Better than the last, but still not as good as the first, Disney's fourth Pirates film features a somewhat more courageous Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and an otherwise largely new cast of characters, Penelope Cruz among them. The adventure is the search for the mythical Fountain of Youth, and along the way there is a steady flow of foot chases, swordfights, outright laughs and several jokes that are only intended for the grown-ups in the audience. Legendary Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon makes a memorable appearance, or at least his skeleton does. And there are lots and lots of attractive mermaids, too--but looks can be deceiving!
We don't want to give too much away, but we need to say: it was unfortunate that a potentially God-honoring message was not allowed to run its course near the end of the film. A key truth about salvation is proclaimed by both a missionary and, later, by a Spanish military commander, but the plot turns on the waters of the fabled Fountain rather than on the "living water" of Christ.
For the first time in a long time, there was not a single empty seat in the theater at showtime, so that made it especially fun. Throw in the pirate flag flying above Cinderella castle on Disney's vanity card, a large bag of popcorn, and Mr. Depp actually using the line "a pirate's life for me", and you've got a fun night at the movies.
Brooke: B Grant: B