Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
     Just when you thought his mascara would be running about now, Jack Sparrow is back in another "Pirates" sequel. It's number four but who's counting? You can't keep this pirate down prancing about to sandbar to sandbar, in search of the mythic fountain of youth. Johnny Depp doesn't disappoint and keeps us watching. Even though Jack Sparrow doesn't do anything new here. He rolls his eyes and sways and sashays. He wiggles his whiskers as only Jack Sparrow can. As Depp rolls and moves within this salty cartoon, he not only plays a part, but he is Sparrow. Seeing Depp is a joy. His closeups alone are a study in cinematic allure--within every bead or bauble dangling from his gnarly braids, we are transfixed. His pirate antics may not always be Classic, but they are alluring and Chaplinesque. Well worth admission.
     Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones does a surprisingly good turn as Sparrow's Dad.
     "Have you ever been to the fountain?" Sparrow asks.
     "Could a face like this ever have visited the fountain of youth?" replies Richards.
     It is the best line in the film.
     Sure the swordplay gets repetitive. But this time there is Penelope Cruz as Blackbeard's daughter. Not to mention the fearsome Blackbeard himself played by veteran villain actor Ian Mcshane. It's all in the beard and Blackbeard has the fuses to match. Literally.The film has some pointed moments too. There is a young clergyman on board (Sam Claifin) who always brings out the briny sarcasm from Sparrow at his dry best. A pious pirate he's not and thankfully so. That's where all the "Goodie-goodies" go. Jack prefers a "believe as needed" existence. Even serious Sam Harris would find an irreligious chuckle here.
     Disney better watch it.
     What really sells the film, though, are the mermaids. They are voluptual with melting eyes. And by far, the best depiction of mermaids that I've ever seen on film. They would have painter Lord Leighton running for the sea. These mermaids are not Ariel from the famous animated film, they have meat on their bones and vexing smiles that are all business.
     "On Stranger Tides" has enough arabesques of action and silly swills to make you want to lean into The Pirate's Life even after all these yeasty years of seeing a familiar story.Depp is a master of movement and boozy balance.
     Once again, as his beloved Jack Sparrow, Depp's sargassum sojourns make the pirate a paradise.
     Write Ian at

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