By Don Simpson | May 19, 2011
Director: Rob Marshall
Writers: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert, Tim Powers
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally
You say you want a synopsis? I will give you a synopsis…a very synopsized one at that!
Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) swash-buckles his way into a London prison to rescue his first mate Gibbs (Kevin McNally) from a public hanging. Next thing Jack knows, he is in King George’s (Richard Griffiths) palace. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), now a “privateer” sailing for the British monarch, is also there. King George wants the pair to be the first to beat the Spaniards to Ponce de Leon’s legendary Fountain of Youth. Instead, Jack finds himself a minion on Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane) Queen Anne’s Revenge, which just so happens to have an old flame of Jack’s — Angelica (Penélope Cruz) — as its first mate. The Spaniards, Brits and Blackbeard are off to the races. The question is not: Who will make it to the Fountain of Youth first? The question is: Who will find the two silver chalices and collect a mermaid’s tear before the others?
Let’s see, what did I leave out? Blackbeard is rumored to be Angelica’s father; rumor also has it that Jack soiled Angelica while she was a Catholic nun; Keith Richards briefly reprises his role as Jack’s daddy; there is a clergyman (Sam Claflin) and a crew of zombified henchmen on Blackbeard’s ship; and, oh yeah, mermaids — including Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) — are ruthless and amphibious killers.
Directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine), On Stranger Tides severely lacks in the strongest elements of the first three installments: dialogue, fight choreography and strangeness (which is sort of ironic, considering the title of this segment). The oh-so-dreamy Orlando Bloom and the even dreamier Keira Knightley must have jumped ship somewhere between At World’s End and On Stranger Tides — I cannot claim to miss their characters, but I find it somewhat perplexing that their names are never even mentioned and their absence is never explained. Cruz comes on board to essentially fill both of their shoes; unfortunately she is also brought on as Jack’s love interest. Come to think of it, Jack does not need a freakin’ love interest — the whole romantic softy thing is completely out of character for him and serves no purpose other than to muck things up. Savvy?
On Stranger Tides is by far my least favorite of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which will need to find its own Fountain of Youth to rejuvenate itself after this clunker. The first step will be to find a director who is more adept in filming action fantasy flicks and the next step will be to hire better writers; then, as long as Depp (a favorite actor of mine) stays on board, Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer might be able to keep this sinking ship from getting bottled up forever.
Oops, did I mention that On Stranger Tides is in 3D? That is only because the effect is so underwhelmingly utilized.