Movie Review: ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, May 20, 2011 at 11:24 am.

Summary: In the fourth incarnation of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns and is forced by fellow pirates, led by Angelica (Penelope Cruz), to search for the fountain of youth. The English and the Spaniards are also on the same voyage.  Who will reach the fountain of youth first and be young forever?

Review: To see the legendary and insanely talented Johnny Depp minimize his resume to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is bizarre.  I have to assume he signed on for what is clearly a film beneath him for the paycheck. In the next few years he will wow us again in edgy, indie flicks and I’ll be the first in line.

That said, On Stranger Tides, directed by Rob Marshall, sinks right to the bottom of the ocean with a brainless storyline, tiresome special effects – that look even worse in 3D – and every bit of life squeezed out of a franchise that once upon a time had solid writing and fun storytelling.

A slop of characters (no Keira Knightley, who smartly didn’t sign on), including Penelope Cruz, are all on the hunt for the fountain of the youth (no one could think of something a tiny more original?) and demand the help of Captain Jack Sparrow.  Sparrow scampers along, fighting on ships with evil pirates who have magical powers, battling killer mermaids (oh, that fountain needs a teardrop from a mermaid to make you Tina Turner-young) and endless jungles to eventually arrive at a drip of a fountain. The story plays along with hokey comedy, sloppy fighting scenes, tons of black eyeliner that would make a cast member of RuPaul’s Drag Race jealous and an ending that even an attention deficit pre-teen could predict.

Oscar winner Penelope Cruz plays opposite Depp.  She is one of two female characters who have more than a few lines.  Cruz is minimized to searching for her youth and daddy issues.

Depp knows his character is likable so he certainly isn’t trying too hard.  But one can’t say that he failed in the role, he is fun to watch and the eccentricity he added to Sparrow is enjoyable.  But he can’t save this film and I’m sure he knows it.

One could blame Rob Marshall’s direction in his first Pirates of the Caribbean experience.  On the other hand, the franchise has lost its zeal.  Overall, this ship has sailed, wrecked and sunk right into a Hollywood abyss of nonsense.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is in theaters today.

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