Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides

I am the honourary aunt of the delightful Miss Fields: Kimia,10 and Merzhad,12. We spent last afternoon in the land of pirates and mermaids, at the latest installment of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise.

I had only seen "Pirates" I on television some years back. My older nieces love this franchise, and after yesterday's pleasurable outing, I can see why. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow is a 21st century swashbuckling hero: a Douglas Fairbanks Jr. to this generation of young ladies.

Jerry Bruckheimer and his cohort have thrown money around here like gold in Ponce de Leone's lost ship. The lavish outlay allows viewers to be treated to fabulous art direction, fantastic duelling sequences and a great international cast of actors, including the likes of Dame Judi Dench (as a grande dame with a great one-liner) and Keith Richards("does this face look like it's seen the Fountain of Youth?"). The first alluring and dangerous mermaid to float siren-like to the surface is none other than Vogue regular Gemma Ward. Classy.

In this chapter, Jack Sparrow escapes the gallows, only to be abducted by a purely evil pirate, Blackbeard (Ian McShane looking like Rasputin)and his lovely and dangerous daughter (Penelope Cruz). Blackbeard, the British Crown, (headed by a hilarious Geoffrey Rush, as a pirate trying to "go straight" and work for the King) and the Spaniards are in a three way race to the legendary Fountain of Youth.

The film churns out action, excitement and witty one-liners. Underpinning all this merry mayhem is a not uninteresting meditation on fate and mortality.

There's a lovely secondary story involving a missionary, Philip(Sam Clafin) and a mermaid (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) about the true nature of faith and love. Some have suggested Philip comes to an unhappy end with his beloved Serena but I believe the Paradise in his heart was his in her arms.

The kids I was with enjoyed this enormously. I think most grown-ups will find more than enough diversion in this well-made entertainment. It's a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon or better yet,a drive-in night over the school holiday this summer.

The ending suggests Jack will be back for further adventures. I've no doubt the young ladies and I will return to the theatre for more pirate fun.