‘Pirates’ review: Johnny Depp keeps the ship afloat — barely

May 22, 2011 | 6:10 a.m.
pirates johnny depp penelope cruz johnny depp ian mcshane Pirates review: Johnny Depp keeps the ship afloat    barely

Penlope Cruz, Johnny Depp and Ian McShane in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Walt Disney)

Is it time for Jack Sparrow to sail off into the sunset?

After seeing the fourth installment in Disney‘s “Pirates of the Caribbean” mega-franchise, Los Angeles Times film critic Betsy Sharkey writes in her review that Johnny Depp‘s kooky pirate charm keeps “On Stranger Tides” afloat, but the film is “not seaworthy, nor Sparrow worthy, for that matter.”

piratespremiere Pirates review: Johnny Depp keeps the ship afloat    barely

Sharkey gives props to a few sparkling moments, including creepy mermaids and a cameo by the Rolling Stone‘s Keith Richards, but said that despite Oscar-nominated director Rob Marshall‘s efforts at the helm, overall, the movie lacks fun. Sharkey blames a bloated, overly complicated plot and bizarre production design. “Now if all that sounds like a promising place to work a lot of 3-D magic, then boy are you in for a major letdown,” Sharkey writes. “The Ds in this instance stand for dark and dismal and disastrously claustrophobic.” Here’s an excerpt of her review:

At least director Gore Verbinski, who launched the enchanting whimsy of the first “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” in 2003 — only to be upended by the rough waters so often churned up by sequels and threequels — had the good sense to make an exit before completely running aground.

There are some amusements in “Tides,” which is ever so slightly better than its predecessor. Particularly grand is a whiz-bang early number that evokes that brief, shining moment when the franchise was first riding high. It involves Capt. Jack, a hanging offense, a double-cross, a pasty monarch with a pastry buffet (both abundant) and a king-sized dining hall filled with chandeliers and staircases just made for swordplay and foul play. It helps get things off to a fast start.

The newest shipmates include Penélope Cruz as Angelica, a former lover of Capt. Jack whose paterfamilias is none other than the villainous Blackbeard, Ian McShane doing his witty wicked thing. She’s a lethal beauty who has a winning way with a rapier but suffers far worse battles with the bad lighting, which can be the only explanation for the fact that Cruz looks more sullen than sultry most of the time.

You can read the rest of the review here. And we’d love to know what you thought of the movie. Let us know in the comments.

–Noelene Clark


pirates of the caribbean stranger tides2 Pirates review: Johnny Depp keeps the ship afloat    barely

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McShane: Depp gets ‘national debt’-size payday

Depp: ‘Pirates’ will sail until ‘the people get tired of it’

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33 Responses to ‘Pirates’ review: Johnny Depp keeps the ship afloat — barely

  1. Dianne says:

    Though I enjoyed the movie, it felt like something was missing – too many loose ends so to speak. In the 3rd movie at the very end, it showed Mrs. Turner with a son – well, what of that? Why show that if they're not to be in #4? I enjoyed the movie, but was somehow disappointed. I don't know what else to say except Mr. Depp is a brilliant actor and can't help but smile at his kooky pirate role.

    • Meg says:

      I have not seen the movie yet but after seeing the previews I was immediatly disappointed that they did not focus on Mrs. Turner and her son as well as Mr. Turner and what was to become of them. I mean it was the closing scene to the 3rd movie and the 4rth does not look like it relates to the others at all other than the cast. I hope that I do enjoy it when I do get a chance to see it.

  2. toronero says:

    i was not impressed. clearly my least favorite of the "pirates"

  3. Peter says:

    I paid $15 for 3D tickets and I thought that it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen and the 3D quality was horrendous. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

    • brittany says:

      I thought the movie was good, not the BEST of the Pirates series, but worth seeing. I also saw the movie in 3D and quite honestly I don’t think it’s worth watching in 3D. Go see the movie, but save a couple dollars & opt out of the 3D version.

  4. Art Kautz says:

    I strongly disagree with the critics panning this film. It was fun and a lot better than Pirates II or III. I don't think the 3D part added much and wasn't worth the extra money for the ticket. If there is a Pirates V, I'm going!

  5. mlm says:

    I thought Blackbeard wasn't as fearsome as he should have been.

  6. Watcher says:

    Did "Sharkey" (her real name?) actually watch the movie? What does she want to see in a show? Maybe she should be a producer, then she'll be able to make it the way she wants instead of complaining about what other people have done.
    Good Grief!

  7. I thought that Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was a fantastic movie. I saw it with my dad and brother and they felt the same way also. The plot, characters, and setting etc. were perfect. Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz did a wonderful job. This is the best Pirates Of The Caribbean movie yet. And for all of you out there that dislike
    this movie maybe you should just keep your mouth shut……or get your ears and eyes checked.

  8. Celena McDermott says:

    I saw the movie 5/21/11 with high expectations. It proved to be a lulluby for my husband due to the consistant dark scenes. Captain Jack became a Super Hero not a haphazard charmer who surprizingly makes it in the end. His cast had potential esp. Black Beard with his strong and defined voice, but unfortunetly too much down time passed b/t character building and Depp almost dominated every scene. There wasn't any other story significant that could hold interest. I enjoed Capt Barbosa he just looked so pasty I thought he could be coming back from the dead again. The mermaid Love interest was not convincing at such a high emotion from the clergy unless he was mesmerised and recogniesd for his obsessed out of control desire, It was just a little odd. Lastly the Spainerds I enjoyed there straight forward position no questions asked( clarity ).Overall I enjoyed the entertainment, Its about once every 2 years we are willing to shell out the dough. My boys birthdays gave reason this time.

  9. Typically I am a johnny depp fan but, I am sooo over the pirates of the carribean movies. I’m sorry to say this but,this is not one of my more favorable series over movies he has made.

  10. nancy says:

    I love Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow and despite this critic's attempts to maligne this latest adventure, I believe the general public are now in wait for the 5th one and beyond.

  11. Donna says:

    Went to see this in 3D on Friday and I must have been watching a different film – brilliant, great plot loved it – what more can I say – cant wait for the next episode of Captian Jack

  12. Claire says:

    I felt like I'd already seen it three times…nothing happened that I didn't see coming miles ahead, and it all just had a very "been here, done this" feel to it. Perhaps if I hadn't seen the first three I would have thought it was a great pirate saga, but there was nothing groundbreaking here. NOTHING.

  13. Bud says:

    Not nearly as good as #1 or #2 but a whole lot better than #3 World's End for sure.

  14. Stella says:

    Love Love Loved OST! People need to remember that you are not going to get that feeling of excitement that you got when you first saw Jack in Curse of the Black Pearl. Cruz was a perfect match for Jack and the chemistry was fantastic. Cracked up when Jack goes after the impersonator and kisses them saying he always wanted to do that…lol as in kiss himself. Classic! Lots of great moments. Brilliant lines – thank you Terry and Ted! Critics – who needs em. Everyone I know that has seen the movie loved it. I'd like another serving of Captain Jack Sparrow! Hope there is a 5th in the years to come.

    • <3 JD says:

      ABSALOUTEY agree… it was fantastic!! black beard was AWESOME! "Hector" did amazing i loved him and jack working together, their relashionship was perfect…. and penelope and johnny …. well i tottally bought that they did or had loved eachother….. he still had his witty lines, and even better so did she they were great match ….cant wait till a 5th!!!!!

  15. Krystal says:

    Don't bother watching in 3D…its really more distracting and found it more enjoyable in 2D

  16. vagabondo says:

    Junk is junk!

  17. chyme says:

    Let me start by saying I am a fan of Pirates,1,2 and three. Fantastic movies, acting, plot, action and dialouge! Not to mention the humor. But 'on strange tides', should never have been floated, and indeed, it got well and truly stuck in the sand! Where were the guys who designed the fabulous sets and characters, the ghostly Barbossa or the tentacled Davey Jones? Black beard in real life, was one of the most prolific and colourful pirates to hoist the jolley Roger. He actually used to go into battle with his hair on fire………lighting two powder fuses and brandishing two cutlasses! This Black beard wouldn't scare my grandma on a dark night down hanging hill lane!
    Disney…………………..YOU GOT IT WRONG!

  18. Bruce Wayne says:

    Whiny people will always whine about movies or food. It was a fun movie to watch.The Turner’s storyline was not shown because Bloom and Knightly declined to return. So Duh,theres not story. If youd keep up with casting of movies you like, then its simple to understand. This was different than the last two because the directors are polar opposites.My kids have a sense of humor so they enjoyed the movie as did I.

  19. Richard says:

    LOVED it! I thought it was the best of the series next to the 1st one.

  20. suzy says:

    They needed the money that is why they keep making these movies. I wasn't impressed, if it wasn't 3d it woul make a lot less. I think people in US are over of the pirate movies.

  21. ede487 says:

    u know guys i went to go see the movie verly and its was awsome people were expecting i dont know what lol everything is very very diffrent from the last three movies but hey new plot needed to take place in this movie captian barbossa was awsome too i sure hope they make pirates 5 and i know everybody has diffrent opinions but i think people r exaggerating too too much about the about how bad it is afterall people will never be satisfied but its worthy to go and see people it is diffrent but thats the intresting part of this whole movie really.

  22. Scott says:

    Definitely better than II and III. But not even in the same ballpark as the first. Enjoyed the characters, but the plotting was forced and/or non-existent. Let the characters shape the story and quit trying to force squares into round holes.

  23. Debbie g says:

    Saw the movie today Sunday in 3D. Enjoyed the movie, Captain Jack Sparrow is still the best!!!
    3D didn't rate high could have saved the extra money. Will be waiting for the next Pirate of the Caribbean movie. Still watch 1,2 and 3 pirates DVD's. Johnny Depp is GREAT.

  24. fayeandrews says:

    The action scenes were enjoyable, special effects were decent, with the mermaid scene being very enjoyable. The 3-D was sketchy and may of been unneccessa­ry, but the truth is I felt like I was entertaine­d, the kids loved it, and I left the theater feeling like I had a good time. http://bit.ly/jSoBhW

  25. Marie says:

    Johnny Depp was funny & charming, as expected. Penelope Cruz was great in the role. The mermaids were a good addition. It was entertaining, but definitely not as dark as World's End. Not as good as the first two movies, but better than World's End. Not worth the extra money for 3D, though.

  26. jesse says:

    Wow, people suck! Everyone complained after the 3rd POTC that it was too confusing, to hard to understand, too complicated, waaaa! every one cried. Now its TOO SIMPLE and blah for you? Oh go bugger off the lot of you. Especially the movie critics.I saw it and loved it. The 3D I could care less about, but it was funny, had lots of action and humour.

  27. Tugboat Annie says:

    I'm a Depp fan, and he did the best he could with a terrible script, the least frightening Blackbeard on record, a no talent Cruz and 3D whose only apparent purpose was to have the occasional sword thrust into the faces of an audience struggling to actually see the film through the darkened haze. I actually walked out, but gave it a second chance. By ditching the 3D glasses and just enjoying Depp, I was able to stay in my seat until the credits rolled on my second viewing. It is incomprehensible that with as great an actor as Depp and as terrific a character as Jack Sparrow, no one has the talent to make a great, terrific film. New writers next time? And, please, no 3D.

  28. Jini says:

    Plot was flat; Johnny Depp although enjoyable was not as engaged in this film; always great to see Penelope Cruz in anything; maybe Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz should do another movie outside this franchise (they were pretty good in Blow); Not sure why they needed 3D or IMAX for this movie. I liked the first three movies, but was glad to see a new female lead in this one. Too many action scenes, just for the sake of action and booming score. Not enough character development. When they come upon the environment surrounding the fountain of youth, Cruz says "beautiful"; there was nothing very beautiful in the scene. As another reader said, the set looked cheap. C'mon Disney, you can do better or maybe you should stop this series now.

  29. Gloria says:

    Saw the movie for the 2nd time today. i agree with all the positive people. Loved the movie. Love Jack. Thought Johnny was great! Per usual. Just enjoy the charater sooo much. I liked the 3rd movie because it pulled all the story lines together. Saw it 5 times in theater and have the DVD's. In fact have all the DVD's and the CD's. Love the music too. Still enjoy watching them all. Hope there will be a 5th. Will go to see them as long as they make them.

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