‘Pirates’ fail to deliver their plunder

Reed Belmonte

After the crown jewel that was “Curse of the Black Pearl,” the most props you could give “Dead Man’s Chest” and “World’s End” was that they were at least entertaining. “On Stranger Tides” is not only the shortest, but the least engaging one yet, making it not a lone epic, but simply an episode of “The Jack Sparrow Show.”

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” brought in $90 million on its opening, but it failed to deliver the same thrills of the first one.

Sparrow (Depp) seeks a ship and crew in England, bent on finding the Fountain of Youth. Here, he runs into Barbossa (Rush) who has now switched sides and resides as a privateer puppet for the king of England, since the Black Pearl just … sank.

Kiera Knightly and Orlando Bloom were excluded from this chapter as Depp’s partners in crime, no surprise seeing that Bloom didn’t have much of a plot line left.

Instead, Depp seeks the fountain with Penelope Cruz as Angelica, the seductive daughter of the famous Blackbeard, played by Ian McShane, evil and demented as ever.

This threesome tries to deliver the same circle of lies, maybe’s and deceptive what-if’s just as the first three films, but comes to a point where you just don’t care, and they could all die or all succeed in their minute sub plots and you just don’t give a crap.

Speaking of crap, mermaids are neither threatening, nor entertaining, not even in 3-D. One of the mermaids, Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey, fire your agent) is nice enough to add a fiery love interest in a god-loving crewman of Blackbeard’s. It absolutely has no relevance whatsoever to the plot, making you want to hate whoever wrote this (Ted Elliot, screenwriter for the first three movies).

Like the television series “Lost,” it just seems like the “Pirates” franchise is running out of good ideas, and producing a sloppy, sloppy film.

Most of the threats or problems that came up along the way weren’t all that grand in comparison to the previous films. Where are the skeletons with swords, giant octopi, and grand scale battles? I was just expecting more than a prison escape, mermaids, and then a swordfight, all with the same musical score. Yawn.

I personally think it’s a shame that a majority of Johnny Depp’s portfolio of the past decade has been the same pirate, seeing that he has such a wide range as such a gifted character actor. It’s time for him throw in the towel on Captain Jack and go back to testing his skills on real character studies, instead of flops like this and “The Tourist,” one of the worst films I saw last year.

Nevertheless, producing a fourth film out of thin air after a firm trilogy is no easy task, which calls for a few changes to be made. Rob Marshall took the captains wheel as director replacing his predecessor of the first three, Gore Verbinski.

This is the only aspect that keeps this film away from zero stars. You have to give Marshall credit for stepping out of his element from musical theatrics to summer action fantasies. No stranger to the big spectacle, Marshall brings fantastic proscenium appearance to every scene, identifying the story to every sentence and plunders … or lack of venturous plunder.

I’m no fool to the way Hollywood works. This film wasn’t made for it’s bold artistic vision and gripping plot. The fourth installment the “Pirates” franchise made $90 million its opening night because tweens and easily entertained audiences wanted to see Johnny Depp slip on some eye-liner and give the swashbuckling song and dance we’ve all seen before.

Disney’s theme park ride turned blockbuster should have quit after the travesty that was “At Worlds End,” but it seems that they have found a way to go lower.