This has the the most coherent plot of any of the movies in the franchise, to date. “Pirates 4” centres around a three way dash by the Spanish, the English and the pirates to grab control of the famed Fountain of Youth.
Derived from a novel which I will never read, even on an airplane, it all hangs together nicely. Scenes flow into each other without the clumsy cuts of the second and third films.
Ponce de Leon’s search for the fountain was one of the fairy tales of my youth. Many people have been intrigued by this idea and there were real searches for it, usually in Florida. The idea passed into popular mythology.
Johnny Depp reprises his Captain Jack Sparrow role with even more great gusto, camp enjoyment and channeling of Keith Richards than before. The Rolling Stone himself puts in a fun cameo.
Geoffrey Rush plays Barbossa, again and Ian McShane has a snide villain’s touch as Blackbeard. Penelope Cruz – very obviously heavily pregnant in some scenes – brings depth and style to the heroine’s role. She fights with and against the boys and has adventures. She is just wonderful to watch.
Oscar Jaenada and Richard Griffiths gave the other two extraordinary performances, albeit both were on screen too briefly. Younger women will go for Sam Claflin in a big way as he brings charisma to his role as a religious man.
There are malevolent mermaids, a couple of little love stories and fantastic sword fights and chases. The scenery – mostly Hawaii but a little of London – all looks gorgeous.
Of all the Disney rides, Pirates of the Caribbean is my favourite. There’s an enchantment that keeps that independent buccaneer ideal alive, long after Errol Flynn’s death. Flynn played the original pirate hero, but Depp has brought an energy to his portrayal that younger viewers will find it easier to identify with.
However, we have strayed a long way from actual pirates, in “4”. Mostly, it’s about competing groups and I do miss the pirate towns and alternative lifestyles featured in the original “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, especially when these were compared with conventional lives.
We start out in London where Sparrow is about to be hanged for piracy, after a trial of sorts. Then, we swoop into great gallops of adventure. The horse race stunts are superb, even with the obvious CGI effects. I was reminded of the drama of “Ben Hur” during the chariot races.
After these initial scenes, we are at sea with plenty of sword fights and action sequences. The 3D is really good and enhances the story and the luscious photography.
It’s more than two hours long, but it only has a few long moments. These pass quickly into even more big action.
The Stratford Picturehouse audience had mixed reactions. A third were really into it. A third fidgeted. And a third wavered between the two.
Heck, I just really love these movies. I am going to see it again and looking forward to “5”. Bravo, Disney.