There are some excellent effects and funny lines, but the film will leave the viewer with a “been there, done that” taste.
The content of “Tides” is on par with that of the previous films in the franchise. There is plenty of violence and several deaths, all of which are mostly bloodless. Some women are seen in corsets and revealing tops. The mermaids in the film appear to be topless, but their torsos are scaly and not human flesh, which gives them a similar effect of the female Navii from “Avatar”. There is also some sexual innuendo present, mostly in the form of flirtation between Depp and Cruz. “…Tides” has a few issues, but is much cleaner than most PG-13 releases.
Just like the previous films of the series, “…Tides” contains its fair share of magic and mysticism. While the pirate Blackbeard was an actual historical figure, the film makes him a master of magic and voodoo. He uses a doll to control Sparrow and, also, has power over his ship. While there is a Christian character represented, the film deals mostly in the realm of fantasy, and thus the viewer should not be surprised by nods to voodoo pirates or flying vampire mermaids. Also, anyone that has seen any of the “Pirates…” films will know that while Sparrow is the protagonist, he is still a pirate first and does not behave in a manner suitable for mimicking.
The fourth film in a franchise usually is not good, much less great. Take into account the quality of its predecessors and the chance for a good film diminishes greatly. Surprisingly, this movie puts the “Pirates…” franchise back on track and restores much of the shine that has been missed since the original. For teens and adults, “…Tides” is a fun adventure with great special effects. A step below the first, but miles ahead of the next two, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is a solid addition to the franchise.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.