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Movie Review: Pirates Of The Caribbean – On Stranger Tides

Posted on: May 27, 2011

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There’s something appealing about Jack Sparrow’s puffy-shirted swagger.  There’s a likeability that makes you want to buy a ticket and watch his latest exploits.  This still holds true for some.  The character lost its luster for me about midway into the second installment of this four-movie franchise.

Johnny Depp does a merely adequate job when measured against an inventory of stellar performances over the span of his career.  In POTC4, he is given new characters against whom to cavort and spin witticisms. Penelope Cruz is the main object of his attention.  She’s Blackbeard’s daughter; or is she?  Her character is as slight as her cinematic appeal in this movie.

Blackbeard and Barbossa are lifeless (pun intended) and uninteresting.  Only Gibbs (Kevin McNally) has any appeal, and he is grossly underused.  The usual menagerie of peripheral miscreants is unremarkable.  The action sequences are as muddled as those of POTC2, though they are mercifully fewer in number.

POTC4‘s one strength is wasted.  An oceanful of mermaids builds the only plot point of interest, then quickly turns it into a counter-intuitive nightmare.  You’ll never think of mermaids in quite the same way again.  One of these creatures is captured, of course, and we’re supposed to feel sympathy for her.  But the portrayal is as wan as the pallor of her oxygen-deprived face.

The production budget is reported to be about $250M.  The opening week’s take approached $100M.  With numbers like these, you’d expect a really good show.  But there’s nothing new here.  The Pirates franchise has become old,  tired, yesterday.    I give POTC4 one screaming monkey (out of four).  You have far more glittery trinkets on which to waste your booty.

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