Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

There is hardly anything strange about this that is worth the admission price. Johnny Depp is reliably brilliant as Captain Jack Sparrow, but that’s to be expected. That’s not strange. I can’t personally say the same about the rest of the film. This is lazy, by-the-books film-making that we have come to expect during this time of the year. And I had close to no expectations when I sat in the auditorium with those stupid 3D glasses on my face, but I still left with a bitter taste when I left the cinema to cycle back home.

The downward spiral of what has forcibly become a franchise gets some extra momentum in this tepid, chaotic, and (worst crime of them all) boring instalment. It feels like half-baked set pieces are woven together by insipid dialogue, dark and crappy 3D cinematography, and a cast that is devoid of meat. Depp’s Sparrow and Judi Dench’s brilliant cameo aside, there is a serious lack of interesting personalities. Even Ian McShane cannot liven the things up in a potentially scene-stealing performance for the pirate Blackbeard. And if Ian McShane cannot hold my interest in a film, then this is certainly an abject failure.

The pseudo-plot revolves around the quest to find the Fountain of Youth on the Spanish mainland. The parties involved are the British and Spanish navy, plus Blackbeard’s crew of pirates and their ‘zombified’ handlers - what the hell does that even mean?.

I have always felt that the first instalment was pure genius - yes, it derived so much from Indiana Jones films before it, but it was a fresh take on the Summer blockbusters in that it had a fantastic central character for the ages, edge-of-your-seat set-pieces and a very well realized mythology. That formula was never going to hold up and the subsequent releases have become serious money-making extravaganzas with minimal artistic or entertainment value. But, compared to On Stranger Tides, they look far superior.

Do not waste your time or money on this. I hope the rest of the Summer offers better output.