[Click below to hear the audio version of this review which aired on WAMD 970 AM.][audio:http://www.daggerpress.com/wp-content/uploads/051911_DAGGER-MOVIE-REVIEW-1.mp3|titles=051911_DAGGER MOVIE REVIEW (1)]
Everyone’s favorite pirate reprises his role for the fourth installment of the series. This outing marks a return to the pulpy action of the first movie that launched the franchise. While not the best of the four films, it certainly is not the worst.
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz), and he’s not sure if it’s love—or if she’s a ruthless con artist who’s using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn’t know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past. Written by Walt Disney Pictures
After the departure of both Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom following the third Pirates movie, the franchise seemed to be in limbo. Now that it appears this will be the last Pirates film for Depp, the proverbial anchor may have been dropped on the series. After suffering through the second and third movies, the cast seems understandably ready to move on. Luckily, “On Stranger Tides” rides a new wave away from the wreck of the last two films.
The highlight, as always, is Depp doing his Keith Richards meets Pepe Le Pew impersonation. It excels by being both parts equally distracting and gratifying in comparison to the script. Speaking of Richards, his cameo in this film is highly disappointing. While his appearance in “At World’s End” was the stuff of legends, this appearance was the stuff of dinner theater. Cruz makes a strong enough impression to prevent getting steamrolled by Depp’s performance, but unfortunately continues to fall back on the “feisty Latina” stereotype. Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane quickly fade to the background with underwhelming performances, but provide just enough to move the plot along.
While the turn away from the script-heavy second and third films is refreshing, “On Stranger Tides” feels strangely familiar. Almost the entire film could have been spliced together from its predecessors – in some cases literally stealing action sequences from the first film. There is no “wow” factor, no strong hook. It doesn’t make the movie bad, per se, just very bland. Without Depp there won’t be enough to support even a mediocre film.
Mediocre is also a good description of the 3-D version of the film, which defines how to do everything wrong with 3-D. Most of the film has no 3-D effects, leaving you wearing stupid glasses for no reason. The 3-D that is used is what killed 3-D films back in the 80’s and 90’s. They use the “scary” skeleton hand coming out of the screen trick at one point. That wasn’t scary when I was six and rode The Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World.
Unless you are a die hard fan of the franchise, there is nothing that you didn’t see in the first film. Other than the 3-D there is nothing exceptionally bad, but nothing exceptionally good. Not a good movie, not a bad movie, just a lot of Johnny Depp.
“See It/ Rent It/ Skip It”: Rent it. Trust me, you won’t even mind missing the previews that come with this one. Hugh Jackman, what happened?
TWO STARS out of four.
Directed by Rob Marshall. Written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio.
Runtime: Two hours and eight minutes