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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

[Rating: 1/5]

By Willie Krischke — May 22, 2011

Here’s a sequence from the new Pirates of the Caribbean flick:

Penelope Cruz is Angelica, and Ian McShane is Blackbeard her father.  Johnny Depp is, of course, Jack Sparrow (there should be a captain in there somewhere.) They are searching for the Fountain of Youth.  Depp leads the way, but they come to a giant, uncrossable chasm.  For some unexplained reason, someone must jump into the chasm.  Cruz volunteers, but McShane says no – Depp must do it.  Depp balks, and McShane says, “jump, or I’ll shoot…her.”   Depp says “You wouldn’t shoot your own daughter, would you?”

So far so good (except for the whole unexplained chasm thing.)  But then McShane, instead of shooting or backing down, calls for his henchmen to bring him six guns, two of them loaded.  Depp must choose two guns that McShane will fire at Cruz, ostensibly so that her blood is on his hands, and not on her father’s.  The first gun is empty.  The second one isn’t.  Meanwhile, Cruz, who up to this point has been resourceful and determined and on nobody’s side but her own, just stands there and lets these men fire multiple weapons at her.  Eventually, she just rushes the chasm herself, probably because she’s dying to get this horribly long and convoluted scene over with already.

And that’s the way the whole movie plays.  Nothing is simple and direct in “On Stranger Tides;”  everything is just as complicated as it possibly can be.  As I mentioned, Depp and co. are searching for the mythical Fountain of Youth.   But along the way, they must also find  the two silver chalices of Ponce de Leon, and a mermaid’s tear.  But the mermaids are vampirey things who sling webs like Spider-man.  Except for one, who falls in love with the missionary that Blackbeard has tied to the mast of his ship.  Which he can control by waving his magical sword, which means he really doesn’t need a crew.  But he has one anyway, made up of zombies.  He also has Sparrow’s ship, the Black Pearl, shrunk down and fitted into a bottle.  Which he took from Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) who is after him, to exact his revenge.  Which has been prophesied, which is why Blackbeard is seeking the Fountain of Youth. Also, the Spanish are after the Fountain.  And the English, led by Barbosa, who manages to get everywhere just before Depp, and then wait there for him.  Yeesh.  “Stranger Tides” plays like the screenwriters threw everything they could think of at the screen, and if it didn’t stick, they nailed it there anyway.

Even Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow schtick gets old in “On Stranger Tides,” but it’s not really his fault.  It worked in the first movie as a counterpoint to the wooden acting of Orlando Bloom, the earnest swashbuckling of Keira Knightley, and perhaps most of all, the complacent, contemptuous evil of Jack Davenport and the stodgy British Navy.  The second and third movies followed Sparrow into stranger and stranger worlds, with diminishing returns, but by this film, there’s nothing left to counterpoint against.  Everyone’s as crazy and crooked as Sparrow here,  and his one-liners come off flat as a result.  Depp is still overacting his heart out, but so is everyone else.

Also, if someone could answer me this I’d be grateful: if someone’s death has been prophesied, and he’s in the process of dying that death, but also someone else is dying, except that person’s death hasn’t been prophesied, so that person (through a sacred ritual) attempts to give the rest of her life to the first dying man, except the ritual gets switched, and he gives the rest of his life to her by mistake, then really, she didn’t get anything, because he was about to die anyway, right?

If you can answer that question — heck, if you can understand that question — you might enjoy this movie, in spite of it all.

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