Far more predictable than anything in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was the critical pile-on that greeted its release. Considering that the reviews have gotten progressively worse since the first film in the series, did anyone really think that the fourth entry was going to be met with rapturous applause? And yet I find it impossible to join in the apparent fun of the bash-fest. On Stranger Tides does pretty much what it sets out to do: play up and on those things that have worked in the previous films. It’s a lot like one of the later Bing Crosby-Bob Hope “Road” Pictures. It’s not up to the best, but it has enough of what you want — assuming, of course, that you like the other movies and the character of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) — to make for agreeable entertainment. Getting rid of the Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley characters was definitely a good idea, as was bringing in Penelope Cruz’s Angelica, who may or may not be the daughter of Blackbeard the Pirate (Ian McShane), as semi-love interest and adversary for Jack Sparrow. Cruz and Depp are much more evenly matched and don’t really need the support of a pair of “juvenile leads.” The story is no great shakes. It’s all about a search for the Fountain of Youth with the Spanish after it, King George II (a nice role for Richard Griffiths) after it through the dubious proxy of Capt. Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush), and Blackbeard and Angelica after it with the not exactly willing participation of Jack. This does, however, provide ample opportunity for some witty repartee and nicely executed physical comedy. Granted, Keith Richards (in an even briefer appearance) as Jack’s father has the single best line in the film and it comes early on, which poses the problem that nothing ever quite tops it (Cruz comes close on occasion, especially in her response to Jack accusing her of running “like a girl”). But in general, it works. The real question, of course, is do you want more of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow? If you do, I can’t imagine why this won’t please you. If you don’t, why on earth are you even considering this?
Official Site: Disney.com/Pirates
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer: Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Cast: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Kevin R. McNally, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Sam Claflin and Geoffrey Rush
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