She’s a good foil for Johnny Depp, literally and figuratively – their opening swordfight is pretty entertaining, as well. After that, it’s more like verbal sparring, but we enjoy the perpetual dueling, anyway.
Our intrepid Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) finds himself stuck in London, without a crew or a ship. But he has a map, and the promise of a grand quest for any adventurer: the Fountain of Youth! Yes, the same one Ponce de Leon tried in vain to discover in all his tramping through the jungles of the New World.
After a couple of tongue-in-cheek chase scenes (Depp is a natural at self-parody), our Charlie Chaplin-esque Captain Jack finds himself imprisoned on somebody else’s pirate ship – that of the infamous, notorious Blackbeard (wondrously impersonated by Ian McShane), and his blackhearted daughter, Angelica (the still strikingly beautiful Penelope Cruz). His old nemesis, Barbossa (the inimitable Geoffrey Rush) is at first captured along with Sparrow (Blackbeard has a magic sword working for him), so they form an unlikely alliance to try to get to the legendary Fountain of Youth before Blackbeard, or the dastardly English, or the officious Spanish. Along the way, they have to overcome the heart-stoppingly lovely mermaids, who, after enticing you into the sea with them, will make your heart stop, all right – by dragging you to the bottom and sucking the blood out of you! Vampire mermaid sirens? Because the water from the fountain has to be mixed with a mermaid’s tear in order for the elixir to become potent, and mermaids are a particularly unemotional lot?
Well, naturally, it’s all in jest. Depp adds his playful energy to this grandiose pirate’s yarn that’s just plain fun to watch. It’s much more adventure than romance, though the romantic tension is obvious – it’s just that “real” pirates don’t really have time to settle down, anyway. They’re too busy enjoying being bad boys together. It’s the 18th-century equivalent of a motorcycle gang. And there is just enough wanderlust in the average civilized dude to thrill at the spectacle of full sail with a favorable trade wind and a sharp saber and the enticement of the open seas. As Captain Jack Sparrow says, “It’s a pirate’s life for me.”
Ronald P. Salfen is co-pastor of United Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas.