After sinking into self-important tedium with its prior two overstuffed installments, Pirates of the Caribbean seemed destined for permanent burial at sea. And yet the soggy franchise and Johnny Depp's foppish rapscallion return again for On Stranger Tides—to search for the fountain of youth, no less, a quest that Chicago director Rob Marshall (taking the helm from Gore Verbinski) embellishes with the usual gaggle of musty ships-and-sabers tropes and cacophonous CGI.
Captain Jack Sparrow’s limb-flailing shenanigans had already become old-hat during his past outings, so Depp's routine—the look-at-me flamboyance of his trinket-decorated braided hair, flowing scarves, and giant rings, as well as his half-drunken flouncing, lisping, and pratfalling—is no longer a surprise but rather a dreary expectation fulfilled. More astonishing, however, is that even though it does away with its preceding trilogy’s plot-heavy mythology for a supposedly more streamlined stand-alone story, the ensuing tale—in which Jack reluctantly teams with his former flame, Angelica (Penélope Cruz), and her iconic baddie daddy, Blackbeard (Ian McShane), to reach the legendary fountain before English king–employed Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush)—is a familiar mess of rules, rituals, creatures, and chandelier-swinging, sword-clashing pandemonium.
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