The fourth PIRATES film is the first big disappointment of the summer

It seemed like the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was over with the conclusion of the overstuffed and bloated third entry, At World’s End. However, Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow along with some new and old faces for the fourth entry in the franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Jack (Depp) finds himself on trial for piracy after when he learns someone has been impersonating him to put a crew together in search of the Fountain of Youth. The imposter turns out to be Angelica (Penelope Cruz), a love interest that Jack had feelings for a long time ago and the daughter of the notorious pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Jack, Angelica and Blackbeard soon embark on a quest to find the Fountain, while Jack’s nemesis Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is sent by the King of England to get to the Fountain before the Spaniards.

This movie does get points in telling a comprehensible plot unlike the last two installments; however, the problem is that the “search for the Fountain of Youth” plot is a boring plot for a film of this caliber. The film lacks the fantastical elements that have supported the Pirates franchise as it seems that screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rosario just ran out of original ideas for On Stanger Tides.

Aside from the whole Fountain of Youth plot, we have an unwelcoming and forced romance subplot that involves a minister (Sam Claflin) and a mermaid (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), which could easily be a substitute for the “missing” Orlando Bloom/Keira Knightley element and another subplot that involves some Spaniards who are also looking for the Fountain too.

The only true stand-out moment in this bore-of-a-movie is the mermaid sequence. This scene manages to capture the beauty of these stunning sea creatures, while at the same time showcase the mermaid’s vicious brutality that their prey would endure if they fall into the water. 

Being this is the fourth time that Depp is playing Sparrow, it really shows in his performance that he is not bringing anything new to the table. I could be wrong for all I know because maybe next year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association could nominate Depp for Best Actor again for On Stanger Tides. Who knows? The supposed romantic tension between Depp and Cruz is nowhere to be seen as it feels forced and unconvincing. The only two actors that really try to bring anything to their performance are McShane as Blackbeard and Rush as Barbossa.

Like Depp, Rob Marshall (Chicago), who is replacing Gore Verbinski in the director’s chair, brings nothing new to the table. Even though he tries do the best he can with the material given to him, Marshall’s direction for the action sequences seems over-choreographed and over-the-top including one sequence where Jack escapes by climbing a tree, swinging himself from one tree to another and dropping coconuts on people.

As the fourth entry in the franchise, On Stranger Tides is boring especially with the running time being as short in the franchise at 136 minutes. There could have been some fat-trimming done to make this film even shorter like leaving the priest/mermaid and Spaniard subplots on the cutting room floor.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stanger Tides is not only the franchise’s most disappointing entry, but the first disappointment of the summer. This film should be evidence enough that this tired and fledgling franchise should be put to rest.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stanger Tides opens in theaters nationwide tomorrow.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stanger Tides: 2 stars out of 5

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