- Running time:
- 136 minutes
- Johnny Depp -
- Capt. Jack Sparrow
- Penélope Cruz -
- Ian McShane -
- Geoffrey Rush -
- Astrid Bergès-Frisbey -
When flamboyant pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) crosses paths with ex-lover Angelica (Penélope Cruz), a devious seductress, she forces Sparrow onto her ship Queen Anne’s Revenge and into the middle of a quest to locate the legendary Fountain of Youth. The adventure also involves notorious pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane)—who may or may not be Angelica’s father—and Sparrow’s longtime rival Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).
The buzz: Yes, the first three “Pirates” films were dubbed a trilogy, but no, Disney couldn’t possibly retire Depp’s Sparrow after $2.6 billion in worldwide box office. So Jack’s back in an all new adventure without Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner or Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann. The inspiration bizarrely comes from Tim Powers’ 1987 historical fantasy novel “On Stranger Tides,” while franchise newcomer Rob Marshall—the Oscar-nominated director of “Chicago” making his blockbuster action debut after the musical flop “Nine”—takes over from previous director Gore Verbinski.
The verdict: After two sequels heavily criticized for convoluted storylines and tedious running times, there’s a conscious attempt at creating a more streamlined and buoyant adventure here. But the “Pirates” franchise had become so bloated—the last film was budgeted at $300 million and ran 169 minutes—that excess is simply part of the experience. So, apparently, is a resounding lack of creativity. Why someone thought it was necessary to turn to an unrelated novel to find something to do with Jack Sparrow remains a mystery, but the narrative crutch doesn’t generate any sense of freshness. Sadly, neither does the promising presence of Cruz as a feisty female pirate. She’s playing an attitude, not a character, and despite the obvious intention to pit Sparrow against his feminine equivalent, Cruz never gets the material to make that a remote possibility. McShane has even less to do as Blackbeard, while returning champs Depp and Rush hit all the familiar notes of their characters pleasantly but unspectacularly. Replacing the director hardly seems to have made a difference, “Stranger Tides” is the shortest “Pirates” yet—136 minutes—but it’s still a busy mess (with an obnoxiously bombastic score by Hans Zimmer featuring Rodrigo y Gabriela). So much happens, and so little of it means a thing. Aside from swordfights in 3D and some memorably nasty flesh-hungry mermaids, there’s nothing on screen that’s any stranger than what audiences have already seen three times before. Responding to what viewers like is fine, but trying to cash in with a repeat…not so much. And that’s the cynical pitch of “Pirates” part four: if you’ve ever thought movies need more TV-style reruns, you’ll love “Stranger Tides.”
Did you know? 24-year-old Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey makes her English language debut as mermaid Syrena, but the Spanish-French actress couldn’t enjoy the film’s Hawaii locations too much. She was required to stay out of the sun to maintain a mermaid’s fair skin.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is also playing in select IMAX theaters. Find local showtimes here.
Movie theaters and showtimes for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 3D in Nashville.
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