I finally had the time to watch this movie last night.  We got the DVD from Netflix over a month ago, but with the holidays and birthdays going on it was hard to find a time where myself, my wife, and the twins could all sit down and watch it together.

On Stranger Tides, the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, is the first film without Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Kiera Knightly).  In this adventure, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) search for the legendary Fountain of Youth. The film also stars Ian McShane is Captain Blackbeard and Penelope Cruz as Angelica Teach.

There will be spoilers from here on out.  If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know…then don’t read.

The movie starts out with Sparrow in London, saving Gibbs, who is about to be hanged as Jack Sparrow.  Jack ends up being captured and brought before the king, because he has a map to the fountain of youth.   Jack escapes only to be captured by Angelica, who was posing as Jack to recruit a crew for her journey to the fountain so her father, Blackbeard, can drink from it.

The way the fountain works is somewhat complicated.  In order to use the fountain (in this movie anyway) you have to get two chalices made for Ponce De Leon and a tear from a mermaid.  You fill both chalices from the fountain, and then put the mermaid’s tear in one of the chalices.  Two people have to drink from the chalices.  The one who drinks from the chalice with the mermaid tear gets all the remaining years of life from the person who drinks from the other chalice.

So it ends up that Jack, Angelica, and Blackbeard end up in some cove where mermaids are known live.  Mermaids, in this movie, are drawn to light kind of like a moth is.  Mermaids are also, in this movie , belligerent creatures that attack without provocation and can sling seaweed from the hands a la Spiderman.  They also have fangs like vampires.  So there is a pretty intense battle to get a tear from one mermaid, whom they capture and take with them.  And miraculously, the mermaids bottom half transforms into legs when she’s taken out of water, but she can’t walk.

Blackbeard sends Sparrow to Ponce De Leon’s ship to find the chalices and he finds Barbosa there, where the duo discover that the Spanish, also looking for the fountain, have already been there and taken the chalices.  They then raid the Spanish camp and come away with the chalices.  Barbosa lets Sparrow take the chalices as Barbosa is there only to kill Blackbeard because Blackbeard stole the Black Pearl and somehow shrunk it down so it would fit in a small glass bottle.

All three groups end up getting to the fountain one after the other.  The English battle Blackbeard and lose, because half of Blackbeard’s crew is magical and can’t be killed.  The Spanish then arrive and outnumber them all by a wide margin and they end up destroying the fountain.  Barbosa is able to kill Blackbeard with a poison laced blade and because Blackbeard does not have the power of his ship to assist him.  He inadvertently cuts Angelica when she tries to save him.

Barbosa claims Blackbeard’s sword and crew.  Sparrow saves Angelica, who he won’t admit he loves, by tricking Blackbeard into drinking from the chalice without the mermaid tear.  He then strands Angelica on an island.  The mermaid that was captured saves an injuried cleric from Blackbeard’s crew after he asks.

That’s how it ends, leaving multiple questions.  Why, if Sparrow loves Angelica, did he leave her stranded on an island?  Also, how did the mermaid save the cleric?  She takes him down toward the bottom of the sea and that’s the last you see of them.  Was she able to save him?  Did they live happily ever after?

There is also another cliffhanger.  Gibbs escapes while on the island and is able to get the bottle with the Black Pearl trapped in it along with a bag of treasure.  I assume the goal is to get the ship out, but do they do it?  How do they get off the island?  The Spanish are gone and Barbosa and Blackbeard’s crew have already left.  The English’s ship was sunk by the mermaids.

Johnny Depp again performs brilliantly as Jack Sparrow, who is easily one of my favorite characters from any movie or movie franchise.  Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane also do a decent job in their roles.  Penelope Cruz was okay, but I really don’t care for her and that may or may not have affected my opinion.

The special effects are top-notch again and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.  I wasn’t crazy, however, about how mermaids were portrayed and the story just wasn’t as good as it was in the other movies.  It was still an enjoyable movie to watch, but I still believe The Curse of the Black Pearl was the best.