Avast! There Be Pirates!

            I love pirates! Of course, I’m not speaking of the murderous thugs attacking ships off the coast of Somalia. I love the pirates of legend and lore, and yes, I love the Pirates of the Caribbean.

            Pirates are a favorite subject of mine. A few years ago, I researched and wrote a story about the gentleman pirate, Jean Lafitte, a real Caribbean pirate who just so happened to help save the United States from a 19th century British invasion. It’s true.

            I’m well aware that most pirates were, in reality, vicious marauders who killed and stole from military and civilians alike. A few received commissions from governments to carry out unspeakable plans. A few remained loyal to their home countries and defended their ports against enemies.

            What I enjoy about the POTC movies is that the franchise taps into all the legends of the seas, including myths, treasures, and the pirates themselves. Cursed gold, Davy Jones and his locker, the Kraken, and even Calypso, the sea witch, become real and believable. Every crewmember is a caricature and stereotype, but the actors pour themselves into the roles so completely, that the audience embraces them as friends.

            Johnny Depp embodies the rum-soaked Captain Jack Sparrow and turns him into a rock star pirate complete with black eyeliner, bling and buxom groupies. His bad-boy appearance is countered with an honest morality that gets him into as much trouble as his lies.

            Geoffrey Rush’s Hector Barbossa is cruel and funny and duels perfectly with Captain Jack. The other cast members round out each installment’s plot nicely.

            POTC: On Stranger Tides premiers this week with Depp and Rush returning to their notorious roles. This time they face the infamous Blackbeard, played by Ian McShane. The treasure they seek in this film is the fabled Fountain of Youth, historically sought by Ponce de Leon among others.

            I’m thrilled that McShane joins the Pirates family. He’s a wonderful villain—devilish and attractive. He’s one I love to hate and hate to love! Penelope Cruz plays Angelica, Blackbeard’s daughter. I expect a tad of tension and innuendo mixed into the banter between Captain Jack and Angelica—it’s just a guess.

            On Stranger Tides promises mermaids and zombies bringing some fantasy to the expected mix of royals and rivals. My boys love zombies, me—not so much. However, I will make allowances for this movie, because the Caribbean is the place of origin for zombie stories.

            Returning with Depp and Rush are Kevin McNally, as the often-sloshed Gibbs, and Keith Richards as Captain Teague, the man who inspires both Depp and Sparrow. A few others from the previous pirate crew return. New to the feature are Richard Griffiths and Judi Dench, both beloved for their outstanding acting talents.

            I know of some pirate fans that are less than excited about this installment, because of the absence of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan. (Did anybody else notice that the three lead characters all had bird surnames?) I’m okay with that, because their story line ended. Let them live happily ever after.

            I’m anxious to see what those nutty privateers ARRRH going to do in this one! I know; I apologize.       

            I hope the 3D aspect doesn’t take away from the story. I know I’ll enjoy everything else about it, because I love a good swashbuckler! Hans Zimmer’s sweeping score adds whimsy and dignity simultaneously, folding the audience into the whole experience. The ships and costumes, the locations and cinematography all engulf my in the tale. For me, this movie kicks off a summer of fun!

            That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema! Thanks for reading!

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