PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (Dir. Rob Marshall, 2011)
Never believe the hype.
The word was that this was supposed to be the movie that got the franchise back on track. Even Johnny Depp was on record about how bloated and convoluted the last couple of PIRATES movies were, so the fourth film was set to right those wrongs.
Not so much. This installment is just as messy and murky as the last 2.
In fact, looking back - I felt exactly the same way I did after seeing the 3rd one (AT WORLD'S END). In my review of that I wrote:
"All the lame jokes, un-affecting fight scenes, and pointless attempts at romaticizing map-mythology with supposed sacred artifacts holding eternal power just left me bombastically bored.
I did however like the Keith Richards cameo (as Jack Sparrow's father no less). I heard there was a bonus scene like the other PIRATES had after the credits but at the 2 hour 45 mark I was dying to get the hell out of the theater - bet you will be too."
Except for the remark about the running time (at just over 2 hours this is shorter) I have the same reaction. This time I did stay to see the bonus scene though.
A lot of the cast from the series doesn't return - there's no Keira Knightly, Orlando Bloom, or Bill Nighy so the film offers a lot of Depp sparring off with Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane as Blackbeard, a real missed oportunity as a character.
ON STRANGER TIDES is a noisy film full of groaners (Keith Richards has the funniest line, but I won't spoil it here), poorly plotted set-pieces, and Johnny Depp just swishing through the motions. It also doesn't take any pleasurable advantage of having zombies in it!
The last half takes the plot mechanics of INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE substituting the Holy Grail with the Fountain of Youth and re-writes them over and over again to no great effect.
Penélope Cruz and Depp have some mad chemistry but when she's reduced to a screaming b**** and Depp is just an ambitious cad they join the entire cast of people it's impossible to care about.
The 3D did nothing for me either.
I have to say though the audience around me seemed to love it all (there was even applause at the end), and my wife enjoyed it saying that she loved "the costumes, the detail on the sets and the ships," "how dark it was" and that "Johnny Depp appeals to all ages."
Judging from that this movie looks pretty critic-proof. It's an event movie that people will feel obligated to see so I'm sure it'll be a big hit. To me though it was another failed fourth and a big waste of time.