Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides

Review: The new 'Pirates' film is a crass, meaningless bore

Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides

Johnny & Geoffrey wonder what they were thinking. Photo by Peter Mountain © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Director: Rob Marshall
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Penélope Cruz
Time Out rating:

Far be it for us to accuse the Walt Disney company of making a fourth Pirates movie strictly for the money. But the experience of sitting through this latest flogged cash cow in the already overexposed comedy adventure series feels more like tracking stock figures than watching a piece of family entertainment. Every frame feels laboured, every gag tired, every action set piece familiar, every performance phoned in.

Johnny Depp is back in the headscarf and eyeliner as Captain Jack Sparrow, whose search for the Fountain of Youth has foundered for no specific reason. Finding himself in London for no specific reason, he soon falls in with ex-lover Angelica (Penélope Cruz), who is masquerading as Sparrow for no specific reason. Together they set off for the fountain, pursued by Geoffrey Rush’s peg-legged Barbossa, who has joined the British navy for no specific reason.

On Stranger Tides is a film which seems so loaded with contempt for its audience that it expects us not to notice or care that the characters have no clear motivation, that entire scenes have no reason for existing and that for much of the film we don’t even know what continent we’re on. It’s a film where our heroes can escape a trap by simply pulling a lever and dropping through the floor, where a character can dive into a hole in the ground and pop up in an entirely different part of the story. A film, in other words, without tension, momentum or resonance.

For some, this may be a step up from the wilful psychedelic idiocy of At World’s End, the previous film in the series. But at least that had imagination: On Stranger Tides is simply lifeless, a reductive, insulting moneymaking exercise with as much charm and depth as a slot machine.

On Stranger Tides opens in Japan on May 20

Watch the trailer

By Tom Huddleston
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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