PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES
BY DAVID VICARI
Here's a cold, hard fact:
The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are long, bloated and dull. I don't get it.
These movies should be rollicking fun in the Saturday matinee tradition of the Indiana Jones films. Instead, they are lumbering snooze fests. Even Johnny Depp's seemingly effeminate, drunken Captain Jack Sparrow is a tired act at this point. There is a different director at the helm, Chicago's Rob Marshall, but it's still the same hack screenwriters of the previous Pirates pictures, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who, this time, have hijacked a novel, On Stranger Tides, by Tim Powers. For this fourth installment Sparrow is seeking the Fountain of Youth, but he's not alone. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is looking for it too, as is Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his foxy daughter, Angelica (Penélope Cruz). For about the entire first hour we get chases, sword fights and exposition—none of which is exciting or interesting.
The film gets a slight pulse when the quest finally gets underway during it's second half, and there is an intense mermaid attack sequence, but that's about it. A potentially intriguing subplot about a priest (Sam Claflin) becoming smitten with a mermaid (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) is handled like it's an afterthought (It's never really explained why the one mermaid is good and the rest are nightmarish monsters). Besides, why would you want to see an unconventional romance like that when you have Jack and Angelica bickering with one another throughout the entire movie? No pirate's life for me, thanks.