Movie Review - 'Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' by Bob Mondello The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean adventure drops Keira, adds Cruz, and bites off more vampire mermaids than Captain Jack & Co. may be prepared to chew.
NPR logo

'Tides' Formula: Swash, Buckle, Repeat As Necessary

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/136286541/136506953" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Tides' Formula: Swash, Buckle, Repeat As Necessary

Review

Movies

'Tides' Formula: Swash, Buckle, Repeat As Necessary

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/136286541/136506953" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

And Johnny Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow again. Chapter four in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" saga is out today, called "No Stranger Tides." And it finds the pirate captain searching for the fountain of youth.

Our critic, Bob Mondello, says the series needs it.

BOB MONDELLO: It must be exhausting looking for an escape route every time you enter a room. I'd never caught Captain Jack Sparrow doing that before, but there's a new director at the helm, Rob Marshall, who made the musical "Chicago," and I guess he wants you to be aware of his action choreography.

So before an early palace escape, he draws your attention, and Johnny Depp's, to the respective positions of a window, a chandelier and a gilded chair. And then he brings on a foppishly overdressed Captain Barbossa, now flunky to King George, and lets Depp swish into action.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES")

GEOFFREY RUSH: (As Barbossa) (Unintelligible). Where's the harm in joining the winning side?

JOHNNY DEPP: (As Captain Jack Sparrow) I understand everything except that wig.

MONDELLO: And he's off, kicking food off a long banquet table, swinging from that chandelier and eventually ending up on the street, where he evades British soldiers by plunging into an 18th-century version of rush hour - horse-drawn carriages zooming every which way - as Depp leaps from moving roof to moving roof.

It's the kind of thing you can imagine dancer Gene Kelly turning into a real tour-de-force, except he'd have insisted on doing it in one take, not with stunt doubles and chopped-up editing. Still, it's frenetic, and that's Pirates audiences expect, right?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES")

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEPP: (As Sparrow) Captain, I wish to report a mutiny. I can name fingers and point names.

MONDELLO: Apart from choreographed action, here's what's different this time: Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are gone. Can't say I miss them, but apparently the producers thought audience might, so they've been replaced by an equally bland chaplain and mermaid.

This being the first post-"Twilight" Pirates movies, its mermaids are all vampires. Wouldn't you love to have been present at that story conference?

And then there's Penelope Cruz.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES")

PENELOPE CRUZ: (As Angelica) What were you doing in a Spanish convent, anyway?

DEPP: (As Sparrow) I was looking for a brothel. Honest mistake.

MONDELLO: She shows up playing Jack's former flame and presumably to add depth to her cleavage, the picture has been shot in 3-D. Okay, that's not the reason. More likely someone thought those 3-D glasses would darken the special effects sequences and disguise how labored they are.

Speaking of labored, let's talk plot.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES")

CRUZ: (As Angelica) Have you ever seen the fountain of youth?

DEPP: (As Sparrow) I'm sorry, could you repeat the question, please?

MONDELLO: This youth quest in "On Stranger Tides" is certainly clearer than the last two Pirates plots, but making things clear in a franchise based on a theme-park ride just makes it seem best suited for real youth, of an age likely to freak out over vampire mermaids.

Small kids won't really appreciate Johnny Depp, either, though frankly he's getting to be less fun as the series ages, possibly realizing that what's riskiest in "Pirates 4" isn't walking the plank but jumping the shark.

NORRIS: On Golden Pond"? I'm Bob Mondello.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.