With On Stranger Tides, we find Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) without a ship and crew (as usual). Now in London, England, helping Gibbs (Kevin McNally) escape imprisonment only to fall back into custody and be reunited with none other than Capt. Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Barbosa just happens to now be a respected Imperial Naval Captain; however peg-legged, having lost his leg when the Black Pearl sank! (What?) Soon Jack escapes (again!) and finds Angelica Malon ( Penélope Cruz), a former love-interest. Jack finds himself aboard the infamous Queen Anne's Revenge, under the command of the most feared pirate of the seas: "Blackbeard", a.k.a. Edward Teach (Ian McShane), who apparently possess some sort of supernatural power?! We soon find out that not only is it going to be difficult to find the fountain but, in order to take advantage of it's youth granting gifts they need to embark on a seemingly pointless quest to recover two silver chalices from the original ship of Ponce de Leon and also the tear of a mermaid!? As we realize this is a Disney movie after all and as Blackbeard's crew try to find a mermaid, we half expect Ariel from Disney's animated The Little Mermaid (1989) to pop out of the water at anytime, but instead we get beautiful, exotic, golden-tailed mermaids...that turn into ravenous, fanged, monsters! Now the race has begun as three different groups set sail in search for the "Fountain of Youth": Blackbeard, Barbossa, AND The Spanish? However, the Spanish do not seem to present much of a threat to our heroes for most of the movie.
This movie is surprisingly very different from the other "Pirates" movies. Possibly the biggest change is the choice of director, that being Rob Marshall (Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Chicago (2002)) and NOT Gore Verbinski, who directed the last three "Pirates" movies. While the other Pirates movies had very original stories and characters; this movie has by far the weakest of all! The most bizarre aspect of this story is that it is not entirely "Disney", as the movie gives credit to the 1987 novel On Stranger Tides written by Tim Powers, for which it is "loosely" based. The original novel is about John "Jack Shandy" Chandagnac, the son of a puppeteer who travels to the New World only to be attacked by pirates and ends up joining a pirate crew to save a damsel. The novel and movie have many differences in plot and characters, the only similarities are Blackbeard and The Fountain of Youth! You would think Disney had tons of writers at their disposal to come up with an original story but NO, instead they have to "borrow" from a novel from 25 years ago to which they now own the rights!
I'm a fan of the "Pirates" movies and some part of me awaited the release of this movie with joy, while another part would have been more than happy to have settled with the original trilogy. Like many film franchises, when will enough be enough. Rumors are already stirring about two more Pirates movies after this one...when will it end? Until movie audiences are finally fed up with seeing the same old thing or the franchise becomes unprofitable...when will the billion-dollar Pirates ship sink and who's career will go down with the ship? Bloom and Knightly are already out of the picture and before Depp is at risk of being type-cast as the effeminate pirate for life!
"Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirates' life for me...?"