Monday, May 23, 2011
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Release Date: 5-20-2011)
As was the case when we last saw him, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is on a quest to drink the water of the fountain of youth. While looking for shipmates, he runs into Angelica (Penélope Cruz), a feisty, foxy piratess with whom Jack shares some romantic history. The Two join forces, but soon find themselves aboard the ship of the infamous Blackbeard (Ian McShane), the one pirate who all pirates fear. But the Three are not alone in their quest: The Spanish already have a healthy head-start, and the ever-tricky Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush), now under the safety of the British Empire, is on the hunt as well.
It's funny that, after the Two previous Pirates sequels were bemoaned for their abundance of characters and subplots, screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio remain steadfast in their belief that more is more. I could explain, but let's exemplify. The process of gaining eternal life from Fountain of Youth goes like this: a) Two specific Silver Goblets must be found, b) a teardrop from a mermaid must be acquired, c) both goblets must be filled with water from the Fountain of Youth, d) the tear drop is placed in one goblet, which is to be consumed by the one gaining eternal life, while the other is drank by someone giving up their remaining years to the other goblet-drinker. Got that? Alright, now it's time to keep track of about Ten important characters, always spread around at no fewer than Three separate locations until the movie's conclusion. To the movie's credit, it's not too terribly hard to follow, but it's also undeniably over-stuffed, spending much of its sizable runtime (Two Hours and Sixteen Minutes) on characters and situations that garner little interest.
Then there's Depp, whose Jack Sparrow will never be anything less than fun to hang out with, but whose character is starting to feel a bit overly familiar. He's supported by a solid cast, Cruz gamely filling in for Kiera Knightly in the eye-candy spot, Sam Claflin occupying Orlando Bloom's romantic lead, albeit in a greatly (and mercifully) reduced role, and Rush doing more of the same. The injection of new director Rob Marshall (the Three previous films were all directed by Gore Verbinski) does next to nothing to shake things up, unless you count the glaring worsening of the action sequences. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is exactly what you thought it would be: Certainly no more, but also no less. It's passable entertainment, bolstered by Depp's charisma and relish for the role, and hindered by excessive sub-plots and considerable length. If I could describe it in one word, it would be, "eh," and... yeah... that's about it.