By Mark HadleyMonday 23 May 2011
Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides
RELEASE DATE: May 19
Disney returns with the fourth installment in this blockbuster franchise and what is likely to be a much discussed film and coveted DVD release for the remainder of 2011.
Johnny Depp makes his fourth appearance as Captain Jack Sparrow, this time in search of the fabled Fountain of Youth. Jack has all of his peculiarities in place, including his determination that ‘captain’ be assigned to his name even by his executioners, and fans can look forward to a whole new range of improbable but exciting escapes. Also aboard are a range of new characters to replace old favourites now married and ashore. Sparrow crosses paths with Angelica (Penelope Cruz), a woman from his past who forces him on board the dreaded ship of Blackbeard the Pirate (Ian McShane). The all-star cast also includes Judi Dench, Gemma Ward and Geoffrey Rush. But quite possibly the strangest inclusion is Sam Claflin as Philip, a Christian cleric kidnapped by Blackbeard. This is no reflection on his acting, just the clerical collar he sports.
On Stranger Tides is literally swamped with Christian reflections on the nature of eternal life, who will gain it and what they will have to undertake to do so. Bible-carrying Philip leaves no doubt that only those who ask for forgiveness can hope to possess eternal life and reassures the crew – even the murderous Blackbeard – that, “Every soul can be saved.” He also presents a strikingly redeemed that is obvious even to Jack’s enchanted enemies. Sadly, if a little predictably, by the end of the film he’s transferred his faith in God to faith in his love for a mermaid. Likewise Captain Jack has come to the conclusion that eternal life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – he’d prefer the surprise of not really knowing what’s going to happen next. That, apparently, is the only real way to know you’re alive.
On Stranger Tides is as much fun as any previous installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean and though its philosophy is as meandering as Captain Jack’s steps, it may turn out to be a helpful thing that it’s sailed into the territory that may leave audiences wondering about the source of eternal life.