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A welcome return to the greatness of the first movie

Reviewed by Chantelle Moghadam, 16, Viewpoint School (Calabasas)

I have been a huge fan of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise since the first movie. While I was disappointed with the second and third movies because of their overly complicated plots, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed On Stranger Tides.

The fourth movie is more focused on the characters and many parts, including everything from the action sequences to Jack Sparrow’s lust for Penelope Cruz’s character, reminded me of the first movie in the series, The Curse of the Black Pearl.

On Stranger Tides begins in London, where Jack has lost hope of finding the Fountain of Youth. However, when he learns that the Spanish and British are racing each other to the fountain, his sense of adventure is renewed and he sets sail with the pirate Blackbeard’s crew and the thrilling race to the fountain ensues. Because the plot is based on a race, it stays focused and kept me anticipating what was going to happen next. I think this was a great change from the plots of Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, which went off on too many tangents. In this movie the characters were heading for a clear goal and I could focus more on them than what was happening in the plot.

While I missed some of the old characters, like Will and Elizabeth, I was also glad that they weren’t brought back for this movie because I think it would have made the plot too complicated. The only character I wish I had seen more of was Jack Sparrow’s father, played by Keith Richards. I expected more of Sparrow’s past to be revealed in this movie because there had been hints of his dark past in the other movies, but these secrets never seem to be revealed. While I think this would have been a nice addition to the story, I also don’t think the plot suffered because of it.

My favorite part was by far the ending because there is a direct tie to the first movie when someone (I won’t say who) ends up getting stranded on an island. I love this part because the wittiness of this ending reminds me of why I fell in love with Pirates of the Caribbean in the first place.

Long, boring and lacking in charm

Reviewed by Aaron Schwartz, 16, Gabrielino HS (San Gabriel)

The movie Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides was not nearly as good as the other Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

The movie starts with Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) going to London to help save his first mate from being executed. The escape attempt goes wrong and Jack is captured and brought before an English noble, where he learns that Captain Barbossa has become an English privateer and is starting a voyage to the fountain of youth against the Spanish, who also seek it. He escapes, only to meet Angelica (Penelope Cruz), an old lover of his, who tricks him into setting sail with her under her father, the murderous Blackbeard, who is also trying to find the fountain of youth. As they race to find a mermaid’s tear and two silver chalices that are needed to gain eternal life from the fountain of youth, Jack must survive confrontations with Blackbeard, Barossa and the Spanish. Along the voyage Jack learns that while the fountain can give you life, the gift comes with a price.

The movie got rid of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Kiara Nightley), which I thought was good because it put Jack in the center of the action. However, Jack was not nearly as entertaining in this movie. He wasn’t as funny and seemed much less energetic. Also, we didn’t get to see Jack fight with a sword nearly as much as in the other movies, which is also a letdown. The new character Angelica was OK, but nothing special. The new villain Blackbeard (Ian McShane) was a good villain, with the power to control a ship with the movements of his sword. However, he was nowhere as chilling a villain as Davy Jones was in Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End.

Then there were the mermaids. First they’re beautiful women attracted to sailors. Then we see them kill sailors by drowning them and eating them with teeth that look like something out of Twilight. After a group of mermaids tears Blackbeard’s crew to shreds, one of them is caught. Then, the captured mermaid falls in love with a person on Blackbeard’s ship. This seemed extremely farfetched to me.

Overall, I would say that On Stranger Tides is not a good movie. If you are a diehard fan of the Pirates of The Caribbean series, then you should watch it. Otherwise, don’t bother and save yourself from two hours and 25 minutes of boredom.