So I'm guessing this has to be the final trailer for "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," right?  I mean, we're just around the corner from the film's release, and it seems like this is the one where they finally lay out as much of the story as they're going to before we actually see the film.

It seems to be fashionable to retroactively hate this film series at this point, or to roll your eyes at the return of Capt. Jack Sparrow, but I generally enjoyed all three of the films that Gore Verbinski made, and I like the source material they're using this time for the underlying structure of this latest chapter.  Tim Powers is a hell of a writer, and his book "On Stranger Tides" offers a lot of opportunities for Elliott and Rossio to build off of as screenwriters.

For me, the biggest question mark about the entire endeavor is Rob Marshall.  I'm not the biggest fan of his work as a director, and I think these films require a very particular type of energy if you're going to get them right.  I'm certainly willing to give him a chance, and I hope this is the film of his I like the most.

I like the idea that Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) has sold out to the crown and is now working as an official representative of the British Navy.  It creates a brand new tension between him and Sparrow that can be a lot of fun depending on how they play it.  And in this trailer, it seems that Blackbeard (an ideally cast Ian McShane) has taken possession of the Black Pearl, raising the stakes between him and Sparrow.  Throw in the fact that it seems Sparrow put it to Blackbeard's daughter (Penelope Cruz) at some point in the past, and there's all sorts of dynamics to keep things interesting.

What's interesting about the entire campaign so far is the way they're sort of glossing over the young romantic couple in the film.  You get a glimpse here of a sailor who seems upset about the treatment of a mermaid who seems to be the key to the Fountain of Youth for some reason, and it seems like they're actually a pretty significant part of the film.  It's just that neither one of them is a face you recognize, so they're buried in the marketing.  I've heard some people complaining about the lack of Kiera Knightley and Orlando Bloom this time around, but their story ended in the third film, and there wouldn't be any reason for them to be involved in any of this.  I honestly don't think they're going to be missed at all if the film works, and if it doesn't, it certainly won't be because they're not in it.

Disney clarified this somewhat today with one of the two new stills they released:

 

 

The caption is:  Young missionary Philip Swift (SAM CLAFLIN) and enigmatic mermaid Syrena (ASTRID BERGÉS-FRISBEY) are mysteriously drawn to each other despite the fact that they should be natural enemies. Ph: Peter Mountain © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Yep.  They're the "Pirates" movie equivalent of the young ingenue love story in a Marx Brothers movie, where it's the noise and the chaos around them that we're really interested in.  But certainly a time-honored part of the formula nonetheless, and a little interspecies longing is sure to keep things weird.

The other new still reunites some familiar faces:

 

 

With the following caption:  Captain Jack Sparrow (JOHNNY DEPP) and Joshamee Gibbs’ (KEVIN R. McNALLY) are unpleasantly surprised to find themselves at the gates of St. James Palace rather than freedom as they exit a paddy wagon. Ph: Peter Mountain © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Here's the trailer embedded below:

 

 



I just went to Disneyland with my family a few weeks ago for my younger son's third birthday, and the first ride we went on was Pirates Of The Caribbean.  It remains one of my very favorite things in the entire park, and when you see it through the eyes of kids, what works about it is the mix of scares and thrills and laughs, and that seems to be the fundamental mix that all of the movies aim for, too.  If they pull it off and keep the runtime under five hours, this could prove that the "Pirates" series is more than just a trilogy, and with Disney already telling crews in Hawaii to be ready to shoot part five and six back to back, my guess is that Johnny Depp's going to be playing this character until he's as old as Keith Richards looks.

"Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" opens May 20, 2011.