NOTE: I purchased my own ticket to this movie and was in no way compensated for this review.
We live in a teensy town with one movie theater that gets on movie every week, or sometimes two or three weeks, it plays nightly at 7 p.m. This week, for the first time since we moved here four years ago, the theater played a Saturday matinee. My husband, my two teenagers and I went, at least in part to support the matinee effort.
We saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. This movie is rated PG-13 and follows three previous films in the same franchise that we'd already seen. As with the other three, I loved the lushness of the movie as well as the occasional reminders that this movie is based on a Disney ride. I loved when the line "ya' bloomin' cockroaches" showed up in this one, for instance.
Sword fights are a huge part of the action in this film, as they are in the three previous films in the franchise. The fights are intense, however I appreciate that Captain Jack always tries to stop them. He participates, but he never seeks it out. I also appreciate that there are no gratuitously gory scenes. People die, but we aren't shown their guts.
There is some sexual innuendo in the movie. At one point, for instance, Captain Jack is holding on to a big wooden brothel sign at eye level with billboard-sized cleavage. In the brothel, there are prostitutes. There is sexual tension, of sorts, between the lead characters. None of it is overt, and it may actually go over the heads of younger teens, at least partly. There is no sex in the movie at all. There are a couple of kisses.
There is a budding side romance in the film between a missionary and a captured mermaid that provides the movie's most intense sexual moments. When she turns into a girl and loses her tail, the mermaid is naked. The missionary strips off his shirt, leaving him muscularly bare chested for a while, and wraps her up in it. All of the mermaids are bare backed, but their breasts are covered by their hair.
There is a lot of drinking going on in the film. It's offered up with an attitude that this is just what pirates do. They keep booze in their wooden legs, or stop in the middle of running for their lives to drink some wine. The drinking is irreverent. As in the previous films, Captain Jack staggers and slurs his way through this one as though he were perpetually drunk. His mannerisms are clearly designed to be both an imitation of intoxication and funny.
There are some parts of the movie that might be too much for some kids on the younger end of the adolescent spectrum. There is one particularly violent scene where mermaids grow vampire-like teeth and start attacking. The sword fights, as I've already said, are plentiful and intense as well.
From a feminist point of view, I appreciated that the female lead was relatively strong. She held her own. She stayed clothed and never got all mushy about Captain Jack, whom she'd had a previous relationship with, or any other man. I also kind of dug that the mermaids had bite. They were violent things, and much was made of their conventional beauty, but they were definitely strong. While the vast majority of the women in the movie perfectly fit the beauty myth, the prostitutes were heavier and plainer.
My final review is that this movie is not as good as the previous three. I missed Elizabeth Swann and spent a lot of the movie a little afraid that Jack was going to hook up with the female lead in this movie and break my heart. But, it was a decent way to spend a Saturday afternoon. My 17 and 18 year old kids came with me and I was perfectly comfortable with them seeing this film. It might be a little much for younger teens and tweens, especially if they are sensitive to violence. I'd say the PG-13 rating is a good guide.
These ratings indicate my personal views on how the movie approached a few sensitive subjects. I'm rating this movie from a parent's point of view for teenage audiences (ages 13 and older.)
Portrayal of Women: B-
Drug and alcohol use: D
Entertainment value: B
Overall: This was an entertaining movie with a lot of choreographed violence and a cavalier attitude toward drinking.
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