Willie Waffle is the movie critic for people who hate movie critics.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Review - How Do You Make Mermaids Boring?

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piratesofthecaribbean4poster.jpgThey say the third time is a charm, and that's where they should have stopped with Pirates of the Caribbean.

Johnny Depp is back for a fourth time as Captain Jack Sparrow, and he has found himself in the middle of a crazy situation (of course).  After making off with a map to the Fountain of Youth during Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Sparrow is in demand. 

Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) has left the pirate life to join the British Navy and lead an expedition to find the Fountain for King George, but Sparrow escapes his clutches only to find himself on the Queen Anne's Revenge.  It's bad enough the ship belongs to Blackbeard (Ian McShane), but the evil pirate's first mate is Angelica (Penelope Cruz) - Sparrow's former flame, who might be in love with him, looking for revenge, or just happy to use the drunken pirate to find the Fountain.

Who will find the Fountain first?  

Barbossa?

Blackbeard?

The Spanish Armada?

Those walking out of the theater in disgust and disappointment?

On Stranger Tides is the one that shouldn't have been made.  For all of the talk about how this movie would be better and easier to understand than the less well received sequels that preceded it, I would rather see those again.  In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the story just doesn't matter.  Writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio might have something in the script for us to enjoy, but the story only is there to kill time until the next swordfight or the next chase scene or the next crazy escape by Jack Sparrow, and that's why the movie is such a disappointment.  

The thrill and the joy are gone.  Much of the comedy falls flat, and the action often feels repetitive.  It feels like director Rob Marshall is churning out a product instead of introducing new characters and telling a story.    

Our new characters and their sub-plots are inconsequential and utterly forgettable.  We have some replacements for Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley (some sort of bland missionary played by Sam Claflin and an uninteresting mermaid played by Astrid Berges-Frisbey) who have a storyline that doesn't make us understand or care for either character. Essentially, their entire existence in the movie is for one crucial scene that didn't need all of this wasted screen time.  

Plus, I can't believe how little we truly learn about Cruz's Angelica.  I felt like Marshall, Elliott and Rossio kept dancing around her past and the relationship she had with Sparrow, instead of creating something we could remember and compel us to care about her or have some impact on this movie.   How do you make Penelope Cruz and mermaids boring?!?!?!      
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Worst of all, Depp seems to be on autopilot.  Sparrow is the shell of the character we found so fascinating and entertaining in the first three movies.  Whereas, in the previous movies, Depp found special moments to make Sparrow more than a silly drunken cartoon character, in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, he's one dimensional.

Sorry, folks.  This one is a stinker.  You don't need to see it in 3D, which looks dark, murky and doesn't deliver anything exciting for your eyes.  Heck, you don't need to see it at all.

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1 Waffle (Out of 4)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images, sensuality, and innuendo.