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Film review: ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’

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Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz try to keep the franchise going with ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.’

The Details

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Two stars
Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane
Directed by Rob Marshall
Rated PG-13
Beyond the Weekly
Official Movie Site
IMDb: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Rotten Tomatoes: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

To note that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides manages to surpass the second and third installments of the Pirates series by being mostly comprehensible and having a running time under two and a half hours does not speak well for the franchise as a whole. And just because Tides has a storyline you can follow (adapted from Tim Powers’ unrelated 1987 novel On Stranger Tides) doesn’t mean that it’s particularly exciting or interesting. With Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley gone, Johnny Depp fully takes over the movie as loopy, inebriated pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, whose shtick had already worn thin by the second movie. Jack hooks up with his former flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz) on a quest to locate the fountain of youth, which puts him up against both his old nemesis Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and the legendary ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane).

It’s mostly an excuse for Jack to mutter various innuendos and malapropisms, which are mildly funny at best. The chemistry between Depp and Cruz is pretty weak, and the action sequences are mediocre—and don’t even include an epic sea battle. Instead there’s some swordfighting and a few explosions, but a lot of the action is murky and indistinct (which isn’t helped by the 3D). A romantic subplot featuring a missionary and a mermaid tries and fails to make up for the absence of Bloom and Knightley, but like most of Tides, it just serves as a reminder of how much fun the first Pirates movie was and how desperately the franchise has been working to recapture that feeling ever since.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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