Heeee’s back! Once again Johnny Depp, complete with his trade mark heavy black eye makeup reprises his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides”. This time, in Version Four, he minces through two hours and seven minutes of a vapid exercise in alleged moviemaking. I will admit that the film was so exciting it nearly, but not quite, awakened me in the last ten minutes. The plot is virtually non-existent; the direction (Rob Marshall) is tedious; the actors, with a few exceptions, appear to be going through the motions.
Sparrow has lost his beloved ship, the Black Pearl, and through a series of small adventures in London (perhaps the best part of the movie) he embarks on a quest for the Fountain of Youth. Back to the Caribbean for him. His competition is the notorious Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and, to some extent, his old nemesis Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Throw in Penelope Cruz as Angelica; is she or isn’t she Blackbeard’s daughter? There’s no electricity between Cruz and Depp, and her presence simply adds a little glamour to the background. At one point there’s a chance of a tango scene with Depp and Cruz, but even that did not materialize. The addition of a handsome young missionary and a bevy of well photographed mermaids, including one in particular seem to be an attempt to liven up the plot. Instead you have a neatly photographed, but very boring Disney package.
There are a few redeeming features: Richard Griffiths executes a farcical turn as King George III, and there’s a fleeting glimpse of Judi Dench as a society lady in a London carriage as Sparrow makes one of his numerous escapes. The mermaid Syrena is attractive as a good mermaid – contrasted to the evil pod of mermaids inhabiting a Caribbean cove. Woe unto any sailors who enter that cove – except Sparrow, of course.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer usually cranks out good action stuff on television. This time something deserted him.