Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

THE SETUP: Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is back, minus Orland Bloom and Kiera Knightley, to find the Fountain of Youth. And it’s a pretty easy journey except for uneasy alliance with Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), vicious mermaids, a former flame (Penelope Cruz) with her own agenda and the supernatural Blackbeard (Ian McShane) who just doesn’t like anyone.

THE THOUGHTS: So we’ve already been through a trilogy of Captain Jack Sparrow’s adventures, which started promising but had really overstayed itself by the end. Did we need another? Sure. He’s a fun character that can still entertain. Depp really looks like he loves playing Jack, and it shows…so if the story lines are good enough…why not. This movie certainly dialed down the over-the-top set pieces and green screen (cough budget cough) and the story benefits from it. It’s more about the characters and the journey they take rather than, “look at the pirate ship sail over sand dunes” or “have you seen the zombie-skeleton monkey?” All the actors are fine in their roles but really they are there for the Sparrow Show. The only one to bring some real presence was Geoffrey Rush but he’s had a few Pirates movies of experience. Director Rob Marshall still shot a beautiful movie with some enjoyable action. It’s a summer move, not rocket science.

2 stars – it’s a renter.  Turn off your brain and enjoy it for what it is…a summer movie with an old friend. As long as he’s bringing his A-game and not dialling it in…I’ll set course for the next Jack Sparrow adventure. (I’m comfortable with cheesy)

Random Recommendations
Donnie Brasco (1997) – It’s true, Johnny Depp doesn’t just do fantasy/action movies as crazy charactures. He actually acts. And sometimes even well. It’s pretty close to being a Scorsese-level gangster flick. It’s great to watch Al Pacino and Depp play off each other in this true story of an undercover agent going a little too undercover.

Blow (2001) – This isn’t the first time Cruz and Depp acted together. Previously, they told the story of George Jung, the man who kick started the cocaine boom of the 70s in the U.S. Not a happy tale but a damn well told one.

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